Saturday, March 10, 2012

REVIEW - X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back

Issue #1 Cover (also used for the collection)
X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back TPB
(Collects X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back Issues 1-4)
Story: Kathryn Immonen
Art: Sarah Pichelli
Colours: Christina Strain
Covers: Stuart Immonen (with Justin Ponsor for #4)

Pixie, X-23, Armor, Mercury and Blindfold face a new kind of hell: high school! Things get even worse when Pixie's mother shows up on Utopia demanding to see her daughter. Discover the truth about Pixie, including the answer to something even SHE doesn't know: the identity of her father- one of the most dangerous X-Villains ever! Who is he? Here's one hint: HELLFIRE.

Pixie Strikes Back is one of those stories that is, if nothing else, an acquired taste. After my first few reads, I was still left with little idea as to what truly went on in it, but I gave it another shot last night and I went from apathy to almost falling in love with it.

In Pixie Strikes Back, we meet all five main characters in high school. Everything seems to be normal, but the odd strange thing happens. When Cessily points out how bad she looks in the mirror, we begin to see just how abnormal everything is. Reflected in the mirror, the girls all look like their X-Men selves, except for Ruth who maintains her appearance. Whilst this is occurring, Anole and Rockslide are trying to track down the five girls, yet only find Ruth alone in the girl's bathrooms in front of a mirror. At the same time, Psylocke and Nightcrawler come into contact with a woman claiming to be Pixie's true mother, and she refuses to believe they don't know where she is. From then on, it's up to Emma Frost, Nightcrawler and Psylocke to find the girls and to unravel the mystery.
Ouch - I bet Armor's back will hurt in the morning.
The story is as strange as it sounds, and it feels a little weak as portions aren't explained. It feels as if bits of the plot or backgrounding were cut in order to fit it into a four-issue series. I feel a fifth issue would have helped, as it could have been used to fill in some of the blanks and to clarify a few moments (particularly with regards to the events of the fourth issue, but also Blindfold/Ruth's sudden appearance in part of Issue #2). However, any weak moments in the story were made up for by the absolutely brilliant tone set by Kathryn Immonen, as well as the characterisation which is easily on the level of writers like Bryan Q. Miller and Marjorlie Liu. She put in some very touching moments, and some brilliant dialogue ("Pretty kitties go boom!"). Let me sum up the brilliance of Immonen's writing in one way - she manages to make Emma Frost enjoyable.
First page of issue #2 - Mercury, X-23, Armor and Pixie
Sarah Pichelli and Christina Strain did a really good job on the art, the pencils/inks and colours mixing really well to create a very interesting style. It sometimes felt a little unclear in bigger scenes, but largely the scenes are smaller and more intimate. Whilst moments were a little wobbly, both Pichelli and Strain helped bring Immonen's writing to life and added considerably to my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I think Pixie Strikes Back is a noble effort, but a flawed one. If one can look over the weakness of various parts of the story, and the rare moments of weak art (or its unusual style in general), then there's definitely something fun to be had here. It's a chick movie in comic form, it's full of little jokes and humour that may illicit a smile, though I wouldn't think it would really make you laugh out loud. It may take a few reads before it fully 'clicks', but when it does then it goes from an average comic to a potentially-brilliant read and a type of comic that Marvel (and DC) really should do more of.

Rating: One Mercury/Armor Kiss
(Yes, it totally happened. Shut up.)

No comments:

Post a Comment