Reviewer:Al Harahap Quick Rating: Good Story Title: Dead Drop Gorgeous (Chapter 1 of 6)
Professor X expands his collective of covert agents to include mutant terrorist on the lam, Mystique.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Artist: Jorge Lucas Colourist: Studio F Letterer: Paul Tutrone Cover Artist: Joseph Michael Linsner Editor: Nova Ren Suma Supervising Editor: Mike Marts Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
Scribe Brian K. Vaughan brings his unique brand of apocalyptic mystery and intrigue right out of his critically acclaimed Y: The Last Man and spins it into an espionage thriller for everyone’s favourite mutant shapeshifting spy/terrorist, Mystique. A similar sense of apocalypse is very much present as the whole premise of Mystique’s series comes out of the Xavier Institute’s outing as a mutant haven (as seen in recent issues of New X-Men). And I really wished this new series didn’t have to rely on such a strong connection to the mainstream X canon, and could just stand on its own. However, this premise does provide a good, solid foundation for the series.
I certainly was not expecting to see as many as three familiar faces besides Mystique’s. Professor X and Jean Grey provide some flawless continuity into this series, while Forge represents a sense of Mystique’s past. I do hope he pops back in now and then because he does bring about an emotional side to Mystique that isn’t so readily “portrayable” without the right supporting characters (Destiny, Sabertooth, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Forge himself, just to name a few). In any case, Vaughan uses the guest-stars aptly to kick off the basis of the series. And he does so without them so much imposing themselves into it, and more importantly, without the story imposing itself onto the consistency of these well-known characters, considering that the amount of recent inter-usage of X-characters between the core X-titles (New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Treme X-Men) and X-Men Unlimited has brought about inconsistencies galore in character.
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The lack of Mystique’s own presence in this debut issue makes perfect sense as Vaughan purposely chooses to first show us what sets the wheels in motion for the series, and giving it a crystal clear direction. On the other hand, I feel a great yearning for some characterisation for our main character. She’s a bit player in this first issue, and that’s fine, but I do hope Vaughan can deliver on some deep character in the future. Perhaps it would’ve been better to exclude Mystique altogether much like Darko Macan did in Soldier X #1’s main story, which hadn’t Cable/Nathan Summers in it. That way, this issue would’ve maintained setting a strong premise without any feelings of being cheated out of minimal Mystique.
Joining Vaughan is Wolverine: X-Isle and former X-Force artist, Jorge Lucas. I’m rather mixed about Lucas’ art. On the one hand, I’m in awe of Lucas’ grasp of detail. Just look at the opening panorama or Forge’s contraptions. Lucas’ hair-thin lines allow for very vivid images. And such attention to visual detail is definitely a plus in an espionage series where obscure clues might be dropped here and there. On the other hand, I’m just not feeling the characters’ faces and facial expressions, which are pretty significant for a book where faces is central to the main character. In some panels, they even look somewhat distorted.
While we’re on the subject of faces, Vaughan masterfully misleads readers at various points in the issue as to any guise Mystique adopts. There were a total of four characters whom I guessed wrong to be Mystique before I actually got it right – and even then, only because she revealed herself. Vaughan uses this quality of Mystique’s character to keep the suspense throughout the issue going on all cylinders. And I can see that this aspect of the series will keep it exciting anytime we don’t see Mystique’s “neutral” blue appearance.
Something that some readers may not accept though is Professor X’s readiness to employ and rely on Mystique – someone who has been a thorn in the X-Men’s side for years, and hurt them many times, even killing the Professor’s one-time love, Moira MacTaggert. Vaughan does tackle the subject with Forge’s query into the matter, but the Professor has made up his mind about using her for the good of his dream. In this regard, some readers may find it inconsistent and unbelievable. Personally, I have no qualms about it at all, considering the Professor’s willingness to resort to immoral decisions whenever he's been cornered in the past.
One final thing I’d like to add is the amazing colouring of Studio F. The sharp and high-contrast colours complement Lucas’ details. And the same goes for their use of gradient in the colouring, such as the moonlit sky and water reflections in the opening panorama, and especially in the visuals of Mystique’s morphing.
Mystique has gotten off to a great start. A six-part opener may seem somewhat unrelenting, but I can’t wait to see what Vaughan, Lucas, and company have in store for this character X-fans love to hate and hate to love. Go get yours now! :mystique: