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X-Men Noir #1 Review

X-Men Noir, by Fred Van Lente and Dennis Calero, is a pretty slight genre piece, but it’s also a pretty entertaining one at that.

The gist of the story is as you might imagine – the X-Men as seen through the view of a typical “noir” story set in the 1940s. It’s actually interesting, now that I think about it, how the 30s and 40s have become the go-to decade for noir when the noir that was being written at the time certainly did not intend to be anything but contemporary fiction. That’s neither here nor there, it is just something that struck me just now.

In any event, the story at hand here is that a young woman (Jean Grey) shows up dead, and the police are not really interested, since she is a member of the “X-Men.”

The chief of detectives (Magnus) is also a bit of a dirty cop, and this flies in the face of his son Peter’s views on life, which are slightly more scholarly. His father wants him to join him in the “Brotherhood,” but Peter is hesitant.

Meanwhile, in a clever bit of casting, the actual Golden Age Marvel hero the Angel is used in the comic as well, as, well, the Angel, also investigating Jean’s death. This takes him to the nightclub owned by Gambit (where Bishop is a bouncer).

Calero’s art at times is excellent, especially in creating a mood, but other times his photo realistic work really grates, particularly when it appears like he is just doing a typical Land-job, using faces where he can get them, not where they best serve a scene. But overall, the art is not a major issue.

The biggest problem with the comic is that it never really goes beyond, well, the X-Men set in a Noir story.

And that’s a cute enough idea, but it’s not much to hang a comic book story on.

So if you’re interested in seeing the X-Men adapted into a noir setting, then boy is this the comic for you, as Fred Van Lente does a very nice job fitting them all in there. Look, there’s ___! Hey look, there’s ____!

But as an actual comic book story, it is certainly not bad – it’s pretty entertaining, really, but if it were not for the whole “hey, it’s Peter Magnus – and look, he’s running away!” then I don’t know if this story would really stand out.

6 Comments

The pulp sential story in the back was awesome though. “Great Darwin’s ghost!”

Yeah, that was cool. Agreed.

the story at hand here is that a young mutant (Jean Grey) shows up dead

There are no mutants or powers in the Noir-verse. She’s just a young woman.

Given the obscurity of the GA Angel and the even greater obscurity of his origin details, I’ve spoken to a heck of a lot of fans who have no idea what’s going on with the prison flashbacks.

I don’t think it is fair to judge the story on just issue #1. It’s the start of a four parter, and I think we need to see more development of the story before saying it is trite. I enjoyed it. i think it could have been paced with a little more excitement, as the book comes off with a little too much exposition. Comics should be closer to movies, which are about what people do, rather than all the talk.

it is interesting how they recast the X-Men, keeping them outsiders but more as a gang, and Professer X was a big surprise (his article about sociopaths was reminiscent of this article in Criminal profiling http://www.criminalprofiling.com/Psychopathy-An-Evolutionary-Perspective_s289.html ). But I can see it turning, in a Noir setting everything is shadows, with lots of red herrings. I know the X-Men will turn out to be the good guys, and the cops the worst of the breed. Also, copying a little from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by ending with a prose piece in the style of the era, “The Sentinels: Part 1 Days of Future Past” piece was a good laugh. I am looking forward to issue #2.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Oooh, no recommended or not recommended….

I don’t think it is fair to judge the story on just issue #1. It’s the start of a four parter, and I think we need to see more development of the story before saying it is trite..

I get what you’re saying, but if they release it serially, it’s totally fair to judge it that way.

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