X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – Storm & Gambit #1
The vampiric story arc Curse of the Mutants picks up from X-Men #2 with this one-shot. Usually, these stand-alone books spun out from the main story arc are self-contained stories not required to advance the story. This issue is unusual in that it is a one-shot but is also directly part of the main story and would likely have been a numbered chapter had the series utilized them. Northstar appears as a regular member of the X-Men, having joined up in Uncanny X-Men #508.
Cyclops’ incredulous idea to enlist Dracula’s aid in fighting the vampire threat in San Francisco requires that he be resurrected. As previously mentioned, this plan consists of obtaining Dracula’s body and re-attaching it to his severed head, currently being held undersea by Atlantean vampires. Don’t bother checking the date of this post – it’s not April Fool’s Day – this is really the plan. Despite the bizarre set-up, writer Chuck Kim does a superb job telling a layered and entertaining tale of how the X-Men obtain Dracula’s body, with Northstar playing a key role.
During a flashback scene that takes place at Utopia, the X-Men’s new island headquarters, Northstar can be seen in the background seated at a conference table. Emma Frost makes a frustrated reference to a recent and undepicted encounter with vampires during which Northstar speed-staked them all before she could read their minds. The details of this off-panel encounter are unrevealed to the reader, except for the outcome – a hysterical shot of Emma pulling back her top to reveal tan lines caused by Dazzler’s UV light powers. Dazzler is unable to use her powers to kill vampires with sunlight because of refractive medallions that protect them (as revealed in the Death of Dracula #1 One-Shot, not an Alpha Flight appearance).
Storm and Gambit are able to take down a shield surrounding the vampire fortress island where Dracula’s body is being kept, allowing Magik to teleport in a team of X-Men consisting of Emma Frost, Colossus, Wolverine, Angel, Psylocke, Dazzler and Northstar in a full page splash. It’s nice to see Jean-Paul among some of the heaviest hitters on the X-Men. In another scene, Northstar can be seen as Gambit calmly walks by through nine Watchmenian panels of X-Men/vampire battle scrum to clock an unnamed vampire woman in red.
Northstar and Dazzler handily win the battle in a two-page sequence where Northstar “fwips” around snatching the refractive medallions off the necks of their vampire opponents. This is exactly how Northstar, a speedster, ought to be written in a battle sequence, so good job, Chuck Kim! The unprotected vampires are then easily exposed for Dazzler to sunlight-blast them to ashes. Northstar then utters the obligatory Twilight jab, “Go Team Jacob.” It was going to happen at some point, folks!
This Northstar/Dazzler team-up is now the fourth time we’ve seen them together – arresting a bad guy in San Francisco, at Nightcrawler’s funeral, as Dark Dazzler and Dark Northstar in Limbo and again here. This pairing seems to be working out quite nicely for him and is generating some nice volume for the Alpha Flight collection!
Chris Bachalo continues to draw Northstar in a similar fashion to how we saw him in the Supernovas arc in X-Men (in 2007), wearing Aurora’s costume (starburst on the left side) and with white wrappings on his arms. Unlike his previous version, he’s got black wrappings for boots now instead of white, and lacks the “X” that ought to be on his chest. And, most unfortunately, he’s drawn with rounded ears. It’s a shame he missed this detail because this issue is possibly Bachalo’s best single work, marred from what otherwise would be a full five stars by this flaw. Another note about the art – an inexplicable cavalcade of seven inkers and two colorists made for several unnerving transitions among various portions of the book, including at least two pages inked so differently from the rest in a blurry crayon style as to appear misprinted.
Note: there is a variant cover by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townsend
|X-Men: Curse of the Mutants – Storm & Gambit #1 – Bachalo variant|