Comics : Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #23
This review was first published on: Aug 2011.
The half-time break also sees a change of scenery as we leap from Stark Industries to the X-Mansion for part two.
Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) #23 (Story 2)
Review (No SM)
In the second half of the tale, we cut to Cyclops, Wolverine and Emma Frost as they fly their Blackbird jump jet back to the X-mansion. The rest of the mutants have been mentally overtaken as Bishop was, and the three senior X-Men and launching a counter-attack made possible by the mental shielding that powerful mind-mutant Emma Frost is capable of granting to her two companions.
The three mutants drop into the X-Mansion, fight their way past their out-of-control former allies and make it to the Cerebro room where they see... Exodus! Who? No, don't email me and tell me. I really don't care. All we get told for the purposes of the story is that he is the son of Professor X, and that he is pursuing an insanity-inspired agenda to have mutants take over the world courtesy of his mental control.
Emma Frost overpowers Exodus and Wolverine trashes Cerebro. Shortly afterwards Tony Stark arrives to say "no hard feelings" about being beaten up, and promising to work to aid the X-Men in overcoming the bad publicity that the entire "psycho-mutants on the rampage" episode has caused.
Despite the apparent surface complexity of this story, it is (like so many other stories in these UK magazines) very simple indeed at heart. A villain launches an attack on a hero, but the hero is more powerful (or better armed) and hence is victorious.
Now, you might say "but that's what a super-hero story is all about". But I must disagree.
As we all learned in "Writing 101", conflict (physical, mental, emotional) is the driving force behind most stories. But conflict is just the start. If all you have is an unbalanced fight, then you have nothing. "The Germans attacked the American Soldiers, but the Americans were braver and better at shooting so they killed the Germans." You ain't got a story there, bud. All you have is a propaganda headline.
To make an interesting tale, the conflict needs to drive the secondary elements which actually provide the interest - things like some of the elements from this very incomplete list.
- Character development, or
- A mystery and its explanation, or
- A surprise or unexpected develoment, or
- A moral or emotional dilmemma, or
- Desire to achieve a difficult goal, working to overcome challenges
Now, at first glance this story appears to have some of these elements. Challenges overcome? A surprise? You might think they both qualified. But not really. All of the challenges are overcome as soon as they are encountered, there is no sustained tension. And as for the "Surprise" identity of the villain. Well, let's have a look at what makes a surprise.
Let's imagine I'm sitting at a fire station. The bell rings and engine number 34 drives out with lights blazing. Is that a surprise? Well, at the absolute minimum level - I didn't know exactly when the bell was going to ring, and I didn't know what number engine would drive out. But frankly, life constantly produces events to which I am not privy in advance to the timing or the details.
Now, if I was waiting by the fire station and a brass band emerged playing a cleverly orchestrated version of Madonna's "Like a Virgin", followed by fire engine number 34 painted pink and pulled by a pack of Alaskan huskies, then THAT would be a surprise worthy of the wait.
Maybe I'm just jaded. A Zen Master might tell us to seek the "new" in all of life's events. That's good advice on a non-literary level. Live each day as it were your last! But there is a limit here. When Exodus is revealed as the villain behind the mind-controls, sure I didn't guess his name in advance. Why should I have? There were no clues - no associated mystery. It was that guy instead of some other guy. And?
I'm tempted to give this story a bonus web just for being so "busy". There's a lot of characters involved, and lots of running around. But honestly, it's much ado about nothing. Peel away the yelling and the pretty artwork... underneath it all, there's no story at all. This is a perfect example of what is wrong with the comics industry in general. One web.