Saturday, March 2, 2013
Uncanny X-Men by Kieron Gillen vol. 2 (comics)
Artists: Greg Land, Carlos Pacheco
Collects: Uncanny X-Men #5-10 (2011)
The library insists on stocking a bajillion X-Men books, so you can scratch my statement a while ago that I was done with Cyclops team. I'm not thrilled to get my hands on a volume, but Kieron Gillen is a good enough writer that it's worth borrowing. If it were anyone else writing I probably wouldn't have bothered; as you recall I was not a fan of the Fraction run at all.
Uncanny X-Men seems relegated to aftermath duty this volume, as it tackles the leftovers of an Uncanny X-Force plot. Seems a temporal distortion created a pocket world within it, which went through millions of years in the span of the outside worlds day. Some people who went in to investigate are now missing and Cyclops seems to figure a rescue is in order.
Gillen looks to do some world building in this arc, but I had difficulty connecting with it. It's very exposition heavy and Tabula Rasa frankly did nothing for me. I guess Gillen is setting up a new locale for the Marvel Universe to have some adventures in. Fair enough. Gillens skill managed to keep me interested long enough to make it through the arc. He's very good at injecting levity into proceedings with a well timed gag or sharp line of dialogue. Plus he writes a hell of a Namor; dude will straight up seduce anything if he needs to, to Hopes disgust and our amusement.
If there's a downside, it's that the other two plots are, frankly, pointless. The Colossus and Magik part spans maybe five pages across all four issues and doesn't serve any purpose higher than giving Colossus a chance to reflect on how close the Cyrotek gem brings him to being a monster. Hope chillin' with Namor in the river is given more time - and is the best part of the arc - but it's clearly there mainly to give the two something to do.
For some reason, we're stuck with Greg Land for these four issues. At least he remembers Psylocke is supposed to be asian. Seems like most artists forget that part in their haste to draw her ass into whatever panel she appears; not that Land is above the ass shot, but he does it less here than most. I don't know, standard complaints about Lands art stand, but it feels as though it's not as questionable as it usually is? There are some rough patches but I found less to hate. I'd still prefer someone else.
The other two issues* are ten times better. Carlos Pacheco is back on art for those two issues and Gillen uses the cast to play with the toys he created in the SWORD miniseries**. We don't see that much, so whenever Gillen manages to fit them in is a treat. The only downside here is that it only lasts two issues; it doesn't even require having read SWORD, so anyone can jump in and enjoy it. On top of all that, they have some relevance to other events as well; this is where we start to see the seeds of the conflict to come with the Avengers. These two issues are great reading.
It's a good thing too, because those two issues save this volume; had they been pushed to another volume I'd have said this volume was worth skipping.
The Score: 7 out of 10
The first arc isn't bad, but it's nothing spectacular. It's the last two issues that make the volume worth reading. Pick it up for those issues.
Cyclops Douchebaggery Alert: He's really not that bad in this volume. Still, he basically ditches the Avengers - who rightly note that Cyclops has, like, four other teams to either do the rescue or back the Avengers up - to charge headfirst into battle without any idea what is going on or how to handle the situation. Granted, it's trouble involving Hope and it isn't like the Avengers aren't the best heroes in the world, but the X-Men totally dropped out on them with barely a moments notice. Cap, being Cap, doesn't even get mad; just states that Cyclops basically went against his word that the world is his number one priority and proved otherwise. Which, of course, seems to piss the X-Men off judging by the art, because I guess Captain America has no right to question how they do things? Nevermind that it would have taken all of three seconds to send the order for another team to go back the Avengers up.
* Holy crap! Six issues? In a Marvel trade? Shocking, isn't it?
** SWORD was supposed to be an ongoing, actually, but Marvel being Marvel they canceled it before the first issue had even released, cutting it off at five and making it the equivalent of a miniseries. Low pre-orders or something, I guess. They pulled that with She-Hulks as well, a book that clearly suffered for the switch. Hell, they outright canceled a Doctor Doom miniseries because of it. It's one of those habits of theirs I hate.