Reviewer:Bad Al Harahap, [email] Quick Rating: Great! Story Title:The Moons of Venus part 2 of 3: "It's Official!"
All signs point out Guy Smith under the mask of "Bad Guy." But is it really him, or someone/something entirely different? In true Milliganesque media savvy X-Statix fashion, vote!
Written by:Bad Peter Milligan Art by:Bad Mike Allred Coloured by:Bad Laura Allred Lettered by:Bad Blambot's Nate Piekos Assistant Editors:Bad John Miesegaes & Bad Warren Simons Editor:Bad Axel Alonso Editor-in-Chief:Bad Joe Quesada President:Bad Bill Jemas
Scribe Peter Milligan follows up The Moons of Venus storyarc by maintaining last issue's quick pace, one that was severely lacking in X-Statix's previous storyarc, but whose ramifications are felt throughout this one. Milligan has brought forth two main plots here. That of Guy Smith's (a.k.a. The Orphan) self-destruction, and that of the mystery of Bad Guy's true identity (unfortunately, the title character, Venus Dee Milo, remains secondary -- though I have a feeling that she'll become very important in the next issue).
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Lacuna's media stunt of the "Good Guy, Bad Guy" poll has led the public to believe that the masked Bad Guy is indeed Guy Smith himself. Last issue, Milligan pointed readers towards Guy, but here, we are given clues that it's not. So just who exactly is "Bad Guy"? In classic Wizard fashion, let's look at the suspect list:
* Venus Dee Milo's relative / alien slug creature. A backburner plot presented last issue is Venus' search for her interdimensionally-lost family. After an attempt at finding them, a strange green slug returns with her into Professor X's lab, wherein the Professor has hypothesised a relation between the slug and Venus herself. The slug's capabilities are unknown, but we can see live black tendrils coming out of it. And its appearance, vile and wretched -- something that artist Mike Allred and colourist Laura Allred conveyed quite suitably. The Professor himself is convinced that the slug's real form has moved on into the Bad Guy suit. Could the creature have been the one to attack the guards and steal the suits to become Bad Guy? But then how has it taken on a human form as seen in the last panel? Odds 1:2
* Guy Smith (The Orphan). Guy is experiencing a low point in his life. He's still mourning the loss of his girlfriend, Edie Sawyer (a.k.a. U-Go Girl), and he feels conflicted about killing the threatening psychotic mutant, Arnie Lunt. Could all this have driven him over the edge? "Bad Guy" certainly claims to be Guy himself. And there's no accounting of Guy's facial cuts because of a razor -- why would he attempt to shave with a regular razor knowing that he has ultrasensitive skin? Milligan does a wonderful job of keeping the Guy character at a distance to retain the possibility that it might be Guy. And Allred's portrayal of a messy Guy certainly complements that. Are Milligan and Allred's signs misleading us to believe that it isn't Guy when in fact it is? It certainly wouldn't be the first time they've pulled a fast one over readers. Odds 1:3
* Lacuna. Lacuna isn't one to have reservations from manipulating the public, and even her friends in X-Statix, for top ratings for her television show, Lacuna and the Stars. And the "Good Guy, Bad Guy" hype is her show's after all. Could the "Bad Guy" figure be part of the stunt? Joining in the hunt for Bad Guy, Lacuna exclaims that she can't phase in and out between moments to take off his mask -- how is this possible? Hmm... very suspicious. The mastermind Milligan aptly throws in this little tidbit to keep readers second-guessing, while Allred's depiction of her in her everyday outfits keep her innocently away from the action. Could it be that Bad Guy really is her phasing in and out between moments controlling the armour? Odds 1:5
