Sometimes a story has so much ambition that it is unable to see where it falls short. Unfortunately, Way of X #3 not only falls short, but so entirely misses the mark that it may have derailed an otherwise promising concept.
This next chapter in the Hellfire Gala event was one of the most anticipated, but it’s so short-sighted that it fails entirely. It comes from Si Spurrier, Bob Quinn, Java Tartaglia, and Clayton Cowles.
Nightcrawler and Legion continue their mission to find the Patchwork Man. The Gala complicates things, but a full team is gathered as a result.
I’ll get this out of the way first — where this issue does not fall short is in the art. Though Quinn is not quite as inventive as he was in past issues, the art doesn’t disappoint. It centers the action on the characters, and makes sure we can see how they’re thinking and feeling no matter what is happening. Tartaglia’s colors are very bright, which helps create a very unsettling feeling as the terror of the situation escalates.
At the same time, the issue completely falls flat with its story. First of all, the plot is fine. Kurt trying to learn more about one of Krakoa’s subcultures while Legion tries to track down the Patchwork Man, while fairly standard, is interesting. But that’s where the good things to say stop.
Spurrier, unfortunately, writes Kurt Wagner — one of the most sexually open and understanding characters in X-canon — with extremely puritanical attitudes about sex and intimacy. It’s so far out of character, especially for the elf who has multiple times been shown on panel wearing nothing but a stuffed animal version of himself. It’s distracting and pulled me completely out of the story whenever Kurt was on the page. The story still could have gotten to the same place with some care put into how this very faithful, yet very progressive man would feel about these things.
The story also features a scene of Legion using the first instance of intimacy between a young queer couple as a way to bait his foe. There’s no way to hide how frustrating this is, at best, to see intimacy between any two characters used this way. But it’s compounded by that the fact that Loa and Mercury are barely adults — they’re young women and they’re queer. It pushes it from frustrating to wrong. It’s offensive and should never have happened. Knowing that others have leveled this criticism at Spurrier in the last week makes me hope that he takes it to heart and strives to be better in the near future.
This doesn’t change that it happened though, and a story and editorial group this progressive needs to be better in the near future.
Way of X #3 is available now from Marvel Comics.