Review by Will Morgan
A couple of years after the conclusion of the critically-acclaimed X-Statix series, Peter Milligan and Mike Allred issued this follow-up, to no great fanfare and little apparent demand.
When deceased heroes and villains, such as the Anarchist, Kraven, Mysterio and Miss America return from the grave, under the command of a villain dubbed ‘The Pitiful One’, their murderous rampages inspire Doctor Strange to seek assistance from another dead hero – in fact, the deadest: Dead Girl, formerly X-Statix’s zombie-in-chief. Doc and Dead Girl assemble a random posse of dead heroes – including Ant-Man, the Orphan, and the Phantom Rider – and descend into Hell to seek answers, while back in the mortal plane Strange’s physical body is threatened by, among others, his former mentor, the Ancient One.
There’s some sort of half-arsed commentary going on about the ‘revolving door of heaven’ in mainstream comics, where characters who are irrevocably, inarguably deceased come back with a depressing regularity – but the story as a whole is so formless, with characters joining and disappearing at whim, that no-one seems to care enough to come to an actual point.
There’s also serious flaws with both the characterisation and the artwork – while it’s fine to portray Doctor Strange as an older man, the depiction of him as a virtual fussy old lady, complaining about stale cookies and haemorrhoids, grates, and Nick Dragotta, the layout artist over whose work Allred provided finishes, gives a loose, unstable feel to the illustrations which, while presumably intended to unsettle, merely irritates.
A massive negative reaction was also experienced with regard to squeaky-clean, heroic figures like the Ancient One and Miss America being portrayed as having been condemned to Hell, and recruited to a group of mass-murderers. So great a reaction, in fact, that the powers-that-be at Marvel subsequently disavowed the series, saying that all the Pitiful One’s minions were actually demonic constructs, rather than the characters they purported to be, taking away what little purpose the series had to begin with.
Despite (a few, and scattered) amusing moments, a clear case of going back to the creative well once too often. The X-Statix franchise should really have been allowed to rest in peace.
This is collected along with all other X-Statix material in the oversize hardback X-Statix Omnibus.