Saturday, September 04, 2010

X-Men: Smoke and Blood #1

Simon Spurrier & Gabriel Hernandez Walta

As part of the Curse of the Mutants crossover, X-Men: Smoke and Blood deals with the virus that has been engineered and released into the world, infecting people, such as former X-Men and mutant Jubilee, with a vampiric disease that makes them weak to sunlight and the mental suggestions of actual vampires, until it slowly transforms them into vampires themselves.  X-Men: Smoke and Mirrors is a one-shot that focuses on the scientist group of the X-Men, including Dr. Nemesis Dr. Rao and Jeffries, as they try to find a cure for this new virus.  So, the X-Men have captured a live subject for them to do tests on, and they think that they've found a cure that they've put into a serum, but before they have time to test it out, the vampire escapes.  There's plenty of good creepy moments in this dark, moody book.  Great idea, great atmosphere, all taking place in an isolated area where the scientists are stuck with a monster that's stalking them.  At first glance, I thought that they were doing a whole "edgy 30 Days of Night" type of look with the comic, making it all gritty and alternative-like with yet another Templesmith-inspired artist, but upon deeper inspection, the art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta is really kind of amazing.  It's really outside the box of what's usually found at Marvel, like something you'd more likely find in one of their Strange Tales anthologies: completely unique, and perfectly suited for this story.  Credit also has to be given to Clayton Crain on colors, which really complete the cool look on the pencils with its too-pink skin tone on Emma Frost and carefully-colored white on Dr. Nemesis's suit.  I love little things, like Walta's cartoony expression on Wolverine's face, Colossus's frame as he carries the vampire into the medical lab, the look of the hulking vampire and how it crushes a girl's skull with a massive hand.  And this comic is funny at times too.  The banter between Emma Frost and Dr. Nemesis is amazing, each trying to outdo the other on insulting each other.  The infected humans that the doctors try to protect keep having fits of "sacrifice yourselves to the dark lord" and other such possession nonsense, like ticks, but often it's pretty amusing.  And Nemesis just muttering to himself after each encounter with Emma, wanting nothing more than to not give her a shred of satisfaction.  It's a great contrast to the horror elements of the tale, and it all serves to produce a really solid comic.

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