Comic Book Review: X-Men #23
G. Willow Wilson, the celebrated writer of Ms. Marvel, begins this new arc with a fun setting and even more fun character: a Burning Man-like music festival and Gambit. Our favorite thief/charmer is doing what he does best — trying and failing to flirt with women — when he gets a front row seat to what appears at first to be a natural disaster. The ground opens up like a sinkhole or earthquake, at the same time a cackling storm swirls above. Naturally, his first call is to the Jean Grey School to reach Storm.
Wilson’s four-issue arc focuses on Storm, Psylocke, Monet, and Rachel Grey in turn, and Storm shows off her knowledge of electricity and weather here. Even though Storm is a bossy leader, she still commands the respect of her X-Men peers. They watch in awe as Storm tries to subdue the storm. Wilson writes great dialogue: Storm and Rachel’s rocky relationship has always been one of the most interesting things about this title, and Wilson continues it. I love Rachel’s reaction to Storm’s instruction to “stay here and scout the perimeter.”
Jubilee is also in this issue, enjoying quality time with Shogo at the JGS when Gambit calls. Jubilee has been both the heart and the comic relief in this title, and here we see both elements depicted with ease. I like how penciler Roland Boschi gives Jubilee classic Nike high tops. Jubilee feels most happy and relaxed when she’s with Shogo, so I’m glad Wilson chose to keep them together in the story here.
Boschi’s style is similar to Mahmud Asrar (All-New X-Men) and Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Magneto, Astonishing X-Men): simple, flat, angular outlines, with distinct juxtaposition between the foreground characters and the panel backgrounds. Boschi’s style is also reminiscent of Kris Anka, especially with faces: see the faces of the two women when Gambit first speaks to them. The drawing is impressive when an explosion catches Rachel, Monet, and Psylocke by surprise: their bodies are caught in motion, in mid-air.
Storm is still grieving Wolverine, whom she shared a romantic relationship with. Wilson shows us Storm’s inner process in a surprising way. I like how Monet speaks up to Psylocke and Rachel about Storm’s changed behavior since Wolverine’s death. Wilson is excellent at showing the different personalities of these X-Men. There’s a brief exchange between Psylocke and Rachel that shows their very different personalities, despite their similar powersets: both are telepathic and telekinetic.
Storm is formidable not just for her mutant powers, but for her intelligence. Wilson lets Storm show off here: this issue is packed with more science than any preceding issue in this X-Men volume, and it’s refreshing. Wilson allows Storm to continue grieving Wolverine’s death, while writing dialogue that accurately reflects Rachel Grey, Psylocke, Monet, Jubilee, and Gambit. Lee Loughridge’s colors amp up the eeriness and intensity of a sinister, terrestrial foe. Wilson’s thoughtful writing perfectly captures the maturity of these X-Men teammates.