Sunday, 17 February 2013

Uncanny X-Men #1 review

They've been part of the All-New X-Men book since the first issue, and now Cyclops' team of Magneto, Magik and Emma Frost get their own series, one Marvel is marketing as the lead comic in the franchise. Whereas Wolverine and the students of the Jean Grey school want to teach young mutants to live alongside 'baseline' humans, Cyclops and co reckon there's a war between Homo Sapien and Superior coming, and they need to prepare new mutants to be on the winning side.

So far, they've recruited a young woman who can stop time, and a young man who can heal wounds. Both are on hand in this debut issue as the militant X-Men rescue another new mutant from the authorities, a chap who's spontaneously manifesting Swiss exercise balls from his body (as you do). The moment of triumph is shortlived, however, as Sentinels attack. The giant mutant hunters are no match for a new manifestation of Cyclops' powers, but the incident proves the final straw for another member of the team, who turns traitor.

For this issue's action has a framing sequence, as one of Cyclops' seconds goes to SHIELD agent Maria Hill, and tries to persuade her that the government's super-spies should take him down. Despite the growing popularity of his mutant rescue campaign with ordinary members of the public, says the mystery man, Cyclops remains a 'murdering monster'.

Given that the traitor turns out to be Magneto, though, this is rank hypocrisy of the first order - how many people has he killed over the years in the name of mutant superiority? Still, he's switched sides so many times that the betrayal is no huge surprise.

When we learn just whose chin we've seen in close-up throughout the issue, it seems we're meant to gasp, 'the traitor is ... Magneto?!' But the lack of set-up by writer Brian Bendis that the unidentified figure was at SHIELD as a turncoat, rather than as an emissary of Cyclops, takes away from the moment. As does the fact that Magneto has had his hair shaved off, making him unrecognisable when drawn in civvies by Chris Bachalo.

That apart, this is a decent opener to a spin-off series. It's not compelling - I'm not especially excited at the prospect of another issue in a couple of weeks - but hardcore mutant fans will likely be satisfied. Certainly, slotting Magneto back into his traditional role of adversary rather than ally puts Cyclops in a better light by comparison - if the X-Men's greatest foe is no longer with him, perhaps he's not gone so far towards the dark side as it seemed. But the script's a tad flabby around the edges, a la Bendis' Avengers books - the first couple of pages, for example, are simply Hill chatting to colleagues as she approaches the interview room and could easily be excised.

Bachalo's art, coloured by himself and inked by Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza and Al Vey, is attractive, though a couple of moments in the action sequences are a tad unclear. And the new costumes - with one exception - are weak compared to the looks they replace. The exception is Magik's, whose new look suits her demonic sensibility.
My favourite image of the issue is Cyclops-as-revolutionary-poster-boy, above, a stark graphic that demands to be extended and slapped on mugs and tee shirts. Runner-up is the excellent spread revealing the Sentinels, which is as dynamic and kinetic as you could wish.

Given that Cyclops' mission is part of the backbone of the All-New X-Men book - his younger self and the rest of the original class have been brought from the past to calm him down - I don't see the need for this series. If the originals aren't focusing on the grown-ups, they're wasting their time. But if Brian Bendis is going to write one book about a team, you can bet he's going to write two ... and probably more. Let's hope he can find a match here for the entertaining vibe of All-New X-Men. So far, I don't see it.

14 comments:

  1. I reviewed this a bit ago. I did enjoy it as a new reader, but I do have similar complaints, especially when it comes to the art (like identifying who is who), and that not much happened overall for this issue. Personally, I didn't mind the Magento reveal because I haven't read as much X-Men comics like others have, so for me this was perfectly fine and surprising.

    Guess we aren't on the same page for comics this week.

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    1. I'm happy for us to be disagreeing, I get to read oppo opinions and maybe have my mind changed; at the very least, I get entertaining views.

      Been meaning to ask, who's that little fella in your profile piccie?

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    2. Him? He is Firo Prochainezo from the anime series Baccano! and jokingly referred to several characters in the series as main characterish, even though he is one of over 10 main characters. Despite being a member of the mafia (it's a series of nothing but "bad guys" taking place during the early 30's in America), he is probably one of the nicest characters of the show.

      Also, the character I use for my Twitter account is Isaac Dian who from the same series. He and girlfriend/wife/lover, Miria, are a pair of Bonnie & Clyde thieves who steal things for the weirdest of reasons (they once robbed a watch store in order to steal time). Honestly, despite being criminals, they are the nicest and sweetest of all characters in the show, plus funniest and weirdest. Just have a look:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5G6gEFY4c0

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  2. The most shocking thing to me is that people were shocked by the "big reveal" that Magneto is the big guy here.. Ya know, the same guy that in All-New X-Men showed himself to be VERY irritated with Scott for what Scott did to his powers (which still makes no sense.. just being close to the Phoenix did that to him? What about all the others then?). I honestly felt myself begin to skip over chunks of the story because I honestly didn't care.

    All the costumes are HIDEOUS and so one-note. Why is Marvel obsessed with the X-Box logo and why is Cyke wearing the Omnitrix? Why is Magneto mimicking Fantomex? And why is new guy look like Afro Samurai and No More Heroes had a baby? Why do all the ladies look like prostitutes (especially up next to the guys who are all covered from head to toe pretty much). And why is the newest guy they just found mimicking Speedball's powers only.. with real balls? Lame. Bendis sucks at making mutants as much as Morrison apparently.

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    1. Please send that last paragraph to Tom Brevoort over on Formspring and report back!

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    2. IIRC it was that Magneto was blasted by Cyclops while he was all Phoenixed up. That's what I seem to remember him saying recently, though I didn't read most of the AvX arc so I don't know.

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  3. i'll take wolverine and the x-men thank you very much also mart do you still read aarons thor series and is it good

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    1. I'm a few issues behind, though I have them. I'll probably switch to trade as while the first issues were great, I don't feel that I have to rush to keep up.

      As for the Hulk, the first issue wasn't bad, but I don't like the art and I'm sick of SHIELD.

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    2. well it may get better walt simonson is coming on for a few issues as hulk goes to asgard, fights some jotuns and meets thor who doesn't seem to know hulk

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    3. Oh wow, I never knew that. Cheers!

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    4. now if only bachalo returns to wolverine and the x-men all would be right with my comic book world

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  4. anyone here read indestructible hulk

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  5. anyone else pissed that bachalo isn't on wolverine and the x-men, i mean this book is alright but bendis could've done this book with someone else maybe bagley

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