Best Shots Review: X-MEN #9

X-Men #9
Credit: Leinil Francis Yu/Sunny Gho/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

Credit: Leinil Francis Yu/Sunny Gho/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

X-Men #9
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10

One of my favorite things about the Jonathan Hickman era of the X-Men is his willingness to just throw ideas out into the ether to see what will happen. This issue gives us a bit of a refresher on the Brood and how they work while Hickmn throws one of those ideas out there: what if the Kree engineered a weapon that would control the galaxy’s most deadly predators? As the X-Men and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard get caught between the runaway Brood and a weapon that could shift the interstellar status quo, Leinil Francis Yu shows up with some really terrifying takes on the Brood, and Sunny Gho turns in a really solid coloring effort throughout.

Credit: Leinil Francis Yu/Sunny Gho/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

I know that Yu gets some flack sometimes for his characters lacking in emotionality or some odd facial expressions here and there, and this issue definitely has a baseline stoicism to it that many might read as boring. However, I think the moments that need those pops of expression really come through. The aliens being transformed by the Brood in the opening scene or Corsair’s anger with Sunspot have really good energy to them. Yu’s style is also tailor-made for the Brood. Under Yu’s pencils, they are an unrelenting force of teeth and terror. It makes me wish that he would get more non-human characters to draw overall. I also really love the giant space fish ships that factor into this story. Yu is able to build to the big climactic scenes well, culminating in a great splash page featuring the X-Men, Starjammers, and Imperial Guard fighting off swarms of Brood. That’s where Gho’s coloring really comes through as well, juggling multiple light sources from various powers and weapons to form a really coherent and cohesive image.

Credit: Leinil Francis Yu/Sunny Gho/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

But if there’s a knock on this story, it’s that the X-Men’s involvement feels kind of perfunctory. The X-Men themselves don’t really say all that much – this is more about Hickman setting up the idea of the King Egg and needing to get Broo in a position to interact with it. It’s a history lesson on the Brood themselves and gives a better understanding of the intergalactic political dynamics of the Marvel Universe. But given everything that we know is going on back on Earth, this doesn’t necessarily feel as urgent a story as it should. It’s like a side quest from the main story. But I do like the dynamic it could bring to the rest of the X-books as we build toward Empyre, an event that seems like the X-Men may play a bigger role in than we realize. And ultimately, this is still a fairly fun, well-paced book.

Credit: Leinil Francis Yu/Sunny Gho/Clayton Cowles (Marvel Comics)

This book essentially exists for its final page, but it’s fun to see Hickman moving some chess pieces around, even if the X-Men themselves kind of take a backseat to the plot. Yu turns in some really good work here and hopefully we get to do more with the Brood moving forward. Many readers won’t be satisfied with a book that is so focused on the politics of the Kree and Shi’ar – that’s understandable. But sometimes it’s nice to see moments like these play out on the page rather than just be told they occurred somewhere, some time off-panel. It’s hard not to appreciate Hickman’s big picture world-building, even if that gets in the way of putting a focus on the characters on the cover.

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