The 4th Rail: 4/17/02
Critiques on Infinite Earths by Don MacPherson MUTANT X: DANGEROUS DECISIONS #1
Writers: Kathryn Kuder
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Karl Story
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
"Dangerous Games: The Untold Origin of Shalimar Fox"
Writers: Paul D. Storrie
Pencils: Stefano Caselli
Inks: Rich Perrotta
Letters: Letterin' Fool
Colors: Hi-Fi Designs
Editors: Andrew Lis
Price: $3.50 US/$5.75 CAN
The creators working Marvel's line of Mutant X tie-in books are really counting on their readers being intimately familiar with the syndicated television show. Sure, it's fair to expect readers to have a passing familiarity, but that's not enough to follow the action in the main story. This second Mutant X book has its strong points, but they're outweighed by a lack of clarity and accessibility.
In the main story, Emma and Brennan head into the northern wilderness to track down a couple of mutants and another friend. One of the mutants is struggling with his guilt over his mother's death, while the other is hoping to build some semblance of a new life with the aid of the wrong man. And in the backup story, we learn how Shalimar Fox's defense of her friend during their high-school years resulted in her being on the run from hired goons.
Kuder's script for the main story is practically impenetrable. Sure, she provides a little bit of information about the main characters from the TV show, but as for what's going on with the new characters she introduces... well, I just have no idea. I don't understand how or why the water mutant contacted Eckhardt, other than the fact that he's the Mutant X antagonist.
Immonen's art is soft and strong and realistic, a perfect choice for a television-adaptation comic book. His likenesses are strong, and the Hi-Fi folks add a lot of energy to the visuals with their colors. There is a problem in the dark, though. It's so shadowy that it makes it hard to tell some characters apart and to discern exactly what's happening. The fact that there's a vague quality in the dialogue doesn't help matters either.
It's easy to see that Caselli, with his art for the Shalimar origin story, is emulating the style of J. Scott (Danger Girl) Campbell. It lacks the energy and dynamics of Campbell's work, though, and ultimately, it doesn't come off as anything more than simply generic.
Now, from what I know of the Shalimar Fox character, she's provocative and sexually aggressive. That doesn't really jibe with Storrie's script here, though. This Shalimar is cautious and reserved. Aside from that potential contrast in character, though, this story is fairly standard. It's easy to see where it's headed from the start, but to its credit, Storrie presents his tale clearly, unlike the main story.
© The 4th Rail
Comix Fan 8/2/02
Mutant X: Dangerous Decisions"
Reviewer: Brandon Yates, email@example.com
Quick Rating: Below Average
Two stories for the price of... well, two! The first, a tragic story of a young mutant sought after by both Mutant X and Eckhart, followed by the untold origin of Shalimar Fox!
Written by: Kathryn Kuder
Penciled by: Stuart Immonen
Inked by: Karl Story
Lettered by: Tom Orzechowski
Colored by: Hi-Fi Designs
"Dangerous Games: The Untold Origin of Shalimar Fox"
Written by: Paul D. Storrie
Penciled by: Stefano Caselli
Inked by: Rich Perrota
Lettered by: Letterin' Fool
Colored by: Hi-Fi Designs
Assistant Editor: Lynne Yoshii
Editor: Andrew Lis
Editor-in-Chief: Joe Quesada
President: Bill Jemas
Unlike the first Mutant X one-shot, Origin, this book is more in line with the television show; campy, unoriginal and glorious in its mediocrity. Oh, sorry, did I say “unoriginal”? That was clearly a mistake, as the first story begins with Mutant X training in a metallic arena that ISN’T the Danger Room, receiving orders from someone who’s moniker ends in “X” but DOESN’T begin with “Professor,” using a mutant-tracking machine that ISN’T Cerebra, then jumping into a black jet, which ISN’T the Blackbird, hoping to catch up with a young mutant who may soon fall into the hands of Mutant X’s white-haired nemesis who ISN'T Magneto. Nah, no similarities. Like comparing apples and apple-flavored oranges.
If I were to go with what I’ve seen in this book, I would say Mutant X are a rag-tag group of irritating youngsters, juvenile in their attitudes and behavior. These are super-heroes?! There are plenty of young superheroes in comics now that prove that “teen-heroes” doesn’t necessarily mean “whiny, teasing, and overanxious.” If that were the case, I’d sign up ASAP if this whiny review were any indication.
I've never read anything from writer Kathryn Kuder before and, believe you me, this isn't the best of first impressions. Even going on what I said before, about the characters being immensely annoying, sometimes those could be valid character traits but the characters are just boring and static in their archetype. There are no sympathetic characters to be found in this story until you meet the supporting players.
Cal, The Boy With The Cancer Touch (step right up) is at the center of what becomes a mutant-hunt conducted by Mutant X and their evil archenemy Marcus Eckhart, when he takes his sister, Chris, and his mutant friend Lee on an excursion into the woods, for as-yet-undisclosed reasons. I'm already bored just getting into the details of this because though Cal, Chris and Lee were sometimes likeable characters the story around them was just so congested with cliché, over-the-top dialogue, and convenient stupidity among the players involved that it was a chore to read through. To wit: two of the kids, Lee and Cal, have the uncontrollable ability to kill people with their merest touch. Why in the world haven't they invested in gloves?! I'll tell you why not: it would have inconvenienced the story. God forbid.
Stuart Immonen is a veteran artist in the industry and I have much respect for his work, but as with all things in the first half of this book, I can barely say more than "blah" and "guh." There were a couple of nicely rendered moments, particularly with Lee The Water-Manipulator, but other places, especially the pages featuring Mutant X, were messy and convoluted.
Once Eckhart's henchmen appear out of nowhere, not unlike the dreadfully ridiculous Putties of Power Rangers fame, the rest of the story didn't stand a chance.
I suppose the editors decided to save the best for last because the second half of Mutant X: Dangerous Decisions offers us a more down-to-earth telling of the origin of Shalimar Fox, the Mutant X member who is all feral-like but without the icky body hair that usually comes with. Because, of course, why give us a visually distinctive mutant character with an effective make-up design, when you can have a hot blonde jumping around in halter-tops explaining to uninterested passer-by why she's named after a town in Florida? Feh...
Shalimar and her homely friend, Doreen, attend a "Granger Island Party" courtesy of their preppy, sexually eager male acquaintances. Apparently Fox has a history with the lead prepper, Lee (there's that tired name again), so the testosterone fueled jock makes a beeline toward Doreen instead. It's up to Shalimar Fox to keep Doreen's saintly innocence intact, while at the same time keeping in check the mutant ferociousness within.
Besides the ferociousness (or maybe not) this story was no different than what you've seen on the Lifetime Network many times before, and, if that's your thing you will probably appreciate this story and maybe even get into it more in light of the mutant aspect. It's not my thing, however, because such obviousness can never be worth $3.50.
I will commend Paul Storrie for his knack for character interactions (as seen in his Justice League Adventures comic), which probably saved the entire tale from being a miserable read. Caselli's artwork is not my cup of tea, but it was indeed appropriate for this story, which was very light and harmless. Unlike the first half of the book.
© Comix Fan