X-MEN BLUE #27 by Cullen Bunn, Marcus To, and Rain Beredo
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
Bunn, To, and Beredo are a force to be reckoned with in X-MEN BLUE #27. This issue continues to build the Cry Havok Arc into one of the most successful arcs in the X-MEN BLUE series so far. Polaris and Emma Frost -- two characters who have been neglected in recent years -- are masterfully developed by Bunn while To and Beredo give a needed gravity to the arc with realistic artwork. Even if X-MEN BLUE has not been your favorite series in the past, I urge all X-Men fans to give the series a shot. You won't be disappointed!
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At first, Havok’s Mothervine plan to turn more than half of Earth’s population into mutants didn’t sound too terrible. It still sounded like it was coming straight from the 1960’s “world-dominating” Magneto, but it could’ve been worse. In X-MEN BLUE #27, that seemingly genuine plan becomes so much worse when Polaris discovers the villains’ true intentions: to transform all of the newly created mutants into brainwashed slaves. Writer Cullen Bunn and artists Marcus To and Rain Beredo bring just the right amount of foreboding dread and familial bonding in this week’s issue of X-MEN BLUE.

X-MEN BLUE #27
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Too Many Mutants

The beginning of X-MEN BLUE #27 gives readers a rare glimpse into the father-daughter relationship between Magneto and Polaris. Although their family outing appears civil, it becomes clear that Polaris and her father have some deeper problems when Magneto brings up Havok. He wants Polaris to try and bring back the “real” Havok, but Polaris is hesitant. For evidence, Polaris cites her failed attempts to bring out the best in Magneto.

Back in San Francisco, weeks after Polaris and Magneto’s outing, the Blue team battle the brainwashed Mothervine mutants. After a grisly success, the team takes stock of their situation. Although the Mothervine mutants are violent and dangerous, their actions aren’t their own. To stop the situation from getting any worse, the Blue team decides to take down the “puppet-masters” instead of focusing on taking down the new mutants. They show up at Havok’s hideout but even Polaris fails to defeat her deranged ex-lover. Havok captures them and imprisons them in his villainous headquarters.

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In Madripoor, an army of Mothervine mutants (led by an alternate reality version of the Maurders) quickly overwhelms Magneto. He uses a teleportation disc to escape but his final destination is a mystery.

This issue also checks in on Havok, Emma, and Miss Sinister, who are also having some interpersonal problems. Emma becomes frustrated with Miss Sinister, who seems to be using the Mothervine plan to fuel her own desires — at the expense of Mutantkind. Like a true White Queen, Emma breaks Sinister’s hand after the woman calls her “dear, sweet, Emma.”

X-MEN BLUE #27
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Cold as Diamond

Bunn has slipped in subtle numerous hints concerning Emma’s moral compass in past issues, but with X-MEN BLUE #27, we finally start to see some of her internal dilemmas come to the surface. In past issues, Emma’s been willing to let Havok take the lead and direct the team. But, in X-MEN BLUE #27, she loudly voices her displeasure by providing one of the most entertaining and unexpected moments of the issue: snapping Miss Sinister’s dainty hand like a toothpick.

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After all of the terrible things Miss Sinister has said about mutants in the past, I think most readers will find it hard to shed a tear for the villainess’ disfigured hand. Still, this moment might come across as a little cruel for readers who enjoyed the “changed” Emma Frost who worked alongside Cyclops. However, for me, I think this is a really important moment for Emma. Emma may be a lot of things but she definitely isn’t quiet. Her submissive attitude throughout Havok’s plan was completely out of character. I think Emma snapping Sinister’s hand is her breaking point (no pun intended). Hopefully, in the next issue, we’ll see a truly transformed Emma who doesn’t silently stand by while mutants are made into slaves.

X-MEN BLUE #27
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

How to Build an Arc

The first issue in the “Cry Havok” arc, X-MEN BLUE #23, did not impress me. It included so many different storylines and characters that it became almost too confusing to read.

However, from X-MEN BLUE #23 onward, “Cry Havok” has seriously improved. With every succeeding issue, Bunn tightened the plot and put a stronger focus on a few chosen characters. Polaris, who seemed like a supporting character in X-MEN BLUE #23, is now the leader of her own team and the protagonist of X-MEN BLUE #27. Havok is undeniably the main antagonist of the arc, hence the arc’s title. Because the plot and characters are centralized, Bunn can focus on telling one great story and developing a handful of characters.

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In the future, I’d love to see more arcs like “Cry Havok.” These centralized arcs are also great for new readers who may be unfamiliar with certain aspects of the X-Men. Instead of forcing readers to know about a million plotlines and characters, they only have to know about a few.

Perfect Proportions

Penciller Marcus To does an amazing job in X-MEN BLUE #27, delivering some of the most realistic art the series has seen yet. Not everyone likes realism in comics but I think for this issue it works incredibly well. Polaris and her team are dealing with a serious threat and the realistic artwork helps elevate that fact. Some of To’s best panels are close-ups of the characters, where he can get the most detail into their features. Unlike a lot of artists, To’s facial and anatomical proportions are almost always spot-on which is really impressive.

Rain Beredo’s colors work well with To’s pencils, making the artwork even more realistic. His ability to make skin tones look natural in any lighting might be his most glaring strength. Skin tones are difficult and although colorists rarely get credit when they do them right, they always get criticized when they do them wrong because it’s so obvious. The fact that Beredo’s skin tones aren’t obvious is a good sign.

X-MEN BLUE #27Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Final Thoughts on X-MEN BLUE #27

The “Cry Havok” arc has not been perfect, but it has improved so much since the first issue that I’m honestly amazed. X-MEN BLUE #27 is, as many comics are, full of action. But, more than that, the issue has in-depth character development and includes scenes (like Polaris and Magneto’s outing) that have been neglected by so many writers in the past. Although Bunn includes numerous settings, it never becomes confusing because everything is centralized around Mothervine and the Blue team. The creative team of Bunn, To, and Beredo is something to watch out for in the future. I can easily see this team creating a lot of successful arcs in the future.

Make sure to pick up X-MEN BLUE #28 on May 30th for the epic finale to the Cry Havok Arc!

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