Mystique: Dead Drop Gorgeous

Brain K. Vaughan, Author, Jorge Lucas, Illustrator . Marvel $14.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7851-1240-2

Writer Vaughan (Y: The Last Man ) deftly straddles the line between superhero story and spy thriller with this series. Bad-girl shape-shifter Mystique, who can look and sound like anyone, is forced into working for X-Men leader Professor Charles Xavier (her former enemy), in exchange for protection from the many governments and other groups that want her dead. Mystique serves as an agent for Xavier, carrying out missions with which he cannot be associated should they come to light. Vaughan stresses how little anyone trusts Mystique, and how little she trusts anyone else in return. He enlivens the basic premise with sharp dialogue, smart characterizations and innovative uses for a shape-shifter's powers (e.g., taking the form of a child to force soldiers into hesitating during a crucial firefight, or creating a pouch behind her stomach to smuggle illicit firearms through airport security). Mystique's handlers come in the form of longtime X-Man Forge, who can build anything, and tiny tough guy Shortpack, a six-inch-tall telepath who provides witty banter. Lucas's art is clean, clear and nicely depicts subtle emotions, which is handy, since Vaughan packs this thriller with dramatic tension. Don't let the pinup-worthy cover fool you: Mystique is a smart, engaging piece of espionage fiction that shows that the superhero story isn't dead yet. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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