Review: ‘X-Corp’ #3 Is A Grim Sign For The Series

by Tony Thornley

I try to give a book a complete story arc before I abandon it, especially when I’m excited by the characters and concept. But after only three issues, X-Corp, unfortunately, might be an exception to that.

Cover by David Aja

This concept shows so much promise. Unfortunately, it has failed to deliver on that so far, and that’s disappointing. This issue was created by Tini Howard, Valentine De Landro, Sunny Gho, Jason Loo, and Clayton Cowles.

It’s a big day for X-Corp. Their new venture — a brand new cellular phone service — is due to launch with Jamie Madrox at the helm. But as the Multiple Man is prone to do, he has overextended himself, and external forces are maneuvering to put a stop to it. Can Angel, Penance and Multiple Man pull off a win?

When the two page back-up story is the most engaging part of the issue, the creative team needs to reevaluate their story. But since I mentioned it first, Loo and Cowles’ issue-closing back-up is one of the most clever bits of storytelling I’ve read in a long time. Loo packs a full issue’s worth (at least) of story into the two pages via inventive layouts, engaging action, and a storytelling device that makes it fun to go back and re-read it several times. Cowles’s work is a big part of pulling off the narrative tricks, too, with word balloons and captions that don’t get in the way, but enhance the story and make the experiment a success. Comics needs more stories like this.

Unfortunately the main story is much more difficult to complete. There are a couple high points, usually when Howard is leaning into the “super” side of the story — like the opening sequence and the personal tragedy that befalls Jamie late in the issue. Otherwise, the conflict is boring, the characters are flat, and there’s little reason to stay engaged or even care. Worst of all, the business side of the book often feels inauthentic; more like Howard learned this from watching TV and movies about business rather than living in it. When it’s firing on all five cylinders, she is doing a great job. The problem is that it’s not more often than it is.

De Landro is a welcome addition to this title, though. Even if he doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, his more stylized and angular work is a much better fit for the title’s super-capitalist world than the more cartoony look of the first two issues. Gho’s colors are really solid, using very plain and realistic tones for the conference and meetings, but breaking out bright and unusual tones for the superheroic side.

This is a title that I wish was just better. I’m not sure where I land with it, but I don’t think I’m patient enough with it to give it any more time to reach its potential. It’s a shame because the creative team has done so much better in the recent past.

X-Corp #3 is available now from Marvel Comics.

Overview

When the story leans into the super, it’s a blast, but that’s not often enough. The art is the best thing about it, but that’s not enough to keep me coming back.

Overall
5/10
5/10
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