‘Come for the superscience – Stay for the snark‘.
Though in fairness the line they’re already using (“Don’t miss this new limited series that will surely change how you look at the X-Men and the Periodic Table of Elements FOREVER“) is pretty damn good too. In the latest episode of Blue Jumper I mentioned X-Club in passing, describing it as “X-Men meets The Thick of It“. Like that British political satire, this is about the people who make things happen, the kingmakers, who step in to set things to rights when those in power, well, screw up. Ever since Cyclops set up Utopia as a sovereign state he’s been sliding down the idealism scale towards blunt pragmatism. He needs fixers, and in Dr Nemesis, Danger, Dr Kavita Rao and Madison Jeffries – he has found the team he needs. Spurrier sizes up Cyclops’ dilemma quite well in this first issue. Basically he requires a PR coup, so together the X-Club deliver one – they create a space elevator fixed in geosynchronous orbit, the kind of technological advancement human scientists would find impossible to realize.
Then an encounter with Atlantean protestors combined with Danger – who lest we forget began killing students of the X-Men the moment she became a self-aware artificial intelligence – starting to wig out quickly erodes whatever goodwill this scientific marvel was meant to generate. Seems poor Cyclops cannot catch a break.
On our way to the inevitable public relations disaster, Spurrier introduces plenty of interesting character moments to draw in new readers. Dr Nemesis is perfectly pitched as both utterly obnoxious and strangely charming all at once. His undisguised contempt for the journalists assembled at Cyclops’ press conference is a highlight of this issue. See, just like Malcolm Tucker. Then there’s Kavita Rao, still hoping to atone for her actions in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men by working alongside the mutant race after having tried to eliminate it with her ‘cure’. Fittingly she appears to be the conscience of the team – a fact that the others turn to their advantage when they require a sympathetic figure to convince the Atlanteans to leave. It is the little manipulative moments like this that make this book come alive. As in Uncanny X-Men, Spurrier is showing how the mutants have learned to stop dreaming and live in the cut-throat real world. Then there’s Danger. She is a living weapon. When a foreman on the construction team demands Jeffries rein ‘his ‘bot’ in, the reply is “No ‘mine’ about it. Danger’s her own gal. She’ll do what she wants.” The one-time Alpha Flight member himself is behaving a little oddly. There’s an undercurrent of attraction in his dialogue with Danger and his aloof manner appears to be becoming more pronounced. Is he – oh no! – turning Pym-esque!?
There’s an awful lot to like here. Paul Davidson’s art perfectly fits the sarcastic tone of the book, as each of the characters are given appropriately expressive features – even Nemesis, despite most of his face being covered. Given that the focus of X-Club is superscience, there promises to be a range of fantastical monsters, techporn, maybe the odd incredible vista or two. Check out Davidson’s portfolio, he’s well able for it.
Overall this is simply a well-told, excellently detailed, superhero comic that elevates the material through its sardonic humour. Easily my pick of the week.