Every now and then, an X-Men comic comes along that reminds readers of the downside of being a mutant. X-Men Blue #26, the fourth part of “Cry Havok,” is one of those comics. And it’s all thanks to Mothervine–Miss Sinister, Bastion, Havok and Emma Frost’s wicked scheme to make mutants the dominant species on the planet.
Once exposed to Mothervine, mutants stand to gain secondary mutations, while former mutants and everyday humans develop an x-gene. People undergoing genetic mutations against their will–what could go wrong?
Lots of terrible things, it turns out!
Terror and chaos reign supreme in this issue, brought to you by writer Cullen Bunn and artist R.B. Silva. It’s that terror that helps this comic shine. Through Sebastian Shaw, who underwent genetic modification via Mothervine, it was revealed that the process doesn’t always yield desired results. Those negative side effects are all we see this issue as a woman sprouts stubby tentacles from her stomach while a man’s face is overtaken by mouths. These are not mutant powers anybody needs.
Polaris’ replacement X-Men, consisting of Jimmy Hudson, Bloodstorm, Shen Xorn, Gazing Nightshade and Daken, finally jump into action (after last issue’s frustrating tease), trying to make sense of the chaos unfolding around them. Among that chaos are Sentinels designed to help mutants–a plot point that dates back to Blue’s first arc.
Now, these fill-in X-Men probably wouldn’t hold my attention on a monthly basis, but they’re fine for now. While this is mostly an action issue, Bunn manages to insert some nice character moments, including interactions between brothers literally from other mothers, Jimmy and Daken.Would I prefer to follow these backup X-Men fighting evil alongside the original five? Of course, and you know what? They make a cameo at the beginning of this issue! Yes, they’re still in space (in this particular scene). And yes, three issues into Venomized, it’s been established they’re back on Earth. So yeah, if you’re already frustrated by the albatross around their neck that is Venomized (like your humble reviewer), then you’ll likely be frustrated by their brief appearance with, you guessed it, their new buddy Venom!
Also frustrating–when you think you’re pretty knowledgeable of X-Men continuity and Bunn proves you’re not through this course of a single comic. There’s an appearance by Grant Morrison’s Beak, and he mentions he was getting used to being human as he regains avian features. Not only did I forget this character existed but I also forgot he lost his mutant powers (if I even knew that happened in the first place). X-Men continuity buffs should get a kick out of this issue, though, as many familiar faces from the glorious ’90s make brief appearances. I remember all of them… I just can’t remember all of their names.
My final frustration this week: Evil Havok. Or would it be Dark Havok? When good X-Men go bad, they always go “Dark,” right? Anyway, Havok has become such a bastard I really have no clue how Marvel (and I assume Matthew Rosenberg) will dig him out of the hole he’s putting himself in. Everyone hated Cyclops at the end of his life and all he was doing was going after some toxic clouds. Slim’s little brother is turning people into monsters against their will!
This issue’s events may sound terrifying, but they look great thanks to Silva’s pencils. Jorge Molina kicked off this arc, but it looks like Silva is pitching in, and that’s fine by me. The artist always delivers consistent visuals that never seem rushed and never cease to satisfy. Silva may not be drawing A-list X-Men, but you wouldn’t know it as Jimmy and the gang cut loose on a bunch of Sentinels.
Ah, X-Men vs. Sentinels… an X-trope that never gets old.
Overall, this is another solid installment in the “Cry Havok” arc, and it definitely seems like everything is coming to a head, which keeps me invested. Hopefully the villains will get away from their holographic screens and the original five will save themselves from all that Venomized nonsense and rejoin the fun soon. Then, maybe X-Men Blue can undergo a secondary mutation of its own and go from being a good comic to a great one!