Ahoy-hoy. I just learned that that phrase was originally a nautical term, and then was later used as Alexander Graham Bell’s preferred salutation when answering the phone back in the day. However, I, like many I presume, probably just relate it to one C. Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons. Either way, it doesn’t really have much to do with this issue. There’s water in this issue, no phones though. But I guess I can say I’m sending this comic out to sea since we’ve reached the conclusion of Spider-Man’s involvement with the X-Men. Yeah, that works, let’s go with that.
X-Men, vol. 3 #10: “To Serve and Protect,” Conclusion
Written by Victor Gischler
Penciled by Chris Bachalo with Paco Medina
Inked by Tim Townsend, Wayne Faucher, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey and Juan Vlasco
Colored by Antonio Fabela with Jim Charalampidis
Lettered by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson
Plot: Emma Frost is surrounded by lizard versions of her X-Men teammates Wolverine, Gambit and Storm. Dark Beast is watching and providing commentary as Emma fends off the mutated mutants. Spider-Man, never one to be upstaged when it comes to small talk during a battle, comes to Frost’s aid and the two escape. The heroes begin to climb toward the surface to regroup, but lizard Wolverine follows them and pulls Emma back down to the water-filled sewer below.
Spider-Man returns to help Emma out of the water and kicks Wolverine in the face when he attacks. The rest of the X-Lizards corner the duo until Emma loosens a water valve. The lizards are swept away by the surging water and Spidey and Emma scale a ladder to get to higher ground. Back in his laboratory, Dark Beast is conversing with the captured Lizard who asks to be released, promising Dark Beast that he will leave once he is freed. Dark Beast denies the request, stating that he doesn’t believe the Lizard is the kind of person to not hold a grudge against him.
Spider-Man and Emma are looking for another way out of the sewers after they seal off the way they had just come with a room filled of water. Emma is not amused when Spider-Man recommends they crawl through a tight pipeline to find where it leads. Spidey notices that Emma is no longer in her diamond-form and she suggests to the webbed-wonder that her sparkling exterior must have helped save her from turning into a lizard herself. Spider-Man explains how the Lizard’s new ability turns people into the villain’s own personal lizard lackeys. Spidey further hypothesizes that Dark Beast’s machine must act as a catalyst, accelerating the transformation.
The transformed X-Men ambush Spidey and Emma after they reach the end of the murky maze. Lizard Storm lashes out at Spidey with lightning bolts as the heroes realize that their already dangerous foes are still in control of their mutant powers. Lizard Gambit follows suit when he grabs a small reptile with his apprehensive tail, charges it with explosive kinetic energy and slings it towards Emma. Spider-Man tells Emma she needs to find Dark Beast’s machine and “make with the smashing,” while he holds the cold-blooded X-Men off.
Emma arrives back at Dark Beast’s lair, prepared to smash his machine with a wrench, but she is stopped by Dark Beast’s hench-lizard, Lars. Dark Beast taunts Emma, saying that she is incapable of telepathically overwhelming him while she is forced to stay in her diamond form. Annoyed by Dark Beast’s incessant rambling, Emma attacks Lars but is flung across the room. Luckily, she lands next to the captured Lizard. She releases the Spider-foe and the Lizard begins to thrash Dark Beast and Lars.
Spider-Man arrives in time to stop the Lizard from extracting any further revenge on the bad guys. The Lizard briefly attacks Spider-Man but relents since he is grateful to Emma for releasing him. He frees Spidey from his grip and retreats to the sewers, warning Spider-Man not to follow unless he wants to die. The X-Men, and the missing teenagers who were transformed by the machine in the last issue, are returned to their normal states, and the group returns to the surface. The X-Men are interviewed by a news reporter and hailed as heroes. Cyclops and Angel proudly watch the report on the television back home in San Francisco.
The Astonishing: Spider-Man finally comes front and center in this issue after being just a back-up character in the rest of the story arc. I still respect the fact that this is first and foremost an X-Men story, but if you’re going to have Spider-Man appear in the comic to lure readers in, why not use him to his full potential?
I really enjoyed seeing Spidey take the lead in the fight versus the X-Lizards and in saving Emma. The team-up of Emma and Spider-Man is an unconventional one, but it was really entertaining. The two have very different personalities, and that was really apparent. Her annoyance with his questions about the scandalous X-Men outfits she has worn in the past, and then her disgust with Spidey’s suggestion that they climb through the drainage pipes was pretty humorous.
The trip through the pipes was once again a great example of sequential storytelling by Bachalo. It was similar to the scenes in the first part of this story arc where the X-Men descended into the sewers. You really get a feeling of how confined that space must be when it shows Emma crawling through the sludge and Spider-Man peering around the tight corners. The tight spaces were also a good excuse to display Emma in some gratuitous shots bending over and showing cleavage, which some may not consider a bad thing.
The detail in the background and page layout is once again excellent, and probably why this issue required over half a dozen different artists. The people are still somewhat flat in the face, and, on more than one occasion, Spider-Man’s body figure is way off the mark. The shape of his body looked so flabby at times it’s a wonder he was able to squeeze through the pipes. One thing is certain though, Bachalo was the perfect artist for this issue because he had the perfect design for the Lizard and his minions. They looked especially scaly and creepy, and I can’t imagine how anyone else would have been able to capture that look. Seeing the lizards unleash the X-Men’s powers, specifically Gambit’s, was pretty cool.
I feel that the whole story arc probably could have been wrapped up in three issues as opposed to four, but I was really pleased with how it ended. I like the X-Men and Spider-Man being touted as heroes by the newsman and how everything seemed to work out in their favor.
The Uncanny: There were still some holes in the story that I felt could have been filled in, and maybe some of those early issues could have been cut down in order to address these in the later part of the arc. I would still like to know how Dark Beast was able to get the upper hand on the Lizard, especially considering the fact that Dark Beast admitted he would stand no chance against the Lizard if he released him from captivity. Gischler tried to explain how Dark Beast’s machine worked, but in the end it just seemed like everybody was turned back to normal with no problem. The machine was more of just a convenient plot device.
Some of the writing fell flat too, which is sad because Emma made a big deal about Spider-Man’s famous prattling. Writing Spider-Man must be difficult because there must be a lot of pressure to write effective witty retorts for him. The aforementioned conversation about Emma’s clothing choices was pretty good, but other remarks, such as his reference to the movie Poseidon Adventure and the “I kick yo’ face” line when he gave lizard Wolverine a boot to the face weren’t as great. The Lizard reference to Emma as Spidey’s “semi-attractive monkey friend” elicited a nice response from Emma, but the line just didn’t really feel right coming from the Lizard.
Spider-Man and his Amazing X-Friends: Despite the fact that some of Spider-Man’s lines fell a little flat, this was still a pretty enjoyable comic for a Spider-Man fan. He has more action in this issue than he has had in some of his more recent Amazing Spider-Man comics and his trademark banter was used throughout, much to the annoyance of Emma Frost. Gischler even went so far as to reference a storyline that took place in the Amazing comic by having Spidey talk about the Lizard stealing babies. As far as villains go, I feel as though Dark Beast would make a great Spidey foe. He’s a very science-based villain, like many of the other members of Spidey’s rogues gallery, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Dark Beast pop up again in Spidey’s life somewhere down the line.
Rating: Meh, action, art, story and writing; Poor, character development. 3/5 credits at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
Overall Story-arc Rating: Meh, action, art, story and writing; Poor, character development. 3/5 credits at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning
“Remember that one time during the fight when it looked like you might actually win? No? Me neither.” – Marvel vs. Capcom 3
“Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord.” – Ultimate Alliance 2