The X-Men might be on their way towards proving themselves as Earth’s greatest heroes, but they’re still human. That means they still have fears just like everyone else, yet there’s something in the air making those fears much scarier…
This Halloween issue finds the X-Men facing a familiar Marvel villain. It makes for a scary issue, but it’s not without its faults. It comes from Gerry Duggan, Javier Pina, Erick Arciniega, and Clayton Cowles.
Nightmare has come to New York City on Devil’s Night and he’s pleased to discover the city’s newest heroes have delicious fears. However, one of those X-Men may just prove to be his undoing…
Honestly this issue is the weakest of the series to date, but it wasn’t without its high points. Spending so much time on the fears of the most developed members of the team felt largely just like rehashing information we already knew, especially when the exact nightmares longtime readers would have expected played out on page. This would have been a great opportunity to give similar development to Polaris, Sunfire, and Synch instead of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Wolverine.
At the same time, Duggan really shines when Jean Grey wakes up from her nightmare and confronts the demon haunting her family. This is the bold, yet compassionate Jean I think we needed after decades of her being underwritten or only being used as a nagging wife. Standing as a figure of hope and compassion is exactly how she should be written, and it was much needed.
Pina and Arciniega step in and do a pretty great job on guest art; although it’s still early in the series run, which makes the guest spot stand out. The duo nevertheless make style tweaks to their work which fit Larraz and Gracia’s style, while still making the issue their own. I really liked Pina’s take on Nightmare and his steed, which had just enough creepiness that they were unsettling without pulling the reader out of the story. Arciniega’s colors were dark, without obscuring any details of the story, making it feel like a full moon was out, rather than just dark and dreary.
Another downside to this issue was the way it ground the overall plot momentum to a halt. Things were just cranking up and getting good, but unfortunately we ran into this issue after that — guest art and all. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this issue, but it did feel a bit out of place. I imagine this issue was just a single installment detour with the larger plot picking up in November, but it was frustrating nonetheless.
Hopefully, we see more of the positive side of this series in the near future, as what was good was really good.
X-Men #4 is available now from Marvel Comics.
While a decent issue on its own merits, it is a bit of a rough issue in the overall picture of the series. A fun detour that feels a bit out of place.