Marvel Legacy #1 is here! And while that’s all very exciting, there’s also a new X-Men adventure on stands this week. That’s right, the X-Men: Blue squad is back with the final chapter of the three-part “Toil and Trouble” arc. No, it doesn’t feature prehistoric versions of Marvel’s mutants, but it’s still a pretty satisfying end to this ghoulish Beast story.
First, I just need to say the cover to X-Men: Blue #12 really doesn’t have much to do with the story inside its pages. Miss Sinister is mentioned, but never appears. She looks lovely, but it really should have been an oversized Goblin Queen toying with the X-Men.
But, never judge a twice-monthly comic by its cover, right? If you’ve seen Marvel’s December solicitations, you know that Bloodstorm (aka Vampire Storm) will be sticking around beyond this arc. So it’s a good thing writer Cullen Bunn kicks off the issue with a look at her past and how she joined the Goblin Queen’s squad. It’s been a long time since I read the Mutant X series from the end of the ’90s, but this doesn’t seem to be the same Bloodstorm that was a member of The Six.
(Funny enough, the Goblin Queen was also a member of that team.)
Either way, this alternate Ororo feels guilty for what she did to her own Beast, so she’s determined to help young Hank break away from the Goblin Queen’s control. I’m interested to see how the relationship between these two damaged characters will evolve in the issues to come. Also, the Ultimate versions of the two were romantically involved for some time, and Bunn has proven he knows his Ultimate history. Could there be another couple forming within the Blue team?
On the note of possible couples, Scott and Jean have a great moment in this issue after the Goblin Queen (an alternate version of a clone of Jean that married the original Scott (#X-MenAreComplicated) makes a comment about how “young and virile” Scott looks. In my review of X-Men: Blue #10, I said I wanted Bunn to touch on the Goblin Queen’s history with Scott and Jean and he didn’t disappoint!
Overall, this is a pretty straightforward action issue, but it manages to progress ongoing plot threads, and it leaves Beast in an interesting place. The issue’s subplot, featuring Angel and Jimmy Hudson facing off against the Blob, is the part that will leave readers wondering what’s next. We’re learning more about those secondary mutations we saw during the Secret Empire arc, along with the series’ villains’ “Mothervine” plan.
Plus, you’ve never seen the Blob this… well, Blobby.While Bunn raises some interesting questions, we may not get the answers right away, as the next few issues will crossover with X-Men Gold for the “Mojo Worldwide” arc.
But am I under the Goblin Queen’s spell? What am I talking about? Bunn has proven he can participate in a larger event and still keep his plots in forward motion.
In the art department, this issue has Douglas Franchin chronicling this entry. Franchin’s pencils continue to remind me of Tom Raney at times (kind of a cool coincidence, considering Raney was the artist on Mutant X), but he’s very much his own man. It’s a shame this issue didn’t come out later in October, as it’s perfect for Halloween. Franchin’s great at illustrating sinister spirits rising from flames, grotesque goblins, the demonic Beast casting spells and that Blob… that straight-out-of-a-horror-flick Blob (wink wink).
Looking back on the last three issues, “Toil and Trouble” hasn’t been my favorite X-Men Blue arc, but it’s definitely featured some of the series’ most interesting moments to date. When (and if) this series ever ends, Marvel would be wise to collect it all in an oversized omnibus. I stand by my belief that Bunn and his artistic collaborators are creating what many will one day remember being one of the strongest X-Men runs in decades. Having all of the issues in a single hardcover to read uninterrupted would do a series so masterfully plotted a great service.