This was an odd issue of X-Men that felt a bit disjointed. It seemed like the villains, and Brian Wood too, had forgotten about he Sentinel plotline until right at the very end, and that even though they are connected via Arkea, they weren’t written as if they were part of the same deal. I dunno, maybe it’s just me. The art from Kris Anka and Clay Mann was awesome though.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this issue was the increased focus on the new Lady Deathstrike and her state of mind (or should that be minds) as we see for the first time Ana Cortes and Yuriko Oyama not exactly on the same page. The issue begins with Deathstrike narrating the events of the last few issues to catch us up, and then picks up with M lying basically dead on the roof of the Cortes skyscraper in Dubai. She isn’t dead, and her escape from the authorities is helped by that Gabriel Shepherd dude, who seems pretty damn powerful. I have no idea who he is though, and it’s not really explained. M flies off and is reunited with Storm and Psylocke on the Blackbird, where we see that the X-Men are able to use a Cerebro spike that Future Xavier left behind to track Arkea, and M officially joins the team.
As for the Sisterhood Of Evil Mutants, they are wandering through the desert, seemingly lost, and Ana Cortes getting frustrated. Arkea tells Yuriko to silence the other voice in her head, and reveals that they aren’t lost, as an unmanned Helicopter under her control comes to pick them up. We then get a fun 1-page sequence with Pixie and Rockslide throwing satellite pieces of Arkea into the sun. I love characters throwing things into the sun, bring back The Sentry damn it.
Then there’s an awkward scene between John Sublime and Rachel Grey and their relationship, and it’s back to the action, as Storm, Psylocke and M attack Ana Cortes’ boat, only to find they aren’t there. The Sisterhood is actually in New York, as Arkea plans to expand the group. She wants to add two heavy-hitters in Madelyne Pryor and Selene, which would be pretty awesome in fact. I like the fact that Arkea is quickly turning on Deathstrike here, she really has bitten off more than she can chew.
The last few pages then finally remember the Sentinels, as Jubilee and a bunch of JGS students prepare for their arrival on Catalina Island (it’s the Catalina Mutant Mixer goddammit!). I think Wood probably adds too many characters at this point, as the likes of Quentin Quire and Hellion are involved. I think this series works best with a tight focus on the main women, and it felt like Wood’s take on a lot of these characters came out of nowhere. The issue ends with Pixie and Bling face to face with Sentinel, which is cool I guess, but it all feels very disconnected from the main Sisterhood/Arkea story.
As I said though, the art was excellent throughout, Kris Anka draws the first 15 or so pages and Clay Mann the last 5. They have different styles, but they both really fit the world of the X-Men, and fall on the same stylistic continuum that previous artists Olivier Coipel and The Dodsons do. This series is a weird one, I do enjoy it, but it’s by far the worst of the X-Men books I read. I don’t even really know why, it just feels less important.