‘Immortal X-Men’ #9 unleashes the most sinister member of the Quiet Council as the series move ever closer to the upcoming ‘Sins of Sinister’ event, in a really darkly fun & informative issue that moves a lot of the brewing plots forward. This is a series that continues to evolve and show off just how many things can be done with such an array of characters that span the range from complicated to amoral to just pure evil.
Since the moment the Quiet Council formed there has been something sinister brewing amongst them. Probably because of the fact that the always scheming, always unethical, always sassy Mister Sinister is one of their members. All this time he’s been making moves in the shadows and those moves are about to bear some very rotten fruit.
If anyone had claimed they would know what to expect with Immortal X-Men, with its focus on the Quiet Council and their machinations, before its launch, they were surely fibbing to themselves and the rest of us. Because no one would have been able to guess most of what has gone down in this series so far, most especially what happened in this issue. I mean basically, it’s X-Men meets Groundhog Day but way more bloody and explosive and wildly different because that’s how Kieron Gillen rolls.
While I miss the switching narrator situation centering around issues that delve into what that character is doing and their overall focus, as we saw in the first few issues, it still plays an integral part here. Kate Pryde already leads a series so there is less need to really delve deep into her, instead, she plays our narrator about this particular council session in the aftermath of Judgement Day and the repeating slaughter that we’re all witness to. Having the main narration character be one that isn’t even aware of the time loop sort of situation adds a different layer to things because the person semi-aware in a sense (Destiny) plays a more subdued role.
Since the moment Sinister was named to the unelected council, the clock was ticking till the moment that his sinister nature and machinations would pit him against the council and Krakoa. No lie, I chuckled that even those on the council knew this with Shaw even having a betting pool going about how long it would take. It’s humorous in the moment but also speaks to the broken nature of this council, how they declared themselves the ruling body and put several individuals within that they could not entirely trust. Some have gone better than others, but Sinister was always a ticking time bomb.
Gillen is just able to take something familiar and make it bigger and wider with so many intriguing bits and pieces, yet make it feel so accessible. There is all kinds of talk about cloning and resets and timelines amongst other middle to higher concepts but they are wrapped up within the dark humor like Sinister wrapped up in his cape. Walking away from any issue of Immortal X-Men is going to leave one feeling full and satiated like a high-class meal presented on a more humble favorite dish that makes you feel comfortable.
No matter the topic, and no matter how bloody it needs to be, there doesn’t seem to be anything that Lucas Werneck can’t deliver in the most beautiful way possible. All the characters are always so detailed and life-like, every emotion & bit of body language crystal clear and they have a weight and presence in every panel. Panels where there is a full background are the same, dense and detailed, and feel like a proper space with dimensions. Other panels without a landscape background are structured so well as they generally are pulled in tight around the characters or are on some big bold moment like action scenes.
Speaking of the action, there is a lot going on here, and even when we see a scene “repeated” somewhat there is enough done by Werneck to make each one unique even outside of Sinister’s more and more ridiculously hilariously overkill armor sets. All the shifting paneling choices help with this, as things shift in a way to not only highlight any given moment in a unique format but also in a way that feels natural to draw our eyes and attention where it should be.
As noted this is a dark-in-tone book and the colors on the pages match this in a variety of ways, but still have a ton of vivid brightness that David Curiel does so well. One thing to note from both Werneck and Curiel is the brutal dark nature of some of the action. Yeah heads are popping and people are being flayed, but all of it is done in a way to show what is happening without fully showing what is happening. It’s not a MAX-level title with vivid detail, the colors are darkened and the detail is pulled back a bit so that it’s brutal, but almost in a darkly comical way.
Curiel’s mixing of lighter and darker colors helps enhance the details and depth of the artwork, making the spaces lusher or popping with personality. From the cool colors of the council chamber to the bright almost garish colors of Sinister’s little lair. They fit the characters or space and stand apart so well as distinct spaces.
I really like how the most vivid colors are mostly saved for some of the environments, but also for the use of powers and the aforementioned panels where there is no background. Just big old splashes of bright color across the page, providing a great backdrop for whatever talking or action moment is coming to life right then. The costumes of these characters are colorful but they have shadows and are toned down a bit so that they are the middle ground between the cooler, more sedate colors and the big warm popping vivid ones.
This issue comes with a ton of dialogue and captions, and having Clayton Cowles aboard means it’s all going to flow so smoothly with a style of its own. There is an art to making sure that captions and dialogue are placed in a way that is easy to follow, doesn’t block off important portions of the artwork, and is still connected in a way to the speaker (dialogue that is) while also fitting into it all in a way that makes the eyes traveling from artwork to letters or vice versa is just natural. Cowles, like many others, makes it seem seamless.
One of my favorite panels has the Council gathered around the Sinister corpse and the captions of Kate (who is crouched in a way that makes it look like the sweetest album cover) are stacked in a way between them all. So the boxes hover over and between them so the characters are somewhat framing the boxes. One of many panels where the art and letters just work together perfectly, like a beautiful harmonious symphony. I think I might be craving a fancy night out with all these fine references.
Immortal X-Men #9 is now available from Marvel Comics.