Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Uncanny X-Men: Breaking Point (comics)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Terry Dodson, Ibraim Roberson
Collects: Uncanny X-Men #534.1, #535-539

I've been crapping on the modern X-Men books for a good while now. Not for no good reason, of course. The modern X books mostly suck. I'd actually said last time I delved into Uncanny I was taking a break from X books; obviously, that didn't happen, but I kept pretty clear of Uncanny X-Men.

Kieron Gillen's a good writer though, so I figured I'd take a look at one of the trades and see if he fares any better.

We've got three stories in the issues included. First one is Magneto getting some PR help so the X-Men don't have to dance around the fact that he's on the team. Look, this one is just never going to completely work logically - it's friggin Magneto - but Gillen does his level best. Hell, considering the public of the Marvel Universe are certified morons*, maybe it makes more sense than I'm giving credit for.

The second story - and the one encompassing the most issues - is the "Breaking Point" arc the trade is named after. It follows up on some loose threads from Joss Whedons Astonishing run and wraps that whole "Kitty's stuck as intangible" thing Fraction left behind. Probably won't mean as much if you haven't read Whedons run, but on it's own it makes a fairly decent story of the difficulty in breaking old ways and accepting new ones.

Last one's the best, in my opinion. It's a single issue story of the kidnapping of Hope - the mutant messiah - and Wolverines mission to rescue her. It hinges primarily on Wolverines avoidance of Hope and why. First instinct tells you it's because his best friend died for her, but it goes a bit deeper than that. It's an understandable one; we don't often think about Wolverines role when the tough decisions need to be made, much less what that must do to him inside.

Overall, what makes this whole exercise worthwhile is Gillens handle on the characters. Moments like the aforementioned bit with Wolverine show a better understanding of these characters than we've seen in a good long while. Even Cyclops manages to go without being insufferable and considering he's a massive prick these days that's saying something.

Still, it's far from essential reading. It doesn't really stand alone at all, even remotely; it plays almost entirely off the past few years of stories. If, like me, you're not at all invested in Cyclops, King of the Mutants and his rotting asteroid island, little of what you read will change your mind. Still, it's definitely a step up from before, so if you like the current X franchise, I suspect you'll love this.

Unfortunately for me, I may end up passing on anything further from Gillens run. It has nothing to do with quality. I believe there's one volume left after this before UXM hits Schism territory, so most of the interesting characters are leaving Gillens hands. What he's left with, I couldn't care less about, save Storm and Dr. Nemesis. I may check in, but I'll probably be on the Wolverine side of the X-verse in the future. It sounds more my speed.

The Score: 7.5 out of 10

Ahh, much better. Probably the best I've seen from the core X title in years. Give it a look; Gillen makes it worth the read.

* I'm at the point where I just assume IQ's for most regular Joes in the Marvel Universe hover around room temperture. These are the guys who turned on Captain America like it wasn't a thing, after all. Turned on Iron Man too after Secret Invasion, for things that weren't even his fault. Then there's their adoration of known mass murdering psychopath Norman Osborn. So hey, Magneto as a hero? Why not, they'll buy it. I swear, they basically ask for the crap that happens to them.

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