This books stems directly from Marvel Comics 2005 revolutionary "House Of M" event which curbed their fictional world's mutant population down to a few hundreds out of millions, as well as preventing (for all of one "real time" year, WOW) new mutant births. Let's forget for a moment that train wreck though, and let's go back to the book at hand.
The plot: Doccor Henry McCoy, aka beast, one of the original X-Men and one of the world's premiere scholars on mutantkind, is hell bent on finding a way to reverse the apparent imminent extinction of the mutant race. In desperation, he tries everything he can to find out the truth and a way out of this evolutionary dead end, consorting with villainous mad scientists and worse on the way. Eventually, he gives up after seeing that it had nothing to do with science but all with magic, that maybe not all that looks bad also is bad, that even the "villain" deserves her newly found amnesiac idyllic peace.
Never mind the fact that the villain is a mutant born with genetic based magic powers (sic), never mind the fact that X-Men have dealt with the supernatural (hell, vampires, assorted demons...) often enough for Henry McCoy to be much more willing to look into magic scientifically. Never mind the fact that the villain's powers are thus written off as one of the worse deus-ex-machina devices of literary history, barely matched by Peter/Parker's nearly contemporary deal with the devil that cost him his marriage and all memory of it, while also deleting from everybody's memory the fact that he outed himself as the Spider-Man on national TV.
Yes, sadly, and despite a lot f top-class material, superhero comics are that bad.
This particular book should deal with Beast delving into his darkest side and coming out of hit, Heart-Of-Darkness style.
The Beast though, mostly comes off as naive, hysterical, much more stupid than writers like Grant Morrison and Josh Whedon had made him, and nearly written in a void. Nobody needs a backlog of decades of muddled continuity, but you could use good characterisation and plot points. The book is overly written as it is, less 2 cents psychoanalysis and more meat on its bones wouldn't have hurt. As a character, Beast is left unchanged and very much diminished by all this. Thak God I had forgotten about this muck when I read the brilliant SWORD book by the insanely talented Kieron Gillen, or I might have dismissed that one and I would have made a horrible mistake.
If you liked Beast n that book, in Grant Morrison's New X-Men and in Josh Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, please forgive him here though: What can he do about it? They just wrote him like crap...
Paradoxically, in a tale that strives to be so deep and manages to misquote Machiavelli in the process, it is still the classic superhero artists like Mark Bagley and Tom Grummett that manage to turn out the best artwork, even more suited to the book than the dark, more realistic art of the rest. Probably,because it remains at heart a below average superhero yarn, not science fiction, not fantasy, not horror, not introspective fiction: Thus only good superhero artists can make sense of it. Scot Eaton comes close in his efforts, but after some great pages he gets sucked into the genera mediocrity too. Mike Perkins is a total disappointment, he is good enough with realistic but he is given two furry monsters to draw, and all he can do is draw ugly men and awkwardly stick tufts of hair on them.
There is also nearly no difference to be noted among the writers of the various chapters. My half-guess is that Carey excels at the psychological portrait, sometimes remotely remembering us of his Unwritten and Hellblazer work, while Gage is the most hard-boiled writer of the bunch and Yost is competent and leagues above his abysmally bad New X-Men work.
I had rated this book at one stars first, but I'll settle for two, in reluctant honour of Carey's, Bagley's and Grummett's misguided efforts. There's worse, after all.