It seems like Marvel just can’t let go of Poisons. The parasitic aliens return in X-MEN BLUE #29 via everyone’s favorite alternate-dimension clawed mutant: Jimmy Hudson. The original Blue team of the Original 5 also make a reappearance after nearly dying during the Poisons invasion of New York City. Writer Cullen Bunn and artists Nathan Stockman and Matt Milla try to bring the concept of Poisons back to life after the strange VENOMIZED miniseries, but their efforts are fruitless.

The past few issues of X-MEN BLUE have been exceptional thanks to a unique plot and a star-studded cast. But X-MEN BLUE #29 brings this series down by including a villain that should have died at the end of VENOMIZED #5. After reading so many supposedly X-Men comics that are actually about Venom and Poisons, I think most readers aren’t going to find the concept of a Poison Jimmy Hudson very novel.

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It’s Hard to Kill a Parasite in X-MEN BLUE #29

Without a whole lot of explanation, X-MEN BLUE #29 finds a half-Poison, half-mutant Jimmy Hudson fighting the newly returned Original 5. Teen Jean is confident that she can “turn off” Jimmy’s Poison side using telepathy, but she severely underestimates Jimmy’s Poison capabilities. Even though Jean was a Poison herself, Jimmy subdues her. The only thing that saves Jean is Jimmy’s human side, which temporarily overpowers the parasite within him.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Too Much Poison

We first saw them way back in January’s X-MEN BLUE ANNUAL #1. They continued to appear throughout the five-part Poison X arc and into the lackluster VENOMIZED miniseries. For a while, Jean became one and then, in VENOMIZED #5, she destroyed hundreds of them (something Jean can sometimes casually do). I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: Poisons. The bizarre little parasites have plagued X-Men comics for months now, and while they seemed a unique idea at first, they quickly became overused.

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By now, I have no idea what Bunn is trying to accomplish by including a Poisoned Jimmy. It seems like he’s trying to surprise readers by reviving the Poisons yet again — just after Jean seemingly defeated them. If that’s the goal, I’m disappointed. To keep series new and fresh, writers have to keep moving their characters forward. Enemies have to change, and basic plot points have to change. In X-MEN BLUE #29, Jean is once again fighting a Poison. Nothing has changed at all. Even Jean herself, who beat hundreds of Poisons in VENOMIZED, finds herself easily defeated by a Poisoned Jimmy. This issue, in some ways, just feels like a retelling of Poison X and VENOMIZED.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Omega’s Always Win

Instead of introducing another “invincible” Poison, I would’ve liked to see Jean release some of that power she showed in VENOMIZED #5. If she killed Poisoned Jimmy, as she killed countless other Poisons, she’d have to deal with some very real repercussions that are barely mentioned in past Poison-centric issues. But, instead of that, Bunn has Jimmy knock Jean unconscious within a few panels.

The issue of Teen Jean’s power set is a common one in X-MEN BLUE and in series before it. Sometimes she’s portrayed as even stronger than her older counterpart (which is kind of ridiculous) but at other times she’s incapable of defeating a single Poison. Jean is a difficult character to write because she is incredibly powerful, which means finding situations where she doesn’t just automatically win aren’t easy. However, what most writers ignore is the fact that Jean’s weaknesses don’t lie in her mutant abilities. If it has to do with telepathy or telekinesis, she’s going to win. This is why the fight between her and Jimmy is unrealistic. Jean’s real weakness is her inability to control. She struggles to control her powers, her emotions, and her team at times.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

It’s All About Control

Jean accidentally killing a Poisoned Jimmy would’ve exposed some of that fragility that we haven’t seen a lot of in X-MEN BLUE. Of course, it would’ve been sad. But I think Jimmy’s death would have accomplished a lot of character growth for Jean and the team. At the very least, it would make them more interesting. Since their arrival in this timeline, the O5 have faced a lot. But forcing them to fight another over-the-top tentacle-slinging Poison makes them seem more like the Power Pack and less like X-Men. Jean and the Blue team need a dose of reality soon.

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Back to the Basics

X-MEN BLUE #29 welcomes yet another new artist: Nathan Stockman. This series and X-MEN GOLD are known for frequently switching artists which can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Since X-MEN BLUE #29 is the first installment in a new arc, new art makes sense. Even though the art in X-MEN BLUE #28 by Marcus To is extremely different than Stockman’s work, I’m not upset about the change. The entire cast of characters has changed so the art should probably change too.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Stockman has a very simplistic style. His facial expressions and backgrounds border on childish in some panels. They frequently remind me of old-school cartoons. Matt Milla’s flat, saturated colors emphasize this. For some stories, including X-MEN BLUE #29, this style works well. With the over-the-top Poisons (which are themselves cartoonish) and teenage X-Men, this issue feels like something that could be aired on a Saturday morning. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to interpretation.

Final Thoughts

After being spoiled with the “Cry Havok” arc, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed with X-MEN BLUE #29. Bunn bringing back the Poisons shows a lack of creativity, which makes me concerned for the future of the series. “Cry Havok” was incredibly creative and had one of the best character lineups I’ve seen in a while. In order to keep readers entertained after “Cry Havok,” the X-MEN BLUE creative team needs to bring in some more original concepts and take a closer look at their characters.

X-MEN BLUE has shown us it has the capability to be the top X-Men title on the market. But, to keep that title, Bunn needs to keep pushing the boundaries instead of playing it safe.

X-MEN BLUE #29 by Cullen Bunn, Nathan Stockman, and Matt Milla
Writer Cullen Bunn and artists Nathan Stockman and Matt Milla bring X-MEN BLUE back to Poison-X with the first installment in "The Search for Jimmy Hudson" arc. For some readers, this may be a good thing. But for others, the Poison plot-point may feel a little abused. After so many arcs and miniseries pitting the X-Men against the Poisons, I think most of us can agree it's time to move on.
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