Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Uncanny X-Men by Kieron Gillen vol. 3 (comics)

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Greg Land, Billy Tan, Dustin Weaver
Collects: Uncanny X-Men (vol. 2) #11-14

Quick question. If you intend to launch an ongoing series, you probably have the intention of running it for a while, right? That seems to be the general idea. Well, not at Marvel! I hope you weren't getting attached to this volume of Uncanny X-Men, because it ends with the next collection.

That's right, this one got as far as twenty issues before another change so dramatic they figured a relaunch was in order. Why did they even do the first relaunch? They had to have had an idea where things were headed back then. Why not just wait until after the big status quo alteration for the full relaunch treatment?

Oh Marvel, you cads.

Anyways, as you can tell by that spiffy banner at the top of the front cover, Uncanny X-Men ended up in the old land of event tie-ins. To be completely fair to Marvel, this doesn't come out of the blue; the previous ten issues were all building up to Avengers vs X-Men. Still, there's something kind of sad about cancelling the over five hundred issue Uncanny X-Men, relaunching it, then letting it last all of twenty issues with ten of them tie-ins to a big event. If they absolutely had to relaunch the book at all, they should have waited for the end of AvX.

Despite having his title relegated to supplementary material for another series, Kieron Gillen makes the best of what he's got. He attempts to add some measure of depth to the proceedings, going so far as to try and give a reason for Namor to be on the side of the X-Men*. This probably shouldn't come as a surprise, but the best scenes all seem to hinge around Namor. Gillen seriously has that character down and his Namor alone has made reading this volume of Uncanny worthwhile.

Sadly, Uncanny's new status as an AvX tie-in comes with all the usual downsides. Most issues now read sort of like a clip show, with no flow between the issues. One issue Dr. Nemesis seems fine, the next he'll be more or less chemically paralyed with Storm and Magneto, who weren't in any of the prior issues. This is not Kieron Gillens fault, but it is still a major drag.

The only real upside is that Gillen manages to sneak in an issue focusing on Mister Sinister; you know, the one plotline Gillen has been able to truly cultivate prior to being hit with AvX. The downside is that if you want to see the conclusion to that, you're going to have to own a couple AvX tie-ins whether you want them or not. I guess you could always get the Sinister focused single issues and skip the trade. In fact, I recommend that.

Artwise, this one's a mixed bag leaning towards bad. I've made mention of Billy Tan before; he's pretty good but kind of workmanlike. Dustin Weavers issue - thanfully the Mister Sinister one - is as amazing as you'd expect. But then we're hit with two full issues of Greg Land art, because for some reason Marvel didn't get the memo that the less readers see of Lands work, the better. Seriously, there's a scene where some characters are near water and Greg Land couldn't even be bothered to draw the goddamn water. He just photoshops in an image of real water. Yeah, THAT doesn't contrast at all.

But man, that one issue of Dustin Weavers sure is pretty.

My Opinion: Try It

Kieron Gillen does his best, but the nature of the tie-in drags down his second to last X-Men volume. Still, he manages to make it worthwhile. I'm in for the last volume, but holy hell do I wish Marvel would have just let the guy do his thing.

Cyclops Douchebaggery Alert: Maybe it will read differently in AvX proper, but going by what we see here - which is the background of the pivotal scene where the battle begins - Cyclops starts the war by attacking Captain America with his optic blast. This is, I might add, without any form of physical provocation. You could argue Cap bringing backup just in case was a bad faith attempt at negotiations, but it's not like Cyclops is known for rational thought lately. Oh, and apparently he PLANNED to go to war with the Avengers, because he left the publicist of the X-Men a press release basically declaring his intent to give everyone the middle finger. Kind of amazing Marvel still considers this guy a hero. Cyclops is on a level of sheer douchebag that would make even Silver Age Superman say "damn!"

* As opposed to Captain Americas side. You know, the dude he's been friends with since World War II? Even with the mutant label they threw on him, you'd figure Namor would stay out of it as opposed to fighting Captain America, one of the few men he openly respects. Maybe it's just me.

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