Wednesday, October 22, 2008

X-Men: Worlds Apart #1

"Worlds Apart"
Writer: Christopher Yost
Penciller: Diogenes Neves
Inker: Ed Tadeo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Colourist: Raul Trevino
Editor: Daniel Ketchum

I'd normally include a graphic of the cover, but, hey, I'm running late.

As usual, despite the big "X-Men" logo on the cover, this isn't an X-Men story. It's a Storm miniseries, in which writer Christopher Yost wrestles with the problem of how to reconcile Storm's co-starring role in Black Panther with her position in the X-Men. And naturally, this involves one of her worlds falling apart through the intervention of a villain.

The main difficulty here, I think, is that Yost is engineering a solution to a problem that didn't exist in the first place. When Storm joined the cast of Black Panther, the X-books found a simple solution: they wrote her out. That may not have been the smartest move for Marvel in the long term, since it took one of their few high-profile female characters and banished her to the low-selling backwaters. But hey, part of the point was to lend her star power to a lesser series. And at least it meant she wasn't appearing on two books in two continents.

Now, Storm has been used in Astonishing X-Men lately, but that was presented on a "just visiting" basis. So it's somewhat out of the blue that this series kicks off with Cyclops lecturing Storm about her responsibilities to the X-Men. What responsibilities? She left the team. They're not exactly short-staffed. Hell, they've got about 10% of the world's known mutants on the roster. Who needs Storm?

So we've got a story with a false premise, and that's not a good start. If you can get over that initial hurdle, though, Yost does a decent enough job with it. There's a passable murder-mystery angle in Wakanda, and the story does a reasonable job of arguing that Storm has ended up as an outsider, rather than a family member, in both settings. On the other hand, all this is spelt out rather too directly for its own good, and key passages are too rushed to be convincing.

Mind you, perhaps Yost is right not to tease the break-up of Storm's marriage too convincingly. A lot of readers would probably take it as a welcome and overdue retraction of a terribly silly idea. No point getting their hopes up too much, unless it's actually going to happen. (Which it should. In fact, it'll inevitably happen at some point, because whatever you think of the merits of the original story, it hasn't done much to help the Black Panther, and it's only served to drag Storm's profile down. That's a lose-lose situation.)

The art's quite decent - it's late-nineties house style, but it's crisp and clear and knows how to convey emotion. Diogenes Neves is apparently one of those Brazilian studio artists, and this is more than acceptable work. There are a couple of rough patches, but the fundamentals are sound.

It's always possible that this series actually is intended to extricate Storm from the Black Panther supporting cast in anticipation of that book's upcoming relaunch. If so, Yost can be forgiven a bit of contrivance to manufacture an ejector-seat story for her. On the other hand, if it's just a filler mini - well, Storm's fans should be more than happy with this, but on the strength of the first issue, it's unlikely to capture much wider attention.