Last month’s stellar issue of Brian Wood’s “X-Men” introduces the comic’s debut villain, Arkea, twin sister of Sublime, and she immediately poses a threat to the heroes, and to the X-academy at large, which is put under lock-down mode upon her discovery. The issue explodes into a fury of action which spills out over several of the comic’s pages, jumping out of the panels onto a fantastically drawn two-page spread. Coipel’s drawings received much deserved praise in #1, and in this book they are even better; faces are depicted with a great range of emotions; sense of spatial relations is effectively communicated, with the lock-down pages feeling every bit as claustrophobic as they should. And for a comic that now features seven female characters (six heroes and one villain), it is impressive how realistically and tastefully the body shapes and poses are depicted. Absent in this comic are the spine-shattering poses that magically show off a woman’s breasts and butt in one pose, as well as the ridiculously extreme hourglass figures that pollute far too many mainstream comics even today. Not only are drawings of the sort tacky, objectifying and harmful in their social reinforcement of raising impossible body standards for female readers, but they also add zero substance to the comic itself. The women in “X-Men” are drawn like women (albeit, moderately thin, athletic women), in a comic that is visually gorgeous from front to back cover.
“X-Men” is starting off its (hopefully very long) run with a brief three-issue arc, and now having passed the halfway point this issue, it feels like the story is coming to an end all too soon. These 40-odd pages have flown by and it a testament to the writer and artists involved that the story has been so enormously entertaining that readers would love to see it go on for a lot longer. The arc told thus far is a fun one, and feels like a traditional X-Men story (in the best way), and is so fast paced it leaves us thirsty for more. Arkea has already shown a lot of potential in this one issue that it would be a shame if next month’s arc conclusion were to see her defeat. It would also arguably cheapen the character and conflict with how intimidating she has been depicted. Hopefully she will have a large part to play in the comic in its later progressions.