The new X-Men Jean Grey and Emma Frost issue by Jonathan Hickman that came out last week is definitely a…unique experience. Unlike other comics, this issue was geared more towards showcasing Russell Dauterman’s artwork more so than telling a story. Similar to movies than are more artsy in nature rather than providing a lot of context and telling a story in a way that most people are familiar with.
In theory this sounds like it would be interesting and possibly enjoyable to some since this style has worked in film but unfortunately, it doesn’t work at all in a comic.
The biggest issue plaguing the series is its focus on the art style that really isn’t anything special when compared to DC’s Justice League Dark. Not only is Justice League Dark’s comics rich in story they also have a masterful display of artwork from the team of Martinez Bueno, Raul Fernandez and Adriano Lucas. Each panel perfectly blends into the next to create a mosaic theme that helps the emphasize the narration and set the pacing of the story. The team’s artwork is so masterfully woven into the story that it ould easily pull off telling the story with very little to no dialogue. Now, compare that to Dauterman’s artwork in this X-Men series that is more focused on telling the story through the art rather than the writing.
While it is a common occurrence to have several panels in comics that showcase battles of elements in the story without dialogue, these moments usually don’t go on for very long before dialogue is worked back in. These silent moments work to emphasize an important moment or establish the mood and atmosphere. They serve a purpose and as such do not overstay their welcome. But when the entire comic is like this it can sometimes grow boring and stale.
This was the case for this X-Men comic, majority of the pages were absent of any dialogue and the visuals did not effectively communicate what was going on in the story. The only thing that made it all come together was the final bit of dialogue at the very end that tied everything together. I hope that these types of comics won’t be a continuing thing for Marvel since they are absent of substance and also fail in leaving an impression. When dialogue and art are perfectly combined the overall narrative has more impact and that was what I felt was missing in this series. The panels felt flat and even in what would perhaps be a climatic moment felt rather bland and unappealing. The only positive I could give it is that the lack of dialogue makes for a quick read.