Amazing X-Men 2 – Wow, nice Quicksilver is boring

Credits: Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Any Kubert, inked by Matt Ryan and edited by Bob Harras.

Cast: Earth 295 versions of Pietro ‘Quicksilver’ Maximoff, Ororo ‘Storm’ Monroe, Alison ‘Dazzler’ Blaire, Paris ‘Exodus’ Bennet, Sean ‘Banshee’ Cassidy, Robert ‘Iceman’ Drake, Sebastian Shaw, Copycat, Maddison Jeffries, Abyss and Apocalypse.

Plot: Booth Bay Harbor – Maine. Along the coast of Apocalypse’s America and Abyss (one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse) has kidnapped young Jeremy Graves, a human child who was trying to escape with his family to Europe.

Nearby, the X-Men team led by Quicksilver are facing Apocalypse’s forces, including Maddison Jeffries, Copycat and one of the Madri, all the while avoiding death at the hands of  Sentinels. Apocalypse’s forces disperse and escape, Copycat shifts into the form of Quicksilver’s dead sister Wanda to aid her escape. The X-Men search for this threat, including Banshee who searches for the Madri in the air. He finds the airship that brought their opponents there and inside he finds Jeremy and Abyss.

Abyss tells Banshee that he wants Quicksilver, the son of Magneto and he wants him alone. Quicksilver is up for that and when told about it by Banshee prepares to leave. His girlfriend (or is it wife?) Storm convinces him to let her shadow him. He leaves Exodus in charge of evacuating the humans (after Storm uses her powers and temporarily disables the Sentinels) and off he runs.

At the airship, Abyss banters with and taunts Quicksilver, going full on moustache twirling villain and this causes Quicksilver to lose his temper. After pulling Jeremy out of harms way, Quicksilver just pummels Abyss and shoves his head into the large void in Abyss’ torso.

Inexplicably, this works and the evacuation continues. Storm and Quicksilver share a tender moment and scores of humans make their voyage to freedom.

At Apocalypse’s stronghold, Rex and Sebastian Shaw are torturing Karma, an employee of Angel, to learn what she knows of the X-Men’s home at Xavier’s Mansion. She doesn’t really know anything, but Apocalypse doesn’t care he is ready to take this fight to Magneto now.

Notes: One of my favouring single comic issues of all time is X-Factor 87. The reasons are many and varied, but one of the best things about the issue is it’s handling of Pietro Maximoff. His sneering tone, his lack of patience and feeling of isolation completely fleshes out and improves that character, he went from being an also ran character to being one of that title’s stand out cast. 

Another thing to consider is that alternate world stories allow us to see characters who are changed by different circumstances, Cyclops willing to look the other way on crimes against humanity, Sabretooth who is a caring team player willing to die to save others and Juggernaut, a pacifist monk. These can be refreshing and exciting tales that examine characters in new ways.

The problem here is that the second thing completely erases the first thing here. If you take Pietro and remove the daddy issues, the obsessive protecting of his sister, his isolation and the regular world he feels to fast for, what do have left? Diet 616 Cyclops is what. The main difference between the two AoA X-Men titles is personality. Astonishing has the manic Morph, tortured Sunfire, haunted Sabretooth and mother Rogue. We get none of those interesting characters here. Everyone is just a bit more of a all-business version of themselves, not too different from a lot of edgy 90’s reboots. But Quicksilver is devoid of all the things that make Quicksilver and interesting character. 

I mean this wouldn’t be a problem is there was more going on here, but the Brotherhood is a damp squib and whilst Abyss is an entertaining villain, this is really a non-story. Bad guy kidnaps child and offers to swap him for the hero. It’s a bit boring. Well, more than a little bit.

We get some minor attempts at character work, but we really don’t know many of this team and we’re not really given much reason to care. So is the team, so is the comic.

Verdict: Writing 2 out of 5 – This is low because of the plot, it gets more than 1 because it is well scripted. Abyss is a scenery chewing villain and he is a lot of fun here and the moments between the action do try to add some characterisation to some characters, but the bland cardboard cutout version of the hero of the story, does bleed a lot away from any good stuff that might be in here.

Art 3 out of 5 – Once more we have the exaggerated poses and facial features common to Andy Kubert, but once you get past that, there is a lot of good. The character designs are solid and are well rendered here, especially in the gnarled form of Iceman and the sleek design of Banshee. This would have been hire, but the colouring does bleed a lot of that away. It’s a shame, but I can see what they were going for here with all the bleak lighting that seems to be devoid of hope, but it does kind of rob some of your enthusiasm for this comic.

Overall 5 out of 5. This is the other flagship comic of the Age of Apocalypse. It shouldn’t be so, well skippable. Maybe this is just a dud issue of a pretty good series and it will get better, but honestly if I were re-reading this event for any reason other than this blog, I might have skipped Amazing.

Next Time: Back to the Saga and the twists and turns keep coming.

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