Review: ‘X-Men’ #16 Heads Back Into The Vault
by Tony Thornley
Easily one of the best stories of the last three years of X-Men has been the recurring motif and evolution of the Vault. The artificial world full of post-humans has claimed three of the X-Men’s best. In X-Men #16, Forge leads the team back into the Vault, hoping to save one of their own.
Gerry Duggan, Joshua Cassara, Guru-eFx, and Clayton Cowles lead a rescue mission with a hell of a twist.
Forge has entered the Vault, using Caliban to search for Darwin. While the team waits anxiously outside, things start to go wrong both inside and out of the Vault. Can the X-Men accomplish their mission without unleashing the Children of the Vault back into the world?
After last issue set the stakes for this mission, Duggan just brings the tension. Drawing on the strained relationship between Cyclops and Havok, making the central fight scene of the issue initiated by not just Alex Summers being a hothead, but also his still-ongoing mental health struggles, adds an unexpected depth to the story. This isn’t just a story about the X-Men against a threat, but one of Alex Summers fighting his internal feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, and losing. Cowles in particular captures that in how he paces Duggan’s dialogue.
As for Forge’s plotline, we see how far Forge is willing to go to accomplish his goals and it’s horrifying. Forge has proven himself to be the best techsmith in the world, and in this story, he shows that no moral line will stand in his way to accomplish those goals. It’s a fascinating profile of the character, wrapped in the most interesting plot the franchise has had since HOXPOX. I want to see more of this Forge.
I love seeing what Cassara is doing here. His distinct style shines through, but he backs off from the layer of grime that was always present in X-Force and Wolverine. It’s cleaner, and a bit shinier, but still has the edge that made him the right guy for the main book. His layouts drive the story, and create a sense of motion as the action unfolds. His figure work is distinct, giving each member of the team their own personality on the page. Guru does a great job over his linework, making the Vault feel ethereal with the color choices for the environment.
There is so much here that makes me excited for this second year of this title to continue. From the interpersonal conflict, to the shadowy dealings, this is what the potential of this series can be. I’m excited to see what’s next from here.
X-Men #16 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Revisiting one of the strongest arcs of the previous volumes of X-Men creates one of the best arcs of the volume to date. The art is still and the writing is full of some fantastic threads. I can’t wait to see what’s next.