The first two issues of X-Men Black have been surprising. Magneto was a good enough book that was disappointing overall, while Mojo was a surprisingly fun book that should be on every X-Fan’s must-read list. Much like the first part of X-Men Black, Mystique stars one of the more interesting X-Villains. Will Mystique be another must-read entry in the series or will it fail to impress like Magneto?
In Magneto, long time X-Men scribe Chris Claremont decided to focus on the Master of Magnetism’s more noble side. The story featured Magneto having to face different types of mutant discrimination. This falls in line with the character, but it also led to a story that was overly familiar and did not seem to go anywhere.
On the contrary, Scott Aukerman’s Mojo was a well written romantic comedy that was more about telling a fun story than delivering a serious message. The story was not particularly original, but it didn’t have to be. This was a story about a maniacal slaver trying to find love in New York City.
Mystique almost straddles the middle ground between the previous two issues, but it definitely leans towards the more serious side. Writer Seanan McGuire puts together a fun little heist story starring the shape shifting mutant. McGuire has the great idea of letting the reader into Mystique’s head, proving a running commentary of what is happening.
What makes the technique work so well is that Mystique is not a story with Raven Darkholme providing narration to her actions, nor does she spend the issue justifying her actions. Instead, the readers is given a deeper insight into how the mysterious mutant actually thinks. McGuire does a great job of getting so in depth with in such a relatively short period of time.
Just as impressive is that the story is essentially a one person show. Yes, there are plenty of other characters (not counting the numerous instances of Mystique’s trademark shapeshifting, of course), but the only one fleshed out is the blue-skinned mutant. The issue can be deadly serious at times, but it also showcases Mystique’s wry sense of humor, her views on her mutant ability, and also makes the reader marvel at her preparation skills while questioning her sanity.
Artist Marco Failla is tasked to do a lot in the issue and does a great job. The beginning of the story has Mystique discussing why her mutant ability is much more complicated than people give it credit for. This involves her changing her appearance multiple times. Failla is able to keep up with the narrative perfectly, giving each persona a personality of their own. The smallest details are included, even though some characters may only be in one panel.
Failla’s art also looks good in the action scenes in Mystique. His art truly stands out in the book’s climax. Mystique calmly explains that the numerous people on the floor in an office building is due to the knockout gas she placed in the air ducts. Some striking panels show that this is far from the truth.
Mystique also continues the ‘Degeneration’ back story starring X-Villain Apocalypse. For the first time, the story seems to falter. The first part engages readers due to circumstances and the second part is told in an interesting way. This part does succeed in making readers almost worry for Apocalypse, but it’s also so short that is seems unnecessary.
X-Men Black: Mystique is another great issue in the series of one shots. The issue is little more than the evil mutant explaining her views of the world in a stream of consciousness narrative, but it perfectly frames the standard heist story.