Giant-Size X-Statix #1 Review

by Charles Martin on July 10, 2019

Giant-Size X-Statix #1 Review
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Michael "Doc" Allred
Colourist: Laura Allred
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Marvel Comics

In 2001, Peter Milligan and Michael & Laura Allred unleashed something new when they hijacked X-Force and turned it into a cutting-edge satire of superhero comics and contemporary culture. 

A few years later, Mitch Hurwitz launched Arrested Development on TV. The sitcom and the comic developed a lot of similar traits: unapologetic cleverness, acid wit, endearing characterization, and eerily-prescient social commentary.

Like Arrested Development, X-Force and X-Statix grew more applicable over time. The comics skewered the weaknesses of 21st-century society in a way that's as accurate today as when they were published. They take aim at faults we have totally failed to fix in the last 10+ years.

Arrested Development got resurrected. Now it's X-Statix's turn. Will it make the transition to the age of Netflix and social media with a little more grace and relevance?

The answer to that question is uncertain thanks to the best bad news imaginable: Giant-Size X-Statix #1 isn't a self-contained one-shot. It's just the start of a bigger story, a set-up for "The X-Cellent," a new series (ongoing? We can hope!) from the same creative team coming in 2020.

That's right, this comic takes its cue from the most momentous, giant-size-iest Giant-Size Marvel book of all: It's a reboot/relaunch/new roster intro, just like Giant-Size X-Men #1.

Doop and Dead Girl are scrambling to rebuild the X-Statix before somebody sinister can beat them to the punch. That means calling in a few old faces - Guy "Mr. Sensitive/Orphan" Smith and Myles "Vivisector" Alfred. But the rest of the team is indubitably dead; where are they gonna find replacements?

Secret kids! Including the one we already know about: Edie "U-Go Girl" Sawyer's daughter Katie, hidden from her own heritage in a Jack Nicholson-type arrangement that Dead Girl blasts wide open for her in the book's first scene.

She's joined by another secret by-blow and a secret clone. 

Yes, X-Statix is back. With a roster that's 50% "legacy" characters, each with a more ridiculous origin than the last. What's that I smell on the coming wind? Could it be trenchant commentary on current Marvel trends? 

On the visual front, Michael and Laura Allred have only gotten better in the years since the end of the last volume. Their characters still have that Kirby-esque simplicity - and the layouts, that Kirby-esque flair for dramatic posing - that make the X-Statix instantly recognizable.

Michael Allred has incorporated greater amounts of facial detail without compromising his iconic style. This gives his characters a wider range of expression, and this issue gets full use out of it. Dead Girl's face, in particular, is a constant delight.

Laura Allred's colours are a masterclass in deceptive simplicity. Her palette choices replicate the high-contrast look of the Silver Age, but she uses nuanced shading to deliver a level of depth and realism that simply wouldn't be possible back in the four-colour days. 

Even setting aside the characters and content, Giant-Size X-Statix #1 is a comic worth celebrating because it reunites one of the industry's all-time great creative teams. Mr. Milligan and the Allreds work on a mind-meld level that allows them to pass prime storytelling duties back and forth between the words and art without fear of fumbling. The revelation that Katie's conscious teleportation powers are stuck on one personally-meaningful destination, for instance, is delivered entirely in the art. 

(But there are some sticky exceptions to that teleport rule that demand closer examination.)

When it comes to characterization and plot, there are lots of unanswered questions thanks to the script's shameless "chapter one" structure. But there's more than enough wit and heart on display to assure me that I'll want to read the next chapters. Just as before, the X-Statix team is filling up with people who face all-too-absurd superhero challenges with all-too-human weaknesses. 

And this initial installment does have the space to reveal that the new antagonist team - rich with X-Statix connections of their own - is in for the same delightfully demented treatment. 

Milligan, Allred, and Allred stick the X-Statix right back where they should be: At the top of the superhero satire game. Awful characters in absurd and deadly situations, deliciously distinctive art, and a sneaky serving of empathy come together to assure us this team is just as terribly brilliant as ever. It will be six months or more before we get another chapter in their story; Giant-Size X-Statix #1 tells us it'll be worth the wait.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
I'm certain the creators are aware that their new Phatty - fat-manipulation powers, body positivity, and plus-sized modelling - is tromping all over the toes of the GLA's Big Bertha. Since this is X-Statix, I think the odds of that being addressed directly on-page, possibly by Bertha herself, are very good.