Comics Continuum 3/22/02
FIRST LOOK: MUTANT X: ORIGIN
Pics from Comics Continuum
Mutant X: Origin will arrive in stores on Wednesday from Marvel Comics. The issue is written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman, with art by Lee Ferguson, Ignacio Calero and /Jon Holdredge. The issue also includes two pages of features by Rob Allstetter.
Here's how Tischman describes the issue:
"Issue #1 of the comic book is a double-sized issue, an origin story of sorts, telling how Adam, and his then mentor, Paul Breedlove, are recruited by the government to run Genomex, and how the initial genetic tinkering occurred," Tischman explained. "The TV series starts with all the characters - and conflicts - in place, and we thought it'd be fun to start the comic from the beginning, to give the fans some behind-the-scenes information and insight into Adam and his philosophical nemesis, Eckhart."
Mutant X: Origin will be 48 pages and will cost $3.50.
© Comics Continuum
The 4th Rail 3/27/02
Critiques on Infinite Earths by Don MacPherson MUTANT X: ORIGIN #1 "Once Upon a Time..."
Not Recommended (2/10)
Writers: David Tischman & Howard Chaykin
Pencils: Lee Ferguson
Inks: Jon Holdredge
Colors: Hi-Fi Designs
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
Editors: Mike Marts & Andrew Lis
Price: $3.50 US/$5.65 CAN
I've caught bits and pieces of the syndicated Mutant X show from time to time; never really drew me in. So going into this comic-book one-shot, my interest in the property and the characters was low. Now, it's ever lower. Mutant X is not, as Fox purported, an X-Men ripoff. Instead, it's more of a riff on The X-Files, but from the point of view of the conspirators and ex-conspirators. Sounds like a strong concept, but ultimately, it's cliched and not terribly compelling.
More than two decades ago, genetics students and friends Adam and Paul founds their research cut short by a lack of funding, and in stepped a government-connected corporation called Genomex. Before long, their experiments shifted from mustard plants to human beings, but their first attempt at creating a superhuman went horribly wrong. That's when the company's security chief found his body and mind twisted by an accident, and when Adam discovered that he could no longer live with Genomex's ethics, or lack thereof.
Ferguson's art just doesn't bring enough definition to a script that is in dire need of it. Backgrounds are lacking, and the characters are portrayed inconsistently. There's a nice Kyle Hotz influence at play in the art that suits the story's dark tone, but in the end, the visuals are as uninteresting as the plot.
I suppose one can assume that this comic book will be of interest only to fans of the TV show, those familiar with the characters and the premise. The writers certainly seem to make that assumption. I had a passing familiarity with the players and plot, but I was nevertheless lost at several points in the book. This is not an accessible introduction to the world of Mutant X.
Perhaps the greatest problem with the book, though, is that the premise is a bit too much to swallow. For one to believe in this story, one has to accept that a man as brilliant as Adam is pretty oblivious and even naive, and I just don't buy it. Furthermore, the plot elements are rather tired, and there's a vagueness in the script that's unsettling.
© The 4th Rail
Comix Fan 7/30/02
Mutant X Origin
Reviewer: Brandon Yates, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quick Rating: Above Average
Story Title: Once Upon A Time...
The first of an irregular series of one-shots, this one focuses on the origin of Mutant X's founder as well as its nemesis.
Written by: David Tischman & Howard Chaykin
Penciled by: Lee Ferguson
Inked by: Jon Holdredge
Lettered by: Tom Orzechowski
Colored by: Hi-Fi Design
Assistant Editors: Mike Raicht & Lynne Yoshii
Editors: Mike Marts & Andrew Lis
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
President: Bill Jemas
Before I dive into this belated review I must first admit that I in fact do not watch the Mutant X television series. Or, rather, I don't any more. Not after the first episode, which I didn't like. At all. But, for now, I digress...
When first picking up this double-sized book, priced at $3.50 no less, one would almost cringe at the prospect of reading so large a story about characters who, on the surface, seem as interesting as baked Spam. But something unexpected happened, something that I was not prepared for. In between gasps of disbelief, I gathered my wits and came to the stern realization that... I kinda liked it!
I didn't love it. I didn't like it a lot. But I liked it, which, to me, is something of a minor miracle (there's something to be said of backhanded compliments. What exactly, I don't know). Tischman & Chaykin's narrative, while questionably paced, made for an effective back-story that fans of the television show should appreciate. Lee Ferguson's pencils, if a tad under whelming, were up to the task and hit the marks when most needed.
The origin tale begins as "Adam" and "Paul" continue their research into the mustard plant, while running dramatically low on funds. No last names are given, much like comics in the early '90s when every other character hid their real name, instead adapting codenames that began with an X or nicknames that ended with a Z. Sorry, it just seemed a bit silly to start Adam and Paul at their very human beginnings while holding onto meager mysteries. I mean, unless their last names are "Ant" and "Simon" who really cares? The regular Mutant X viewers, I suppose, so I'll bow to their tastes.
Tischman and Chaykin do an adequate job of crafting sympathetic characters in Adam and Paul, as they seem to be very nice guys who strive to utilize their talents in the pursuit of knowledge. As if right on cue the ominous Government comes barging into the lives of our struggling scientists and offers them an opportunity to apply their knowledge as a part of GenoMex, a project that would hopefully result in the breeding of disease-resistant, genetically perfect humans. I'm not sure what "genetically perfect" means since genes are so unique and complex that it's hard to believe one would know when they have reached perfection, but it's a common sci-fi theme and I'll let it stand.
Marcus Eckhart, who would become the main villain of the TV show, is introduced as an enforcer of sorts, a man packing heat and claiming that he works "to make sure the government's interests are protected." There was definitely a chilly air about the character, thanks mostly to Ferguson's art, and you don't even need a before-hand knowledge of events to realize that the man is trouble and will demonstrate thusly by story's conclusion.
I can go on and on about the events in this thirty-six page story, but suffice it to say that it is a decent, sometimes compelling, look at the beginnings of scientific exploration, the tragedies of discovery and the fallout of betrayal.
Tischman & Chaykin are excellent character writers, and they demonstrates some (though not all) of that here with a believable hero in an alluringly mysterious situation. I found the pacing a bit wanting, feeling the writing duo didn't spend enough time in the "fifteen years later" segment of the story, jumping almost immediately into the action-packed frenzy that would lead to Adam leaving GenoMex and recruiting those that would comprise Mutant X. Also, for me, the jokes oft-times fell flat and seemed inappropriate in their timing; I could almost hear the writing team saying to each other "A hokey joke here, an ironic witticism there. Tension relieved!" and giving each other high fives.
I'm relatively new to Lee Ferguson's artwork and I can't say I'm overly impressed, but I won't call it disappointing either. His characters' facial expressions seem both exuberant and bland at the same time, kind of like Barbie & Ken dolls. I liked his panel placement, especially during the action sequences, but the more quiet areas in the book were done more or less by the books, as far as storytelling. He does draw a mean Marcus Eckhart, at least five times more chilling than that passively creepy Andy Warhol guy on the cover.
I would recommend checking this book out on a discount (I can't honestly say it's worth $3.50), and if you're someone who dislikes the television series, but is intrigued by the premise of Mutant X, I would suggest giving this book the once over so you could decide for yourself.
© Comix Fan