Review by Frank Plowright
Long before the internet furore over Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman image, Marvel considered acquiring the artist to draw their characters as an event. Not enough of an event to ensure all his pages were printed in register, but an event nonetheless. And it’s really down to your opinion of Manara’s work whether this graphic novel is worth your consideration. Purveyor of exploitative, degrading sexualised images of women or master artist following a long-established European tradition of admiration for the female form? You decide.
“One genius deserves another” claims Joe Quesada in his afterword, and so Chris Claremont supplied a script featuring enough female X-Men of assorted body types and hair colour to keep Manara happy. He duly pulls out his best cheescake reference material and drew them flashing as much flesh as you can in a Marvel comic. It’s all very silly, and perhaps the most interesting aspect to anyone over 25 is how Manara is unable to illustrate the simplest action in a non-provocative manner. To those with their hormones still jumping this is the closest Marvel are ever likely to come to legitimised sexual X-Men fan fiction.
There are three additional stories re-booting older characters. X-23 is a younger female cloned version of Wolverine. It’s more complicated than that, as is so much X-Men related, but Marjorie Liu’s turgid soul-searching script surely put off more buyers than it attracted. The most interesting aspects are the scratchy montage illustrations of X-23’s inner thoughts, but elsewhere Filipe Andrade and Nuno Alves are very ordinary. Mark Brooks is more accomplished depicting Dagger rescuing her former partner Cloak and dithering whether to remain with the X-Men, and Dazzler is dragged through her past. None of these stories rate a second reading.