Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
The Devil’s Reign event has reached the X-Men. As someone with little knowledge of modern X-Men, I can’t comment on their Treehouse in Seneca Gardens or Cyclop’s low-effort disguise. But it’s fun to see the stylishly rendered Jean Grey, X-23, Rogue and co. face off against a dapper John Walker and Wilson Fisk’s Thunderbolts, however briefly.
Action isn’t the focus of this opening installment, however. Rather, it’s the story. The issue begins with an extended flashback to a time when Fisk employed two of the world’s deadliest and most dissimilar assassins: Emma Frost and Elektra Natchios. At one point, the former describes the latter to one of Fisk’s targets in whimsical, chilling fashion: “You see, I’m the good witch…and somewhere out there right now is the bad witch. I solve problems with a gentle whisper. The bad witch doesn’t even make a peep…when she waves her magic wands around. Pray you never see the bad witch…because that means you’re dead.”
The monologue is delivered over simple, dread-inducing panels depicting Elektra as she leaves a hit. Her departure does not go unnoticed: a young girl across the alley spots Elektra, who sees the girl but, in keeping with her recent characterization, leaves the loose end. A rare act of compassion from the professional, and one that appears to have looped back around to bite her, and Emma.
In the present, Emma Frost undermines Fisk’s efforts to evict the X-Men from New York through a contact at the United Nations. The X-Men receive diplomatic immunity. But Fisk, none too pleased, has an ace up his sleeve. Fisk knows the identity of the young girl who can finger Elektra for murder. Based on FIsk’s closing words, it’s implied Frost could also serve time for her role in the job.
As someone who has no idea if this Elektra/Frost partnership actually existed years ago, I’m hopeful we’ll see more flashbacks. Elektra and Emma in their more villainous days is a very interesting pair. While a modern team-up against Fisk could be in the cards, it’s possible Elektra plays only a minor role. She is currently involved in her own mini, plus the main Devil’s Reign book.
In terms of art, I’m waiting for Devil’s Reign to drop the ball. But damn if these books aren’t all just gorgeous. A page one Wilson Fisk, spattered in blood, is particularly striking. The arterial spray that signals Elektra’s kill is vivid and organic. Designs for Elektra and Frost consist of rakish lines and character-defining colors. Both sport shrewd, deadly eyes. It’s great when one creative handles the art, but its especially impressive when both lines and colors are top-class.
While the X-Men play a relatively minor role in the issue, their scenes are the most bombastic from a visual perspective, particularly when the Thunderbolts show up. It will be interesting to see how much the team contributes to the rest of the story, or if the focus will shift entirely to Emma. We’ll see in Devil’s Reign: X-Men #2.
Not too much transpires, but Devil's Reign: X-Men is beautiful and sets up Emma Frost, along with Elektra, as a key target for Mayor Wilson Fisk.