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    Book of the Week: Uncanny X-Men #526

    By | July 29th, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Matt Fraction with art by Whilce Portacio with a back up by Allan Heinberg and Olivier Coipel.

    “THE FIVE LIGHTS” After the events of SECOND COMING, the X-Men’s world has changed. We can’t tell you much without spoiling the crossover, but here are some words to whet your appetite: Hope, Emma, Namor, Sebastian Shaw. Classic X-Men artist Whilce Portacio is back again for this story-arc of epic proportions!

    What did we at Multiversity think of the first entry into the post-Second Coming world? Find out after the cut!

    Matt’s Thoughts: I don’t care what anyone says at this point: I love Uncanny X-Men. The biggest complaint I hear is that it’s not a “team” book, but the more I read the more I honestly feel that that is the point. There are a lot of X-Books on the market right now, and Uncanny X-Men is the “premiere” title. It’s the one where the story of not just the X-Men is told, but the entire mutant race. This is not a team book, no – but it is a damn good story book.

    The issue is the follow up to Second Coming, in which the Five Lights will be introduced (just in time for Gillen’s Generation Hope!). We see Hope going on her journey introduced in the Heroic Age one-shot, and at the end we see the first new mutant. A lot has to be done right now in terms of the X-Men, so I can imagine that it must be rather hard as to which aspect needs to be focused on more. I think that Fraction showing us how he will be writing Hope was important, because she’s going to be a huge part of the upcoming X-World – even moreso than she already was. Cable is dead and Hope is alone, and she’s only recently discovered that she apparently has every mutant power ever, so with the issue of her father still in question, we’re given an issue that allows Hope to finally come into her own at the end of the issue. It’s a very nice moment.

    Granted, a LOT happens in this issue that sets up several different stories – not all of which are paid off. Emma Frost is out with Tony Stark, Cyclops is doing who knows what with Logan (in their rad bromance, which I couldn’t believe happened), and Hope doesn’t decide what she wants to do until the end of the title. Even her team through the book (Rogue, Nemesis, Cypher) seems like an odd pair. It’s here that I can see most people agreeing that the title suffers, and while I understand that this is mainly a story book, the choices do seem a tad odd. It’s quite easy for me to move past this element though, because I really enjoy Fraction’s writing here. Yes, it’s scattered, but the dialogue is sharp and the funny characters maintain their razor sharp wit while also allowing for quieter and more touching moments. His balance here works.

    I really have only two major complaints. The first is that, all in all this issue kind of screws up the time line of the entire X-Books. Rogue is in the main story and Magneto is in the back-up, and both are supposed to be in X-Men Legacy, which is having it’s own storyline entirely. It feels kind of weird to have these characters in two places at once, and while timelines are always “screwy” in comic books, I believe the whole point of the Second Coming finale was to have Rogue benched and off with lesser known mutants instead of hanging around as Hope’s BFF (considering they grew reasonably close throughout Second Coming). My other complaint is that I’m not really a fan of Whilce Portacio’s art. It feels a bit scratchy to me, when we’ve been rather spoiled to having really smooth and neat art within the pages of the book, especially in the past few months with Second Coming. I kind of wish they had kept Dodson on the title, despite me complaining about his work months ago during the Utopia/Nation X arc. Especially with the cover, it just would have looked a lot cleaner.

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    I also have to say – the back-up really is great. I know I frowned due to the continuity grumbles, but it really is a great moment for Magneto. It even seemed like something that Fraction might write in terms of characterization, which made it meld even better. It was a really great moment for Magneto, especially to have Wolverine of all people remind him that despite how nice he’s been for the past few months in the books, no one likes or trusts him regardless. It helps to solidify why I love his character so much, especially when he “wants” to be a good guy.

    All in all, I still recommend the title. I love Uncanny, and I have for quite some time now. The straight team thing never bothers me, and as long as a story is being told that I enjoy, I’m complacent. This story is just getting started, but I like where it’s heading. Give me a different artist and a tad more organization and you’ve got two thumbs up from me instead of just one and a grin.

