One of the ways X-Men comics have been able to stay so fresh over the years is its changing cast. That’s not to say the team has had a revolving door — it’s more a matter of the creative teams knowing when things have gotten a little stale and the team needs a shakeup. One of the most surprising changes is when longtime X-Men foe, Juggernaut. X-Men: Unstoppable collects Cain Marko’s time with the team.
It’s cool to see Juggernaut as a hero
Switching allegiances in comics is not a novel idea; it’s hard to think of one major hero or villain who has not fought for the opposite side due to being brainwashed, or lied to, or cloned. Juggernaut’s face turn also was not particularly original. Fellow villain Black Tom Cassidy betrayed him. No biggie. Villains are doing this kind of thing to each other all the time.
It is interesting to see Juggernaut fight alongside the X-Men for a number of reasons. He is one of their earliest enemies and has battled against them for literally decades. Sure, all villains eventually end up teaming with the heroes they hate, but there was never a reason to believe Juggernaut would. His relationship with Professor Xavier seemed to make it even less likely.
Juggernaut does end up accepting his stepbrother’s offer to join the X-Men, and it works better than most times that bad guys team up with the heroes. Cain looked like he should have been a part of the team from the beginning. It is usually neat to see how a villain fares on the other side, but rarely does it look so natural.
Melodramatic and superheoric (sometimes)
It’s not a good X-Men title if it does not have the right mix of melodramatics and action. Writer Chuck Austen does a a great job of hitting the books emotional beats. There is the betrayal suffered by Juggernaut and his friendship with the ten year mutant Sammy Pare. Their relationship is well explored and leads to an incredibly touching moment. Northstar also gets time in the spotlight, even if the moments are a little cliche.
Austen does slow down the pace a little too much, but Unstoppable does have some great battles. The team battles the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and have a run-in with Alpha Flight in two spectacular clashes. But there are also times that Austen has the characters’ dramas take center stage. There is a nice moment that mixes both when Cain has an encounter with Sammy’s father, but there are just too many slow spots. Sometimes X-books tend to lean too much in one direction or another, and at times Unstoppable is no different.
What’s happening to me?
Villains sometimes will change their philosophy on life. Mutants tend to get a little emotional in between all the world saving they need to do. And sometimes our favorite heroes have to deal with changes to their body they have no control over or understanding of. This happens to not one, but two heroes in Unstoppable. It’s fun to read about beings who have powers that we can only dream about. Watching as they effortlessly fly through the air or shoot ice from their fingertips is part of the fun of comics. But watching them wonder what changes their bodies are going through can be just as fun. Seeing heroes learn about themselves make them that much more relatable.