Brian Wood’s X-book continues to get better and better for me. The initial Arkea arc that at the time seemed rushed, now works a lot better, since it’s being continued, and the idea of a ‘Sisterhood Of Evil Mutants’ makes a hell of a lot of sense as adversaries for an all-female team of X-Men.
The issue opens with Typhoid Mary breaking into the Mansion and stealing all of the Arkea files, which is easily picked up on by Rachel Grey and Psylocke. Psylocke gives chase, and allows Mary to think she got away. The X-Men call up John Sublime to tell him about what’s happened, but he already knows, as he’s been kidnapped by Lady Deathstrike, who forces him to tell her what Arkea really is. He tries to stop her from opening it, warning her how dangerous and powerful his sister is, but when Deathstrike does open it… it’s inert, the sample is dead. This is good news for Sublime, in that he now knows his sister can be killed, but bad news too, as he lets slip that there are other fragments of her still out there. Typhoid Mary grabs those locations out of his mind, leaving him a gibbering mess. Deathstrike and Mary go off in search of an Arkea fragment, leaving Psylocke able to bring Sublime back to the X-Mansion and tell everyone else what’s going on.
The location of the first Arkea fragment, which is a meteorite, is coincidentally right near the cabin in Norway where the Thor villain Enchantress has been exiled to. Deathstrike and Mary come across her, and after a brief fight, come to an understanding. Deathstrike explains that, with Arkea, she can restore the Enchantress’ powers, and then some, and she also agrees to do the same thing for Mary, to fix her split personalities permanently. And so, a Sisterhood is formed, and it’s a pretty formidable team. I was very surprised to see the Enchantress show up here, but this is the kind of thing I like, this team, featuring a Thor villain and a Daredevil villain, really makes this title feel like a part of a wider universe, which is something X-Men books can sometimes struggle with.
Brian Wood also continues to develop the subplot with Bling, as she discusses her problems with being rejected for a date with Mercury to Jubilee. Wood makes an interesting point about how the X-Men are supposed to be all super-tolerant, but nobody is doing anything to stop people being a bit homophobic towards her, and then it takes a surprising turn, as Bling kisses Jubilee! Is that on? Isn’t Jubilee a teacher? How old is she supposed to be anyways? It’s confusing, but it may just have been to make Mercury jealous, it was hard to read her expression.
As I said, this title, after a shaky start, is getting good now, the art, from both the Dodsons and Barry Kitson, was great, and the villains are awesome. I do think that maybe it was a bad idea to do an issue that was so villain-centric when the main heroes aren’t really that well established, but it doesn’t matter when the story is well-written.