Uncanny X-Men #3 – Review

Uncanny X-Men 003 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Published February 2016

Uncanny X-Men 003 aSynopsis – In their quest to save the mutant healers from the ravages of ‘The Riders’ Magneto has to get his hands dirty.

I am starting to really like this series and that is surprising because I was quite on the fence at first. They have an interesting team that has been pulled together by circumstance rather than by any innate connection between them and that leads to all manner of conflicts.

This is actually quite a dream team up, both in the comic and in the real world. Cullen Bunn is on the cusp of becoming one of Marvels mainstay writers and having an X-team in his hands is a really exciting prospect. On the other hand Greg Land has a terrible reputation, however it has been completely unfounded so far in this series. Gone are the long lingering looks at full frontal female nudity* and in are wide thin panels that focus on the characters faces. However his reputation for ‘copying’ seems deminished in this series as the faces are all character appropriate and very consistent.

This is for me, a perfect anti-hero X-Men series; Magneto doing anything he can to get the job done, a tormented Creed trying to go straight and Psylocke acting as the conscience and heart of the team. Given Elizabeth’s ‘chequered’ past you can understand why having her as the teams conscience makes this quite an entertaining prospect.

What I really appreciate here is the ‘reality’ of what is going on, Magneto is not pulling his punches, he quite literally rips a man in half on panel in this issue. I like it when comics do that and we are not left with the bad guys licking their wounds and running away with the heroes shaking their fists at them as they go. This is the sort of effect that you would get if you put together an arch angel, psychic assassin, master of magnetism and a caged animal into one team; carnage, death and destruction.

This is definitely my favourite X-Men book in print at the moment, although given how few of them there are currently around, that is not as big a compliment as it used to be. I want more of the same and if the epilogue to this issue is followed up on, then it looks like things can only get better.

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

* Obviously not actual nudity, but when they are in skin tight costumes, its merely the colouring that gives us the illusion of clothing…

Uncanny X-Men #2 Review

Uncanny X-Men (2016-) 002-000 b

by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #2

Written by Cullen Bunn with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten and Nolan Woodard

Published January 2016

Uncanny X-Men (2016-) 002-000 aSynopsis – Magneto is starting to regret leaving that healing mutant to die, but his death has revealed a pattern of murders in the community, with Elixir and Triage next in the the firing line.

Uncanny X-Men has always been ‘my’ X-Men. I am not sure entirely why that is (and Astonishing briefly stole the show,) but the team that turns up in this comic always seems to ‘click’ for me. In recent years it has always been the darker, more ‘adult’ team, which may have helped. This new series does not disappoint in this regard and death, destruction and mayhem are certainly close at hand.

Pretty much every character in this series ranks up there as either a long term member, or recent joinee, to my list of favourite X-Men; even Sabertooth has grown on me. In fact as much as I hated AXIS, it did two good things; Superior Iron Man and the non-one dimensional Sabertooth.*

This book is the perfect example of my theory as to why Marvel has improved so much in recent years. They are slowly but surely doing away with the concept of ‘villains’ and have moved everyone onto their own moral scale. In reality no one thinks of themselves as the ‘bad guy’ they are always the hero of their own story and the best book are written with that in mind. It has meant that Magneto and Mystique are not always going to be antagonists and for that matter Cyclops and Captain America are certainly no longer always protagonists. This series brings together one of the more ‘edgy’ teams who are on the slide in terms of their moral standpoint, but that does not mean they are ‘bad’ merely that they will resort to any measures necessary to safeguard the mutant population.

We still are in the dark as to where this series is going, but the writing is fantastic, Greg Lands art appears to be less ‘scripted’ than usual and is so much more engaging for it. There are so many unanswered questions in this story, none more so than how did they all end up together, but also what happened to Angel and just whose side is Mystique really on?

Story – 9/10
Art – 9/10

* Even still, it doesn’t mean that that series was worth any more than as use for emergency toilet paper.

