This was the first issue of Uncanny X-Men I’ve bought in quite a while. Though they’ll always have a special place in my heart, Marvel’s Merry Mutants have long since fallen out of favor in my eyes. Perhaps it’s the fact that ½ of Marvel’s line has an X in the title? Perhaps it’s the convoluted mess the stories became in the 1990’s? Maybe it’s just too much Wolverine? At any rate, while I loved Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon’s runs on the book, I’m more-or-less out of the loop with the X-titles. However, deep within my secret heart, in a place where no one else sees, I carry a tiny torch for the X-Men. No matter how much I might dislike them, I can never truly stop loving them.
Hmmm. Those last couple lines are kind of creepy sounding now that I read them back. How ‘bout we just get on with the review, eh?
The latest issue of the flagship X-book finds the X-Men split up, engaged in various missions which will undoubtedly save mutantkind. Beast and Angel have teamed up with Madison Jeffries and Dr. Nemesis to find some scientist who apparently is some sort of expert on mutation. I think. It wasn’t really very clear, but it was pretty sweet when they fought these crazy lobster creatures on the beach before finding the guy. And I have to admit that Dr. Nemesis is an incredibly cool name. But I really didn’t have any idea what was going on here and I’ve decided that I don’t like the cat look for Beast. I’ve waffled back and forth on it for years now and today marks the day that I have officially decided that I don’t like it. Anyway, the lobstrocities were cool.
Meanwhile, Piotor Nikolaievitch Rasputin, better known as Colossus, is on an undercover mission. He’s out to stop some dudes who are trafficking Russian sex slaves, which naturally pisses the big metal guy off and he busts some heads. On a side note, has there ever been an issue of X-Men that didn’t introduce Colossus by his full name? They never just say “Here’s Colossus”, it’s always “Piotor Nikolaievitch Rasputin – Colossus”. Maybe it’s in his contract? At any rate, I figured I’d better do it in this review just in case.
Meanwhile (again) back at Graymalkin Industries, Cyclops is briefing the multitudes of X-Men on their current situation. Trask has leaked footage of the Cooperstown Massacre to the press. Since I’m not reading any X-books, I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know it isn’t good. Also, the local mayor has made it clear that she considers Marin County (where the X-Men are located) to be a safe haven for mutants, which is a good thing, because tons of mutant and former mutant refugees show up at the doors of the mansion seeking sanctuary. Again? Doesn’t this happen in every X-book? I know that it’s sort of the whole point of the X-Men’s mission, but it’s like a broken record. Or like introducing Colossus by his full name every time he appears, only not as sweet.
So was the book any good? Meh. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t really do anything for me. I would say that I was confused because I picked up a book in the middle of an arc and didn’t know what was going on, but that’s not really the truth. The truth is, I knew exactly what was going on because despite the fact that I don’t regularly read X-Men, this is pretty much exactly what was going on last time I picked up an issue of the X-Men. It’s sort of like when you hear rave reviews about a new TV show so you tune in and you like it, but for whatever reason, you never get the chance to tune in again. Then, six months later, you finally catch another episode and guess what? It’s a rerun of the same episode you already saw. I’m sure there are a lot of great X-stories going on out there, but this one just seemed like filler.
Judging solely by this one issue (which I know isn’t really very fair) I would have to say this book just feels like it’s on auto-pilot. The characters were well written, I suppose, but well written in the way that they just feel like total stereotypes at this point. Beast is smart so he always wants to study whatever monster they’re fighting and says “Oh my stars and garters” in every issue. Colossus is honorable and Cyclops is stressed. Emma has a dark side. Blah blah blah. It felt like Fraction really phoned this one in. It might’ve been a decent conversation, but it was phoned in nonetheless.
The art was good. Didn’t knock my socks off, but that’s just a personal preference. I don’t think I really have anything bad to say about Terry Dodson’s work. He’s got a fluid style that seems like a good fit for a big whiz-bang slam-up action story, though he didn’t seem to have quite an easy of a time with the more somber or emotional scenes.
I haven’t picked up an issue of Uncanny X-Men in quite a while and this issue isn’t likely to prompt me to pick up another any time soon. But it didn’t make me hate the X-Men either. There is still a tiny box sheltered deep within my secret heart – only I know where the key is, and inside there is still a tiny torch that burns for the X-Men. It isn’t likely to become a raging inferno though. I’d give the book a C based on its middle-of-the-road blandness, but due to it’s repetitive “these are the X-Men and this is what they’re about” nature, it gets a C-.