Review by Will Morgan
With a cover spoofing the landmark Giant-Size X-Men 1, this volume kicks off a new beginning for our re-christened heroes, as they abandon their hedonistic ways and devote themselves to heroism, compassion and selflessness… No, it’s no use, that can’t be maintained with a straight face. Despite recent traumas and dramas as detailed in X-Force: The Final Chapter, our ‘heroes’ are as messed-up and self-serving as ever. With all the major events going on around them, they open this volume stressed out about the advent of O-Force, a hot new super-team – and carefully-managed reality TV series – who threaten to steal their limelight, and that about sets the high moral tone.
The opening chapters are devoted to introducing the team’s new teleporter, Venus Dee Milo, whose backstory proves that she fits right in with the rest of our maladjusted mutants, and a sidebar, guest-illustrated by Darwyn Cooke, shows what happens when one of the X-Statix trainees named Corkscrew wanders too far out of line. Doop, the resident alien/demon floating snot globule, takes him on a Blair Witch-inspired field trip to implement Code X.
The majority of this volume is taken up with a story arc involving a young man, Artie, who uses his reality-altering powers to terrorise his Minnesota hometown, in a classic homage to – or shameless ripoff of, depending on your cynicism levels – Jerome Bixby’s classic short story, “It’s A Good Life”. The solution our heroes find, after their competitors in O-Force have spectacularly failed, is both imaginative and plausible, but the involvement of their occasional ally, Lacuna, to remedy a crisis she created, threatens to backfire upon them. Paul Pope illustrates the final chapter, in which Artie’s fate is resolved, and his juddering style, though at great variance with Allred’s habitual control, is suited to the themes of ambition and betrayal.
Bonus features are minimal, but interesting. Since artist Mike Allred was allegedly never sure who was going to survive until the last minute, two alternate versions of the cover to X-Statix 1 are presented, each featuring a different line-up; and Darwyn Cooke’s character design for the luckless Corkscrew is also shown.
The story continues in Good Guys and Bad Guys, and the complete run of X-Statix can also be found as X-Statix Omnibus.