 

 

 

Uncanny X-Men #5 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #5

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Greg Land

Published: March 2012

Issue 5 opens up with the introduction of a new plotline for the title, and it’s one that immediately hooks me in. An anomaly dubbed “tabula rasa” has appeared on the Earth’s surface that seems to have progressed millions of years inside while only a day has passed for the rest of humankind. Inside is a prehistoric paradise, complete with dinosaur-like creatures in what marks a high point for the title’s colouring and artwork.

It’s a beautiful issue from all angles. Colours are odd and vibrant, while characters are expressive and the action exciting. I’ve never been so impressed with Uncanny X-Men’s art than with issue 5.

In terms of the plot, we get some good action before the team splits up into pairs to explore tabula rasa. This allows for some interesting character interaction, especially where it allows Scott to reflect on the schism, which is a particular sore point for him. It does serve its purpose well in highlighting Scott’s more vulnerable side, and his grim determination to do what he feels he must is compelling in a character that is otherwise serious and straightforward. Magneto, too, is ALWAYS engaging when he brings out his Malcolm-X style politics, especially when he does this while allied with the X-Men.

The unfamiliar terrain and physics of tabula rasa also make for a great backdrop. It’s as beautiful as it is bizarre as it is unexpected, and it has all the mystery and danger of a truly alien setting. It’s also filled with crazy beasts that are sure to cause the X-Men trouble in coming issues.

In my estimation, Uncanny X-Men has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few issues. While it was always a decent title, I’ve begun to really anticipate and enjoy future issues as fully as I do some of the other X-Men titles. In terms of “serious” X-Men storylines going on right now, Uncanny X-Men might have just become my favorite.

Uncanny X-Men #4 Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #04

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Brandon Peterson

Published: March 2012

Issue 4 starts out with an eerie flashback that details Sinister’s quest to create his hivemind, which involves the capture and torture of an alien being. The alien’s subsequent journey of survival and loneliness is creepy and gross, and makes for a genuinely unsettling but perfectly sympathetic backstory. The art really sells the Phalanx’s story –there’s zero dialogue for most of it, just the Phalanx’s monologue in text boxes, and so the expressions and body language have to carry the emotional weight. It does so pretty effectively. The monologue itself is evocative enough to match the artwork, and it makes for an engrossing read.

It’s a real tonal shift from the series thus far, because the issue takes place entirely from the point of view of the Phalanx. The X-Men almost come off as the bad guys during the ensuing fight scene, even though they’re completely in the right in trying to take down the apparent threat to humanity. It’s this interesting back-and-forth play on morality that elevates this issue a little above the previous, since Sinister has been replaced by a much more complicated and less cartoonish antagonist.

It’s a very bittersweet issue, and one that offers the reader no easy answers. There are no villains here, no heroes, and no black and white morality. X-Men at its best recognizes the potential for good and evil, pain and love, in all things. Not only that, but it works as a standalone piece. One could pick up this issue and enjoy it without necessarily having read the previous issues, and I can see it intriguing a new reader to go back and check out the previous issues.

Issue #4 is my favourite offering thus far, and it raises my opinion of the title significantly. While I enjoyed it before, I remained mostly emotionally uninvolved. Not so with issue #4. It’s absolutely the best of the series thus far.

Uncanny X-Men #3 Review (Regenesis)

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #3

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Carlos Pacheco

Published: February 2012

Damn, but Sinister is a chatty guy! This is something that the issue actually acknowledges through Cyclops, just before he levels a blast at the guy, which is easily deflected by the blade of his sword. Classic comic book move.

This issue deals mostly with the battle against Sinister, teased at the end of the previous issue, as he continues to monologue to anyone who will listen. This time he starts out by invoking social Darwinism. D’oh! Sinister! Don’t you know that even Darwin thinks social Darwinism is nuts?

He does, again, have some pretty neat and interesting lines: “I am the Sistine chapel of evolution. I painted holy frescoes inside myself” is wonderfully vivid and self-aggrandizing, and the issue is smart enough not to let Sinister’s dialogue get too pretentious by having other characters reply to it sarcastically. He’s still a little over-the-top egotistical for a story like this, in my opinion, but I can’t deny that he’s fun.

