Current Reviews


Uncanny X-Men #415

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2002
By: Michael Deeley

Writer: Chuck Austen
Artist: Sean Phillips

Publisher: Marvel

A stand-alone, in-between issue where nothing big happens, though the seeds are planted for more to come. Nightcrawler is having a crisis of faith, as he doubts his worthiness to be a priest. Iceman's mutation is turning him into ice. He shows this only to Annie, the human nurse at Xavier's who's still not used to working with mutants. Annie also discovers Northstar's secret crush on the very straight Iceman. Angel displays a rapid healing ability, while trying to cover up his pain for the death of Betsy "Psylocke" Braddock. Then Northstar fights a madman. The end.

Only one fight in this issue; It's mainly a character study of the 'Uncanny' team. If you haven't been reading the series so far, this is a good place to jump in. We get a good idea of who the characters are, and what they're all about. Angel is the leader whose serious demeanor covers his pain. Iceman is the comic relief who covers his pain with humor. Nightcrawler is pious, but doubtful. Northstar is haughty and superior. His sexuality is incidental.

Most interesting is Annie, the human nurse who just joined the cast. Her son is a mutant, and she's attracted to the comatose Alex "Havok" Summers. She's not comfortable around mutants, but she's learning. Her conflicts with Iceman are personal, not racial. She just plain doesn't like him because, A) He's making her job harder, and B) he acts too immature for her. The inclusion of an ordinary human in the book should provide a unique perspective on the stories and well as new character dynamics. Annie is working with people who are trying to protect and win over her kind. Yet Annie still feels fear around these individuals of great power. Seeing them up close and realizing they're just like anyone else only makes them more frightening. If mutants are just regular people with powers, and regular people can't get along, who knows what mutants are capable of? Annie, to the X-Men, is the enemy. Ironically, that's why Iceman and Northstar trust her with their secrets. She won't tell anyone because no one talks to her.

Sean Phillips' art isn't bad, but it's not my taste. The lines are thick and dark to the point of overshadowing the detail. I'm looking forward to the start of Kia Asamiya's run. A preview of the next issue concludes the book. While her art shows a strong manga style, it allows the colorists a greater role in storytelling. The thin lines and subtle shadows let the colors set the mood, tone, and emotion of the scene.

My only real complaint with this story is how Iceman's past is ignored. He tells Angel to stop pretending to run a corporation by phone. Iceman says this is impossible because he worked summers at his uncle's electronics store. Excuse me for sounding like a lifeless geek, but Iceman, a.k.a., Bobby Drake, is also a certified public accountant. His claim that a business couldn't be run long distance would have more weight if he said he was an accountant. It's the difference between criticizing someone's cooking because you used to be a chef, and because you watch 'Iron Chef'.

Final Word:
A short breather between story arcs, this is a character study in a capsule, similar to 'X-Factor' #87. Nothing special in this issue, but you get your 2 and 1/4 dollars worth.

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