* Spike Freeman. The X-Statix's owner himself isn't devoid of such devious tactics to boost hype around his media darling team. Ever since Spike was brave enough to join Guy in his game of Russian Roulette, Milligan has made sure to instill unpredictability in his character. Even if we're shown Spike watching the team fight Bad Guy on live television, there's always the possibility of a lackey or remote control. One thing for sure is that Spike is always pulling the strings from behind the curtain. Here, this is shown in the dark, seedy scene with Venus and Tike Alicar (a.k.a. The Anarchist) -- a scene that's an artistic achievement by Allred, wherein he experiments with cross-hatch inking and silhouettes to convey a secretive mood. After dividing convincing Myles Alfred (a.k.a. Vivisector) and Billy Bob Reilly (a.k.a. Phat) to "come out" as a gay couple, and using Edie's death for a team name-change to avoid legalities, could "Bad Guy" be Freeman's latest stunt for publicity? Odds 1:5
* Professor X. Good old Charlie has been the poster boy of mutants the world over because of his neverending dream. But on the flip side of the coin, we've also seen a much more calculating, and manipulative side to him -- one who is capable of using unorthodox means to reach his short-term goals. And Allred's rendition of the retro Professor certainly complements the more manipulative side of the character. Could the Professor be mentally controlling Guy (or anyone else) in the suit to do what Bad Guy has done as the ultimate test for two of his students, Guy and Venus? Why else would the tinkering Milligan use the character in this storyarc other than as supporting for Venus? Odds 1:10
* Arnie Lunt (The Mysterious Fan Boy). Arnie grew a strong hatred towards X-Statix, especially Guy, after his idol, Edie Sawyer, was killed in a mission. After being thwarted by the team, Arnie blackmailed them into recruiting him to become a member. Knowing they'd never be rid of Arnie, Guy conspired with Lacuna to kill him. But did he really die? Can Arnie die of a lethal injection? Can a reality-altering mutant be killed by heart failure? Is Bad Guy really Arnie out to exact revenge? Odds 1:25
* Solomon O'Sullivan. As a legal beagle and formidable media adversary of Spike Freeman, Solomon despises Spike and the X-Statix, for upshowing his own team, O-Force, during the Arnie Lunt debacle. So Solomon is a likely candidate with his vengeful state of mind. Here, we see that his mutant power of "skin calligraphy" has taken on an unexpected cryptic turn, wherein he himself doesn't know how to decipher the messages. It's in this scene that Milligan and the Allreds make great creative use of Solomon's powers as a pivotal plot device. However, after drinking and becoming intoxicated, he can conveniently read the true messages coming out telling him that Bad Guy is not Guy Smith. But can his skin convey that which he doesn't know? It's certainly not something that's been shown before, and we can see that Solomon himself is surprised. Unless... he himself is Bad Guy and his skin merely writing out that which he himself knows. Odds 1:50
* Edie Sawyer (U-Go Girl). Fans of Edie, both real life and in-canon, mourned the passing of such a lovable character. The event made us/them love the team's story even more, while at the same time, hate what they had done to our/their dear Edie. Such a masterful dichotomic weaving by Milligan climaxed with Arnie Lunt's anger as The Mysterious Fan Boy representing "real" fans to play god with the team. With this, Milligan would certainly stir up controversy because of Marvel's "Dead is Dead" policy -- something that would be on multiple dimensions, and work as the aftermath of the Edie/Arnie epic, and be the ultimate manipulation of real-life/fantasy boundaries that he's been doing so far with the book. Odds 1:100
* Bill Jemas. Ahh, BJ himself. Many a time have creators been cleverly inserted into comics by themselves and by peers. Could becoming a Marvel character himself called "Bad Guy" be Jemas' latest hijinks? Could Jemas have the gaul to invade Marvel's sole media-oriented book with his presidential presence and maybe even promote a project or two in canonic existence? Odds 1:1,000,000
Overall, this middle installment of The Moons of Venus has made me excited again with the book. Milligan uses the mystery and build-up towards the cliffhanger to overshadow the Guy-centrism. And the art team has definitely used its versatile skills to complement each of Milligan's scenes. The only downside is that we're left hanging for 30 days!