A Past Most Sinister: Reviewing ‘Immortal X-Men’ #8

As Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Good thing for the Marvel Universe that their version of Holmes was very much a real person, better known to most as the shape-shifting mutant Mystique, because there is a sinister mystery brewing that has deep connections to the past and future of all mutantkind. 

It will always be worth repeating, Immortal X-Men is not only one of the best X-Men series around but just one of the best comic book series period. Through the previous seven issues, and this one as well, Kieron Gillen has been able to weave a cohesive tale that allows for a different narrator in each issue that explores backstories and ties in various realms of continuity all in service to the overall plot that becomes more and more centered around Mister Sinister. And wouldn’t you know, there happens to be a big Sinister-related event, Sins of Sinister, set to hit this book and a few others in early 2023. 

What I loved about this issue, besides far more awesome Destiny and Mystique content especially set in the past, is how it’s entirely flashback compared to the previous issues yet still very much ties into and informs the present-day plotline. It’s a Mystique and Destiny issue but it’s also a Sinister origin/spotlight as well. I mean hell right off the bat the opening pages from 1943 are able to tie together silver age continuity of the Xaviers being connected to Alamogordo with ’90s continuity that expanded upon that information with the late 2000’s era X-Men Legacy stuff from Mike Carey where it was explained how Sinister used those Alamogordo days to implant his psyche in others in the event of his death. All of it is presented in a couple of scenes without it feeling weighty or for anyone needing to go hunt those stories down (though the Legacy stuff for sure is wild and should be checked out). 

Overall it’s the same with the whole issue. Gillen is one of those writers that has mastered being able to drop in bits of canon/continuity all over like a spice that enhances the meal without ever taking away from or overpowering. Marvel has never shied away from incorporating well-known things from popular culture into their universe where they can, such as Dracula or Doctor Frankenstein and his monster as well as Sherlock Holmes (though they never overtly state the name here). So seeing Gillen find a way to sort of slide the story of Jekyll and Hyde into that of Sinister/Nathaniel Essex in the past is really great and works so smoothly. Of course, this would be something that would happen with Sinister after his change at the hands of Apocalypse in the past, 

After spending the past few issues as part of the summer epic event A.X.E: Judgement Day, this could have been a quieter issue but instead, it’s pretty chock full of big stuff and is very important to what comes next. Sure we get a lot of fun with Mystique & Destiny, their little snarky loving back and forth leading to Mystique having to find her own way in the case was perfect, but it’s wrapped around the core of what Gillen and others have been building for quite some time. In fact, this might be one of the most important issues in the grand scheme of things with the Sinister reveal at the end. 

This issue brings about the return of Michele Bendini to team up with David Curiel again as they take us on this flashback adventure. Bendini’s artwork is great for this issue because of the energy that is presented on the pages, and just doing such a great job at showcasing emotion/body language as well as a flowing kinetic action style. One thing I especially loved is some of the paneling choices on display. A perfect example is the page above that features Mystique sneaking onto the base and taking on the form of a blonde woman with the soldier reveal as a tiny rectangle she’s posed over with all the action shots being slanted angle panels at the bottom. It just looks so cool and reads easily, letting the effect and moments wash over us with more power. 

There is a smooth but also slightly rough quality within Bandini’s artwork, with the former applying to the people and the latter coming up more with the backgrounds with detail within them. Curiel’s colors follow that same path with a vivid and bright smoothness to them but plenty of rough looming shadows to really deepen the world. Once we’re in the Victorian era things take on a really drab and in some cases very brown color (especially in 221B Baker Street) that contrasts wonderfully with the very bright vivid almost out-of-place blue color for Mystique when she’s in her real form, reminding us how she stands out especially compared to when she puts on the Holmes guise out in public. 

Great lettering not only places all the words on the page in ways that flow and make sense but also has a powerful energy to it and does lots of little things that might go unnoticed but add so much to what is happening. Clayton Cowles does all of that every single time he works on a story. One of those so-called little things is here on the page where Mystique becomes the security guard and sees her reflection, all of the speech bubble tails are interrupted by the grooves in the reflective surface rather than just appearing over the material. It makes it seem like her speech is also being reflected somewhat, and that’s just cool stuff. 

Can’t forget just how well each character’s personality shines through their dialogue, and for Mystique in the captions too, just with little flares that emphasize words or moments differently. Also, love the variety and volume of colorful unique SFX that take up the moment and bring the sound of the issue right to life. 

Immortal X-Men #8 is now available from Marvel Comics. 

As Sherlock Holmes said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be theCOMICONRead More

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