    One last note before I go: the mutants all live on an island alone, right? Utopia is their home. So… does no one own a t-shirt or something? I mean, do Magneto, Wolverine, and Cyclops HAVE to walk around in their uniforms 24/7? Can’t they operate in jeans or slacks or something? It seems so odd to me that they never want to be out of their costumes. That must get uncomfortable.

    Gil’s Thoughts: Now that Second Coming is over, and The X-Men are rejoining the Marvel Universe at large, we can look forward to a few things. More crossovers with the other premiere superteam The Avengers, lighter stories with classic villains, and the new mutants that Hope activated upon using her Phoenix powers.

    And I enjoyed every minute of it. Well, not all. I thought Whilce Portacio’s art was uneven; being awesome in some spots and downright awful in others. It was generally disappointing for someone of his caliber to put in such poor work in spots, but that was made up by the addition of Olivier Coipel in the second half of the book. His work was downright gorgeous in comparison. But it’s gorgeous anyway, so that’s neither here nor there. Allan Heinberg worked with him there, and it was direct lead-in to the Young Avengers mini Children’s Crusade. It’s almost a shame Olivier isn’t sticking to either book, because Portacio seems to be a poor fit for this title, and Coipel is just too awesome not to use. Even Terry Dodson would be a better fit. His cover is absolutely stunning, and if I were running Burpee’s Got Ya Covered, it might make its way to the list.

    As for the story, here’s hoping a more defined team finds its way to the Uncanny X-Men pages, perhaps with a backup featuring a mutant not on any of the teams. That’d be cool, right?

    Brandon’s Thoughts: This book is extremely underwhelming to me. I love the idea of new mutants being developed and introduced but I just feel this doesn’t have the impact that it should. Hope activating them to full power was something I saw coming after the first couple of pages as well.

    The thing I really dislike is the stupid character intro boxes. Really Iceman has a great three point shots? Really? How does that have anything to do with the book? It just doesn’t fit the tone of the book one bit and is incredibly annoying. Plus, on a fanboy aside the X-Men play baseball damn it! Well not anymore it seems but well…whatever.

    The best part about this book was the backup but even that we saw coming considering that Children’s Crusade came out like three weeks ago. If anything the backup made the main story look awful as Alan Heinberg’s writing and character interactions were far superior to Matt Fractions. Just saying.

    Walt’s Thoughts: I’m always wary at the start of a new story in Matt Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men because the quality seems to be divided in an arc-by-arc manner; if the first issue of the arc is good, the rest will be good too. Unfortunately, if the first issue of an arc is bad… well, just look at “Sisterhood.” Thankfully, this issue was a pretty solid start, so I’m confident that the rest of the arc will be pleasant enough.

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    The plot of this story revolves around the X-Men seeking out the five new mutants (“the five lights”) that showed up on Cerebro at the very end of Second Coming as well as Hope meeting her unknowing grandmother. There’s a good amount of character development for one issue, and Fraction is able to make Hope’s transition from a reluctant Messiah-figure to an optimistic beacon of… hope a lot more smoothly than one might think. Matt Fraction does everything a writer needs to do directly following a huge crossover like Second Coming, heading headfirst into a new storyline without pausing for breath. Plus, Tony Stark cameos are always fun (when everybody is no longer pissed at him).

    However, as much as I enjoyed the issue, there were some weird little details that just didn’t sit right with me. Firstly, maybe I misread something, but I find it slightly odd that Hope’s grandmother lives in the same state as her daughter and seemed to be on good terms with her, yet never knew she was pregnant (that’s what I’m assuming from the dialogue, anyways). I also didn’t quite get how Dr. Nemesis “making a phone call” is a good reason for Hope’s grandmother to show up at the graveyard the same time they were there. Maybe it was supposed to mean he knew she was showing up then, but that doesn’t seem to fit with the dialogue, but that’s just my opinion.

    Overall, though, this was fun, and the slight problems I had did not detract from the story as I read it in the slightest. This is a great time to jump onto an X-title, so why don’t you give Uncanny a flick through and decide for yourself if it’s worth your time (the answer should be “yes”).

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."