(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by Christopher Hastings
Artwork by Jacopo Camagni
Cory Artwork by Matt Milla
I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the first issue of this mini-series that I requested to review #2 and after reading it, boy am I sorry I did. It seems that everything I liked so much about the first issue has dissipated and what remains is an inconsistent story with awkward looking art that at times borders on amateurish try-out level pages. Christopher Hastings’ narrative has become so mired in dangling plot threads that the very premise upon which this story is constructed has now, in just two issues, become convoluted and unclear. The storyline meanders along reaching various points where it progresses in stammering uneven jumps almost as if Hastings expects us to know what he was thinking when he wrote this. The momentum and promise of the first issue are not present here; in fact this issue is so disjointed and imbalanced that I felt like it was not even connected to the first issue except for some of the characters. Longshot has proven problematic for even the best writers at times, Peter David and Ann Nocenti being the exceptions. As a part of the X-Men, Longshot never quite emerged as a big player, the promise of his own book after the nominal success of the Arthur Adams / Ann Nocenti mini-series never translated to enough interest to bring the once considered monthly series to fruition. So for a long time the character was relegated to languish with a host of other less than stellar team mates on the supporting cast where he stayed until Peter David drafted him to be a member of his X-Factor. David didn’t use the character as a flashy, leather-clad rocker instead he utilized him as part of a team of mutant detectives to wonderful effect; finally it seemed Longshot had found his place in the 616. However comic books are cyclical and it seems that Marvel has decided to try to find a new home for Longshot. He has a slew of minis, one shots, guest appearances, team-ups and team memberships to his credit but he remains something of an enigma in the Marvel echelon of characters, he’s not a mutant but an inter-dimensional being which is perhaps why he never really seems to gel with the other X-Men characters, but he has so many redeeming qualities and such potential to be a great character. He just hasn’t been placed in the right hands of late. That brings us to this current attempt to utilize the charms and abilities of Longshot.
This issue seems to get in its own way; it presents a quagmire more than a progression. The completely unexplained and incongruous appearance of Deadpool, Scarlet Witch and Ghost Rider as some sort of genies summoned by Doctor Strange or Longshot himself, who the heck knows, was just one of many frustrating and confusing elements that added to the overall amalgamation of nonsensical flights of fancy being passed off as a plot. To further bog the non-existent narrative down with needless gimmicks, Hastings throws in a completely gratuitous Thor cameo and an utterly head-scratch inducing Hulk appearance. This issue has it all, in a very bad way.
Camagni’s art is passable at times but throughout most of this issue it feels like he is in over his head. His page design and use of panel transition is shaky at best, sometimes his storytelling is so ambiguous that the action is almost impossible to follow. Character design is a major problem for Camagni as he misses the mark on most of the familiar characters used here doing his best work on a brief Deadpool appearance and a fairly solid take on Doctor Strange. His revamping of Longshot’s locks gives the character an 80’s punk rock look that is at odds with his personality. Anatomy and composition are not Camagni’s strength either; most of his characters appear awkward with appendages too long for their bodies. This can work for some artists who can incorporate a cartoony sensibility with a solid understanding of and deep appreciation for anatomy and how the human body works and moves but Camagni needs more practice before he gets to that point. I don’t doubt that he has the chops and the drive to get there but he’s not there yet. Unfortunately this issue just spot-lighted all that was wrong with his art in both composition and execution.
Overall this issue felt rushed and slapped together, unfortunately it comes on the heels of a decent first issue making me think that it’s all downhill from here. Longshot has the charisma and personality to carry his own book but he needs to be written with humor, wit and heart, a writer like Gerry Duggan or Nick Spencer could be just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully Marvel will keep searching for the right creative team to give this character the chance at the readership he deserves. Longshot may save the Marvel Universe but will Marvel save Longshot from ill-conceived mini-series and pointless one shots? That remains to be seen. So until next time, see you at the comic book store. (2.5/5)
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629