As much as I’m not a fan of the way that Emma Frost went evil again, and as much as I really don’t care about the Secret Empire event, this current story arc keeps getting better and better with each issue. That’s not to say it’s great, but this comic could have been a lot worse.
Written by Cullen Bunn, X-Men Blue 9 continues where the last issue left off. Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson just invaded Emma Frost’s tower, where the rest of their team is being held prisoner, and then Danger and Polaris suddenly revealed themselves to help. Most of this issue is one big fight scene, whether it’s Polaris and Havok dueling with enough intensity to destroy the building, Jean and Jimmy taking out a bunch of Hellfire gunmen or the teenaged X-Men taking on Emma Frost and a mind controlled Cyclops. Danger and Polaris each take care of their opponents with relative ease, to the surprise of nobody who knows what they’re capable of. Emma Frost causes a fair amount of trouble though.
While Jean Grey fights Emma Frost to help Cyclops regain his mind, it delves a bit into how twisted Emma Frost has become since adult Cyclops died. She’s trying to turn teenaged Cyclops into the image she sees of her former boyfriend, and it’s really creepy, but it’s also tragic in a sense. Instead of trying to help her emotionally recover from her loss, Havok freely goes along with her plan as if he’s slowly going crazy himself. One thing’s for sure, the focus on Cyclops trying to regain control of his mind is far more interesting than Jimmy Hudson was in the previous issue. The thing that really helped this issue for me was the closer, which starts to tie together a lot of the villains that have been popping in and out of this series. Until now, X-Men Blue has felt really unfocused. Hopefully the ending teaser means this series will start feeling more focused from now on.
The art is handled by both Cory Smith and Thony Silas, and it switches artists about half way through the comic. The first half (I’m pretty sure it’s Smith’s half), is great. There’s a lot of detail in the environments, especially with the destruction that Havok and Polaris are causing, and the green magnetic energy being thrown around looks brilliant. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions, like Polaris’s grin before she unleashes herself, and the look of relief on Beast’s face when Jean telekinetically removes their power dampeners. The second half is a lot more stylized and much less detailed. It still looks decent with the energy being thrown around, but the change is jarring, and a lot of the backgrounds contain minimalistic detail. I won’t call it a nosedive in quality since the facial expressions are still good (if more stylized), but it’s not as good. The colouring by both Matt Milla and Irma Kniivila is good. In both halves of the comic, the comic is bright and colourful, with good use of shading, and the second half makes great use of glares from lights in the background.
My feelings about this comic are still mixed like the last issue, but it is a huge improvement. The main difference might be that it focuses less on Jimmy, who I haven’t found the least bit interesting so far. The action is good, the dialogue between Jean and Scott after the fight adds a bit of drama to the comic, and the ending teaser is kind of intense. This tie-in may have started rough, but at least the closing issue is pretty good.