MODOK might be one of the underestimated villains in Marvel Comics lore- both in-universe and out. X-Men #8 just proves how potentially terrifying he is.
I love a good character revamp. On the surface this issue is just that for a character who’s turned into a joke. But on a deeper level, one of the team’s stars also gets a much needed spotlight and some much needed development. It comes from Gerry Duggan, Javier Pina, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles.
MODOK has taken a cruise ship hostage. He doesn’t want money or power though- he just wants to watch the experiment he’s started on the ship play out. The guests’ only hope lies with the X-Men.
MODOK is absolutely terrifying here, and I like that. He’s usually reduced to a shrill joke of a character. I love mad scientists, especially when we see AIM go full amoral science. Duggan writes that extremely well- MODOK isn’t just a shrieking giant head to punch. He’s cold, calculating and doesn’t care who he’s hurt, and that makes him probably the scariest and most effective he’s been in a long time.
Better than that, Duggan progresses the long simmering Synch subplots. The issue transforms the mystery of Ben Urich’s mind-wipe into the struggle of a young man who was forced to grow up too quickly. Everett Thomas is a character that’s lacked direction for much of his existence, and this issue cements his role within the team and likely X-Men’s canon. Although, I did mentally scream in frustration at an ableist joke that Synch made mid-issue that Duggan knows better than to write.
I have mixed feelings about Pina’s art, and it’s not because of its quality. It looks phenomenal- he has a great sense of composition, and his characters have a lot of personality. When paired with Gracia, he does some stunning pages (though one panel in particular of Wolverine made me laugh, and not for the intent of the moment). The scene in MODOK’s mindscape was simply stunning.
My biggest problem though was how similar to Larraz he is. I would love to see Pina doing this on his own terms, in his own style, instead of a style that hews so closely to Larraz. It’s good, even great, but it’s glaring.
So in all, a great issue with some glaring issues. But the improvement is a good thing.
X-Men #8 is available now from Marvel Comics.
Overall this is a great issue- a strong story and fantastic art. However, there are a few weird and potentially offensive moments, and a strange series of stylistic choices in the art.