[Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Claremont's X-Men. For more in this series see the toolbar on the right or the labels below.]
The end of Uncanny #227 promised that this issue would introduce the X-Men’s new status quo “down under.” However -- presumably due to Silvestri succumbing to deadline pressure -- we get a fill-in, set in the recent past (set between issues 220 and 221).
Right down to its generic title, “Deadly Games” reads in every way like a rush job. The plot seems rather fussily conceived – a Russian super-soldier turned KGB operative turned CIA asset turned Columbian drug lord? – and a few story details don’t quite gel.
Rick Leonardi and Terry Austin turn in decent work, though I’m reminded of Geoff’s disappointment at seeing the work of Igor Kordey in New X-Men when he wanted and expected more Frank Quitely. Kordey and Leonardi are both talented artists – and each is good at his characteristically messy/ugly style -- but they’re hardly stand-ins for “pop sexy.”
It’s not Claremont’s worst effort. And at a stretch, it could arguably be seen as a continuity patch that – in a vague, tangential way -- explains whatever became of the “Russian super-soldier” plot idea that Claremont introduced on the final page of Uncanny #194. By the same token, Henry Peter Gyrich was written out of the series at around that same time, so “Deadly Games” shows us what he’s been up to as well.
So, what we have here is a reasonably entertaining Wolverine/Dazzler duo story with competent art and entertaining dialogue, and which obliquely caps off a few dangling loose ends from a few years ago.
It’s certainly decent enough on its own terms, but lightweight compared to the intensity of the issues that preceded it – and, for that matter, the one about to follow.