With each passing issue of Gerry Duggan’s X-Men, it becomes more clear that he has a plan for these characters. He’s been showcasing each team member in standalone stories that highlight what each player brings to the X-Men. This issue, we get some focus on Synch. Duggan is joined by Javier Pina on pencils, Marte Gracia on colors, and Clayton Cowles on letters for this week’s book.
Let’s be realistic here, MODOK is a silly villain. Having said that, Gerry Duggan does give him a sinister plan and shows us how ruthless he can be as an antagonist. MODOK taints the water supply on a cruise ship. This in turn makes the passengers become maniacal killers who attack anyone they see. Duggan does a terrific job of giving us both the diabolical side of MODOK and the silly side. As MODOK’S plan is playing out, Duggan has him eating from the ship’s buffet while people get killed. Duggan also has him yell “For Science” as he kicks a helpless woman.
Team building is something that Duggan has been doing since his first issue. Synch has been attempting to reconnect with Wolverine since their time in the Vault together. Duggan pairs them both up as they search the cruise ship for MODOK. The pair talk about their experiences from a life that Wolverine doesn’t remember. This conversation affects Synch in a way that he simply can’t describe to her. Duggan uses this chat to build a bond on another blossoming relationship. The pairing of Synch and Cyclops is becoming a great bromance in this title. Duggan has had Synch confide in the X-Men’s leader for certain things, and the trend continues this issue.
Javier Pina is filling in for regular artist Pepe Larraz, and he does an amazing job. Pina starts off the issue with a giant page of MODOK. This is a perfectly shaded image that has closeups of microscopic organisms. Pina had the tough task of making ordinary cruise ship goers look dangerous and crazy. Pina does this by giving them longer faces and beady eyes, and it works well. The mind controlled patrons are fierce as they wield weapons with their distorted faces. I can’t honestly say if you’ll see a funnier panel in a comic this year than MODOK eating from the buffet on a cruise ship. Pina draws this panel perfectly. MODOK is hovering over the mashed potatoes as he adds them to his plate with hot dogs. The absurdity of the panel, while MODOK is mid-evil-plan mind you, has to crack a smile as you read the issue.
Marte Gracia’s colors are as great as usual. The dark backgrounds and skies at the beginning of the issue set the tone for the chaos the X-Men are about to walk into. The pink light emitting from MODOK’S head is a constant attention draw on each page. One of the best colored sequences in the book comes when Cyclops enters MODOK’S mind. Gracia uses a lighter color palette for these panels to differentiate from reality. The softer colors work as a good change of pace from Gracia’s normal vibrant style.
The letters by Clayton Cowles are very important for this issue. Since we have a lot of action, like Captain Krakoa punching MODOK, we need a large “SKRABOOM.” When mind controlled guests attack Wolverine and Synch, one yells “DIE DIE DIE.” The letters are large and red to emphasize the tone. These are the little touches that Cowles puts into his work that separate him from others.
X-Men #8 is a great addition to Gerry Duggan’s story for the mutants. This team continues to grow and gel with each passing issue. The writing is strong and gives readers a little bit of everything in regards to character moments. X-Men #8 is an issue that delivers the goods on all fronts.