The X-Men scramble to ward off a potential resurrection of Arkea Prime only to discover their worst fears coming true.
The new Sisterhood is already one step ahead with the meteorite that carried Arkea to Earth now in their possession.
Escalation is the issue’s theme with Sabra and Gabriel Shepherd joining the X-Men, Jubilee and Karima Shapandar using their espionage skills to lock onto Ana Cortes’ position, and Rachel Grey interrogating her former boyfriend John Sublime.
Sublime feels Arkea come back online, and the effects are devastating. After possessing Reiko, Arkea gives power to Cortes, Typhoid Mary, and the Enchantress who has been freed from Odin’s imprisonment.
Monet is the first on the scene, and she proves no match for the freed Enchantress. Back at the X-Men’s base, Karima begins to show signs she’s infected as Arkea’s swath awakens underground Sentinels heading out to target mutants the world over.
X-Men #9 is a gigantic shift away from the deliberately paced norm. The current story arc began slowly, introducing new characters bit by bit as Ana Cortes — or Yuriko, or Lady Deathstrike — and friends went about trying to infiltrate the X-Men mansion. In a way, it mirrored the first story arc that put the women of X-Men together into one strike unit. Wood has now created a team powerful enough to take on the X-Men without seeming like a bunch of mismatched chumps. Putting Arkea onto the team goes along the lines of chess when a pawn finally reaches the end of the board, and a queen comes into play.
Last issue’s events turn into breakthroughs for a high-impact action piece that puts the X-Men in top gear as the threat takes form. The urgency reaches a pinnacle for the series as the Sisterhood gets what they’re looking for: power. And along with power, the team gains validation.
Brian Wood’s scripts are sharp, and the plot feels like an international thriller with quick cuts to set pieces at the Jean Grey School, Budapest, an undisclosed location, and Dubai where the battle takes place. Time moves forward and backwards, but it never gets confusing due to Wood’s expert plotting.
Each of the panels pushes the story forward, and the moment Sublime realizes Arkea is back, the issue hits overdrive. The last page with a sea floor teeming with Sentinels ups the ante even more, and I’m hoping issue #10 doesn’t skimp on the action — the first demise of Arkea in the first story arc and the subduing of Monet this issue feel a little anti-climactic.
Terry Dodson takes over as lone penciler this issue, and it all feels much more cohesive. Dodson is great at creating kinetic characters, and there’s a lot of body language in these panels that propels the story forward on a visual level. The issue has a lot of fine panels — various panels of Monet’s flight path through the Sisterhood’s tower, Sublime’s reaction towards Arkea’s awakening, Karima’s infection, and the Enchantress’ seeing what kind of damage could be done — and it’s perhaps the the best issue so far in art and writing.
Credit also goes to inker Rachel Dodson for polished inks and to Jason Keith, Nolan Woodard and Andres Jose Mossa for the solid colors. From the darks of the shadows to the highlights of the Enchantress’ hair, the creative team has produced an issue that’s high grade.
There are three more issues in the current story arc, and things could get much more dangerous for the X-Men as well as the Sisterhood. Arkea is a force to be reckoned with, and the potential teaming of two more X-Men enemies into the Sisterhood’s fold could make things even more daunting for our beloved team.
All of that character development in the past few issues is paying off, and there’s momentum here. Wood has taken the less traveled course, and of all the X-Books this month, this one gets the award for best action and cliffhanger.
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