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VINE VOICEon 22 May 2014
The latest run of `X-men' (as opposed to all the other X-men titles) is mostly based on around Storm, Rachel Grey, Jubilee and Psylocke (See X-Men Volume 1: Primer (Marvel Now) (X-Men (Marvel Numbered))). In this volume they are more of a team than an uneasy alliance, although be prepared for a number of additions to the ranks; these coming from The Jean Grey School and also other parts of the Mutant Community; Monet St Criox and Karmia Sharpander in particular, the latter more proactive than victim. John Sublime is also on hand, still seemingly intent on making good.

This arc is something of a world-wide struggle both in terms of fighting and strategic decisions, action and narrative in equal measure. Picking up from the themes of the previous volume.

In outline; Ana Cortes spoilt young daughter of billionaire is playing way over her head by being willing host to the consciousness of Lady Deathstrike, in turn recruiting Typhoid Mary and The Enchantress (currently in exile on Earth thanks to Thor). They shake loose Arkea (again see X-Men Volume 1: Primer (Marvel Now) (X-Men (Marvel Numbered))) in the hope she will aid them- Deathstrike more power, Typhoid Mary to be whole again (handled with a degree of pathos) and Enchantress to get out of exile. Now if you've read the previous arc then you'll know Arkea is not the best choice of an ally and as the narrative progresses it seems this `sisterhood' is not done in collecting others to its ranks. (No more info-spoiler zone) As the title suggests this is all about getting the dead back and into action, for better or for worse.

Writer Brian Wood keeps up the pace from the previous volume. The battle between the X-men and Sisterhood is another of the refreshing trading of blows and manoeuvres with the advantage swinging from one side to the other.(So the reader is spared three-quarters of a book's worth of tedium as the villain gets an easy ride while telling everyone how powerful they are). The dialogue is peppered with wry or sardonic comments, and the sense of the X-men's formidable ability to act as cohesive unit (when not hitting each other) is brought to the fore, underscored by some of the villains warning never underestimate the X-men.
Depth is added by a few nice touches; poignant asides and rebellious streaks by the villains; the reason why Mercury has been thumping Bling is clarified; the younger X-Men taking on Arkea possessed Sentinels; Karmia's intention to no longer to be just a machine for others to use.
Terry Dodson is the principal penciller; his work does have a nice flowing style to it and his ability to convey action is effective; I felt there was slight tendency for some of the female characters to look a bit generic, if it weren't for distinguishing costumes or 'marks', but that might be me being picky. The conveyance of poise and expression when a character is central is arresting.

Covering 6 issues of the latest X-men run (#7-#12) this is a longer read than some, and as said earlier gives scope for a large cast, some familiar, others had me scrambling to my favourite Marvel ref site (with resulting `Oh yeh, of course'), nothing of this detracts from the tale and thus gives value for money.

I often stooge around before making this kind of investment, but having enjoyed the preceding volume felt the urge to grab this one as soon as possible; suffice to say it was not a disappointment.
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The story running through issues #7-12 of the X-Men (Volume 4) is collected as X-Men Volume 2: Muertas. This story begins after X-Men: Battle of the Atom, so there is no X-Men team as such, based at the Jean Grey School. However, that does not stop the Evil Dead from rising and trying to conquer the world, so a new team if formed by the simple expedient of everyone standing around when the crisis is discovered being given orders; old X-Men, Young X-Men, New Mutants, recently Dead X-Men, even Quentin Quire.

This is mainly an X-Girls team again, just like the first volume of this current series, due to the fact that all the men are either outlaws or in an Avengers team. The only two male members I noticed were Quentin Quire (X-Reform School inmate) and Hellion of the New Mutants, and he was in his underwear:
"It's a swimsuit!"
"Not fooling anyone!"
"I thought when you said we were going to the beach, you meant actually going to the beach."

Anyway, it is a very entertaining story, with good scripting and artwork. The storyline hops between locations all over the world, there are several guest-stars and guest-villains, a world-threatening menace, and several dead people make a re-appearance (for real) and in a believable way.

A spoiled rich kid buys Lady Deathstrike's personality to use as a recreational drug, courtesy of a mad scientist. Lady D personality wants to recover the Omega Sentinel technology from the Jean Grey School to use on herself, not knowing that it is now up and running as Karima Shapandar returned to life. Things escalate when Typhoid Mary steals, on her behalf, a sample of the Arkea virus, which brings John Sublime calling. Long story short, Arkea is activated and offers Mary and the Enchantress their heart's desire to aid her in conquering the world, and bringing back from the dead some old foes of the X-Men. The X-Men send all available personnel out to combat various outbreaks, which include some old-fashioned Sentinels, and eventually there is a big showdown, with a surprising ending for some of the recently dead villains.
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on 11 September 2014
I did not enjoy this at all. Lots of characters being introduced to the story very quickly and with absolutely no explanation of who they were or where they come from. For someone like myself who is new to X-Men a little backstory would be helpful. Just a little box stating who they are, what their power is and a sentence or two. Because of this the whole thing felt like a jumbled mess.
A number of sub-plots go absolutely nowhere.
All in all, this seems to be a case of having an insanely powerful, but very boring enemy to fight. Oh look, she's recruiting some people. Who are they? Who cares. Oh, we've won. Yay.
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