(by Chris Claremont and Milo Manara. Marvel Comics, 2010.)
Okay, I have no idea where to begin writing a clever introduction to reviewing this head-case of a comic, so let’s just dispense with the beginning, middle, and end business, and I’ll lay out the review in bullet points. These are copied from the notes I made when I first read the book, so some may seem random and nonsensical, like the comic itself.
* The comic is, of course, drawn by famed Italian sex comic artist Milo Manara. It is, to the best of my limited knowledge, the first time he has done original comic art for a mainstream American comic company, or any American comic company that I know of.
* Who the hell is the audience for this book? I think regular X-Men fans prefer their X-Women with more bombastic tits and asses rather than Manara’s waifish mannequin types. And Manara fans would want nudity and the women actually fucking people (or things). Both camps are doomed to disappointment.
* What a hilariously ironic title.
* The plot involves some X-Women losing their powers and then become slaves of some South American dictator or something, blah, blah. I don’t even really remember it, except somehow it reminded me of Mad Max 2.
* I’ve heard people say that, even if you put aside the sex, Manara is a great sequential artist. All the evidence here points to the contrary. He seems very average to poor (i.e. distracted), and once or twice I even noticed characters bounce from place to place in a room without rhyme or reason except to make sure they are posed facing the camera with the right pout.
* For my money, Paolo Serpieri is the better artist by far. But, that said, I’ve never actually made it to the end of a Serpieri comic, because I tend to get, uh, distracted by Druuna’s ass.
* Why didn’t they just get John Severin to draw this thing?
* There is at least one reference to Diff’rent Strokes (?!?!). Oh, no, wait — is this supposed to lead us to think of “stroking it,” a complex association like that reference to the yellow leaves in James Joyce’s “Araby”?
* I haven’t read an X-Men or Chris Claremont comic in a long time, and early on I had trouble following what was going on. Despite the fact that this is Claremont writing, it’s missing his good ol’ standby: “My name is Rogue. I shoot rays out of my ears and can transmute metals into fly paper” every other page. Would have been helpful, you know, of all the times to break with old habits. Throw a brother a bone, would ya, Claremont?
* In my notes, I wrote the words “Down Syndrome” on two separate occasions, not realizing I was repeating myself. So, as you can guess, the impression was frequent and in-your-face. I mean, just look at that cover.
* Manara’s goal is to make every single panel “sexy.” Manara will invent fetishes where they don’t actually exist for every conceivable human activity. Storm feeds the pigs? SEXY. Rogue does the laundry? SEXY. X-Women fall off a cliff? SEXY. Etc.
* As I was reading it, my wife looked over and said, “What is THAT?”
Me: Well, it’s an X-Men comic drawn by this famous Italian sex comic artist who doesn’t normally do this kind of thing.
Wife: Yeah, I was about to say that! Haha!
Me: It’s weird. He’s always posing them in these crazy fetish poses no matter what they’re doing.
Wife: Oh, they’re just having a bit of fun.
… And, well, that was a point I couldn’t argue with. Despite all my above complaints about the craft or intent of the thing, Manara and Claremont are just having a good time here. In fact, I would go even further and suggest that quite cleverly Manara is actually satirizing Claremont’s writing with his art (exposing the sexualized depiction of every activity that X-Women are always made to perform), and Claremont is satirizing Manara (writing mundane situations which he knows Manara will automatically sexualize). In that respect, this comic is comparable only to the Peter Bagge drawn issue of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong which achieved the same remarkable feat.
So, I can’t recommend it, but I recommend it.