X-Men Noir by author Fred Van Lente and Illustrator Dennis Calero
Around the early to mid 2000s Marvel released a line of noir themed comic books. They are largely underwhelming but at this point I’ve basically committed to reading all of them. I started with Daredevil Noir and branched out from there. I think I only have a couple more left and then I can be done with them forever.
Thankfully, these standalone runs are only 4 issues long each. This makes them very easy to get through quickly and then move right on to forgetting about them entirely. I finished this run during a lunch break and that’s pretty much the attention it deserves. Clearly, X-Men Noir is not going to be a strong recommendation from me.
In the series Jean Grey is found murdered and two detectives are assigned to the case. They tie it to the X-Men who are a known criminal syndicate run by Charles Xavier. Xavier is currently in prison so the criminals are behaving on their own.
The police force shows very little interest in solving the murder because they don’t think it’s worth bringing the killer of a criminal to justice. Only one detective shows any initiative and is determined to care about what happened.
It’s worth noting that in the noir books the heroes don’t have any powers. The X-Men are just some group of random outcasts without any larger purpose. It’s difficult to understand what exactly they are in this story. Why are they together? What are their goals? Without being mutants they’re just a random assortment of nobodies.
All signs point to Wolverine being the killer but, of course, it’s not that simple. The story tries to cram as many character cameos as possible into the book and becomes cluttered with references that have no bearing on the story. Also, since they are frequently not named you have to have a pretty solid background in these comic books to get the references. For instance, Gambit is just a guy with cards in his hands. Is that even worth going out of the way to draw? Do we get anything from that image? I don’t think so.
As with the rest of the Marvel Noir books this entry is just boring and ultimately pointless. The premise for this line could have been a lot of fun but it seems that none of the authors really enjoyed working on it. Just slapping some fedoras on some superheroes does not make a story a noir. These books have none of the intrigue or compelling dialogue that make the genre worthwhile.
The ending of X-Men Noir is more bewildering than satisfying and since it has no continuation we’ll never know what the heck the point was. I would definitely recommend skipping this bland comic.
2/5 detectives 🕵🏾🕵🏾
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