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The X-Axis by Paul O'Brien (

Marvel Knights Vol. 2 #1

Marvel are having another stab at MARVEL KNIGHTS, for reasons best known to themselves. The concept of this series always seemed a little pointless - various solo heroes with no motivation to work together do so anyway. And Chuck Dixon's attempt did nothing to suggest that there was any better idea lurking in there. It was a highly generic affair which generally seemed to be floundering around in search of a purpose.

Now the series is being relaunched with writer John Figueroa and artist Alberto Ponticelli. This first issue is certainly more in keeping with the ethos of the Marvel Knights imprint, in that it's not so obviously generic and it's full of rather odd ideas. For the moment, it's running with an impromptu alliance of Daredevil, the Black Widow and the Punisher, and so it doesn't yet have to deal with the problem of why they'd form a recurring team.

It's more promising than the first series was, but still not wholly convincing. At this stage, there's a sense that the villains are weird for the hell of it, rather than that any actual point is lurking in here. Weirdness for its own sake is all well and good, but it tends to wear thin. Still, it's possible that some kind of theme is lurking in all the apparently random material, so I'll give it a few months to see if anything emerges.

This story introduces new villains the Brothers Grace, criminal brothers obsessed with plastic surgery, and with a sidekick whose hobby is mutilating bodies as a supposed work of art. They're obviously supposed to be sinister, but none of them come across as actual characters, so much as a selection of oddball gimmicks. As a result, I'm not all that interested in their story.

Alberto Ponticelli's artwork is a little inconsistent, but the tone is generally appealing, despite the odd awkward panel. He certainly does some nice backgrounds. Nathan Eyring does an excellent job on the colouring, as well, which helps the atmosphere considerably.

This could go either way, depending on whether there's actually a point in here or just a load of gratuitous oddity. Too early to judge, but it's at least trying to avoid the formula that the previous run fell into.

Grade: B