X-Necrosha (one-shot) – Craig Kyle & Chistopher Yost, Zeb Wells, Mike Carey

3 out of 5

Marvel Zombies! Er… except specific to the X-Men!

Even by the time Marvel Zombies had become a thing, it was rather quite tired. Still, didn’t mean there wasn’t fun to be had in seeing Arthur Sudyam’s stream of covers of decimated Marvel characters, and a talented pool of writers having fun eventually turning that into a whole universe. X-Necrosha isn’t that – it’s virus-inflicted / vampyric dead-alivers aren’t flesh seekers, they’re just resurrected; and they’re not mindless, but rather controlled – but it nonetheless was an event that kinda felt tainted with a “haven’t we done this pretty often?” vibe that, to an outsider, made it seem like even more of a bandwagon event than usual.

And though I appreciate the summary blurb on the credits page of this intro issue, firmly entrenching the setup in X-Men lore – it’s not just a simple matter of some random infection, rather a mix of scientific discoveries and techno-organic viruses and etcetera – the general gist does not escape that aforementioned taint. That carries through the majority of the one-shot, written by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost, with Clayton Crain’s dark, digital art, and an X-Force focus: Selene, Hellfire Club black queen, is using vampire Eli Bard and an alien “T-O” virus to bring back dead folk and take revenge on a whole bunch of X-types, plus I guess the Hellfire Club itself. While I’m sure it’s much more complex than that, and led to further complex things, Chapter One of this event is a lot of, natch, vamping, and cutting back and forth to various scenes of Selene or her minions (controlled to her bidding, but still of owning their own consciousnesses) approaching the various battlefronts. It’s all preamble and setup, which is what a one-shot intro should be, but see above: it just ends up feeling like a wave of zombies, and that wave is slooooowlly advancing upon, say, X-Men island Utopia, shown in multiple pages, step-by-step…

It’s not literally that; the pages do jump around to the Club and whatnot, but that’s how it feels: Selene saying some mustache-twirling dialogue, cut to a reaction of somebody all flustered, then back to a Selene-crony, slowly advancing upon victim/s. Art-wise, I haven’t cared much for Crain’s very digital style outside of covers, but this was a good use / application of their style, being a purposefully dark story, with Crain having enhanced his computer-y tendencies with clearer and more emotive character models. Pages do ultimately feel rather sparse, though.

Not a bad setup, per se, just doesn’t necessarily feel any different from a standard issue, or make Selene into an especially compelling victim.

We have two other short lead-ins, here: Binary, by Zeb Wells and artist Ibraim Roberson, going into Wells’ New Mutants; and Mike Carey / Laurence Campbell’s The Foretelling, going into X-Men Legacy.

Covering The Foretelling first, my opinion of Carey is that he’s an excellent writer, but writes rather predictable stories. So ‘Foretelling’ doesn’t have much in the way of surprises, with precog Destiny telling X-Men (-adjacent? I never know what’s going on in the X books) member Blindfold about Selene, but the dialogue exchange is well written, and Laurence Campbell is actually very well suited to this, doing great, moody work on more static scenes of this nature. It’s a fairly disposable connection to Legacy, I’d say, but Carey gives more weight to the tone than Kyle’s / Yost’s portion of the book.

The best bit belongs to Wells and Roberson. Wells uses the resurrection of Cypher to effect a fascinating narrative style, blending binary code with Cypher “interpreting” the language of the world, and his new back-from-death Hellion “partners”. While the use of binary as a replacement for computer-speak – relating Cypher to a machine – isn’t new, Wells (and letterer Cory Petit, supposing they lettered the whole book) present it compellingly; it is the only entry here to focus on the conflict of being controlled, but still having your own will. Granted, that’s not necessarily the purpose of X-Necrosha, but it’s a great “in,” and makes this section feel particular to New Mutants instead of just another preview of zombies attacking certain characters. Roberson’s art similarly finds the right balance, particularly with John Rauch’s carefully bright color tones – we can have daylight and purple costumes in a dark book, and dark storyline, and it doesn’t feel out of place. A highlight of the one-shot.