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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.
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