Writer: Gerry Duggan
Art: C.F. Villa, Matt Milla, VC’s Clayton Cowles, Martin Coccolo, Jesus Aburtov, Jay Bowen, and Tom Muller
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 7th, 2023
When the X-Men’s close friend Broo became the Brood King, he gained the ability to control the savage alien race he was both a part of and so different from. Now he is experiencing his own nightmare scenario – the Brood are killing his friends, and there is nothing he can do to stop it in this week’s X-Men #20 by Gerry Duggan.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the X-Men #20 Review.
X-Men #20 kicks off with Jean and Magik trying to figure out who’s actually in control of the Brood while the rest of the X-Men team attempts to save Corsair, as well as all other inhabitants they can before it’s too late. As for as the excitement goes, X-Men #20 just didn’t provide that same measure of intensity as the opener did last month. Moreover, there is a pretty interesting aspect of Iceman’s abilities that I never “really” knew existed before, however, also came across as a bit perplexing.
Now, I’m not saying this aspect of his ability is not possible BUT I would argue that if this little trick Duggan showcases is true, he does not need cloning or resurrection. Iceman’s ability ultimately has the same premise as Groot but with ice. Now, I don’t think this is necessarily “bad” for the character. I actually think it’s pretty intriguing. Plus, Duggan has been giving Iceman more airtime as of late. Nevertheless, I’ve never been a big fan of introducing new power sets without explanations just to suit the story needs or to get the writer out of a corner they were painted into.
So, can anyone remember seeing Iceman do this little trick before? Personally, I’m pretty confident he’s made mini-clones of himself before and has controlled them using his subconscious. However, I feel like there is a disconnect between those clones and the “real” Bobby. Heck, even Multiple Man can’t necessarily do that. The other multiples can live their own lives if need be but it’s the main one that’s the most important. If the main one dies, that’s bad news for the rest. So, would it be the same premise as Iceman? And they left the real one behind.
Jumping to Forge and Monet, which in my opinion was the best aspect of the story last month, Duggan skims over their adventure and wastes page count talking about things that happened in their story off-panel. This was very upsetting. As someone who felt in X-Men #19 that this story beat was the strongest, we get little to know answers, explanations, and adventures from these two. If you’re lucky, we get a page related to this story in X-Men #20.
Nevertheless, Duggan provides some creative answers as to how the Brood is running roughshod through the universe. But, the kicker is why! Now, many may not like the reason why, however, I absolutely love it because it establishes some strong storytelling by Duggan. It digs down deep and travels back to X-Men #4 for this setup. It’s this type of storytelling that shows just how well-planned and organized his script is. Moreover, he not only digs down deep into past villains in his own run but he also throws a wicked curveball to end X-Men #20 that fits so well but is totally unexpected. It’s these minor plot threads that establish the amount of preparation and research Duggan has put forth into this run making X-Men #20 worth every penny.
Stefano Caselli’s action sequences were a bit weak in this month’s adventure merely because he went big with large-scaping panels and designs which made the characters and action seem smaller and less detailed. Nevertheless, he made up for it with his closeup panel shots of the teams’ facial expressions and conversations. For example, I loved Magik’s look as she talked to Broo and Iceman’s closeup tangle with a Specific Brood in mid-fight. Caselli is great when he gets close because he adds so much detail to a character and makes them so much more authentic.
Nevertheless, the introduction of the villain was a bit lacking due to the darkness of the color choices. They were just too opaque and took away from the detail that Caselli normally provides. But again, when allowed to frame in a good face shot, Caselli and this art crew nail every last facial expression well adding the emotion required to give this story the intensity it deserves.
X-Men #20 focuses more on the Jean and Magik angle than anything else, which at first glance may seem a bit deflating. These two were going to talk to Broo. So, how could that be exciting? Well, it’s in this story beat that we discover the villain behind the curtain of this Brood attack and it won’t be anyone you’d expect. Plus, while on the topic of unexpected plot threads, the cliffhanger also provided X-Men #20 with even more clever twists and amazement. And for a story that began with this reviewer questioning where Duggan was choosing to spend most of his time, I’d have to admit that this week’s tale ended very strongly.
Additionally, I just need to continue to point out how creatively in-depth Duggan’s story has been. He’s juggling multiple storylines well, reaching back strategically to past events many readers probably seemed as throwaway stories, and slyly slid in new plot threads that fans will never see coming but make total sense. Readers, the planning is on point. And anyone who reads X-Men #20 can see that Duggan writes like he’s playing an intense game of chess thinking 10 moves ahead, which this fan appreciates. What an outstanding job by Duggan and this entire creative team to continue to bring some clever twists and reveals that will keep fans paying attention to every nook and cranky he offers from every X-Men story to date.