Sinistr’s tendency towards the cartoonish doesn’t stop the issue from presenting some genuinely challenging conflicts – and indeed, Sinister contributes greatly to that. It ends on a grim note, but one that speaks to the complexity of the situation. Fear and survival are major themes, and X-men has always been a great platform to explore them. Is Scott justified in using such tactics to ensure the survival of his species? Is it truly the only way? The question of how to deal with prejudice is a hugely relevant one, even (especially) today.

A quick recap of other things that are good about the issue: several different characters get to have some pretty badass moments, the art continues to be colourful and smooth, and the dialogue is above average. Add to that the very competent and thought-provoking conflict and moral dilemmas, and Uncanny X-Men #3 becomes absolutely worth the read.

Uncanny X-Men #2 (Regenesis) Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #2

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Carlos Pacheco

Published: Janruary 2012

The Extinction Team is still in trouble, but when Sinister offers to agree to a ceasefire in what is an obvious trap, more details of Sinister’s plot for – what else – world domination come to light. Uncanny X-Men continues to be tonally opposite to Wolverine’s parallel story, but it certainly knows how to play to its strengths.

The quality of the dialogue – particularly the antagonist’s speech about his backstory – is above average. The text feature several odd turns of phrase (“I am the auto-creating Frankenstein”) that are memorable and eloquent. What is less impressive, however, is the following scene in which Sinister openly admits that his monologue was only to show off, and now, X-men, you will die!

Sinister is arguably a little too self-aware to make that compelling of a villain. He struts around, freely admitting that he is being self-indulgent and egomaniacal. It’s a little too meta in places; it’s odd that he would bother telling them anything for the express purpose of gloating and drawing things out. It’s the sort of thing you know he’s going to regret later, and it makes him seem a little cartoonish at times. He’s fun, but leans towards being over the top.

There are a lot of cool involving Sinister’s lair and his clone army, which are all outfitted in cavalry uniforms to signal their commitment to the hive-mind. Those that aren’t adopt a fancy Victorian look with a black-and-red colour scheme. Each clone has little quirks in hairstyle and dress, and it makes for a visually interesting page.

Still, the concept of the clones being a hive-mind of sorts is an interesting one. It ups the stakes, because the X-men cannot merely defeat the leader – they must defeat the entire army, because Sinister is no longer only one person. It’s a conflict compelling enough to make me eager for issue 3.

Uncanny X-Men #1 (Regenesis) Review

by Lindsay Young, CMRO Contributing Writer

Uncanny X-Men

Issue #1

Written by Kieron Gillen, Art by Frank D’Armata

Published: November 2011

While Wolverine is off opening the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Scott’s team is in Utopia forming its own ‘extinction team.’ Prejudice isn’t going away, he argues – if the X-Men can save humankind from extinction enough times, maybe that will change. That’s his long term plan – his short term priorities involve making sure that humans fear them enough to leave them alone.

Much of the issue surrounds one of these anti-extinction battles. The battle itself is fun, with several different characters jumping in at different points to show off and Scott adeptly barking orders. Magneto in particular has some pretty cool moments. There are some nice character moments scattered throughout, and some extras at the end continue to explore the politics of Scott’s stance on humanity and mutantkind’s relationship to one another. For now he’s advocating forms of segregation, insisting that only mutants can punish mutants, etc.

The colouring and artwork continues to be lovely. Characters are distinctive, backgrounds are open and neat. There’s a sense of smoothness to it; the art avoids being overly detailed to the point of becoming cumbersome to look at. Panels aren’t cluttered and character’s faces aren’t swimming in lines. It’s my favourite type of art: simple but so, so effective.

What’s particularly interesting about this premise is how humans are going to respond to it. They’re either going to hate them more, or slowly start to reconsider their positions. Considering that prejudice is an essential part of the X-Men premise, I’m not too hopeful, but I’m excited for the conflicts that are going to arise from the shifting public perception of mutants, wheher that perception is negative or positive (I have a feeling we’ll be seeing both).