Current Reviews


Uncanny X-Men #425

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2003
By: Michael Deeley

Writer: Chuck Austen
Artist: Philip Tan

Publisher: Marvel

I don’t usually write separate reviews for single comics now that I have my own column, but Tim Hartnett’s recent trashing of ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #425 warrants a response. Basically, everything Tim said about Chuck Austen’s work is wrong. And here’s why:

Like many superhero writers today, Austen realizes that history is cumulative; that years and years of fighting, adventuring, and all the other comic book melodrama would change a person. It’s only in recent years that writers like Bendis, Morrison, James Robinson and Geoff Johns have drawn on the long histories of the characters they’re writing and shown them change. For the first time, we are seeing superheroes grow and change with life. Just like real people.

That seems to be Tim’s problem with this particular book. He thinks the X-Men, particularly the women, are acting stupid. Now, I’m no psychologist or even a social magnet, but I do know this: REAL PEOPLE ACT STUPID TOO!! Real people let their emotions cloud their judgment. Real people act on their feelings, feelings like loneliness, fear, longing, and desire; all of which are on full display here.

Bobby and Annie Ghazikhanian, (is it so hard to copy that name from the book?), are both hurting because someone they love is marrying someone else. Bobby’s confession about being unhappy is heart-breaking. I could feel his loneliness and desperation. Annie, who’s smart enough to recognize that mutants can be as racist as humans, gives into Bobby to an unknown degree rather than return to living alone. Scott helps Alex to confront his true feelings in a fairly clever way. And Cain was beginning to feel like a big brother to Sammy when he was taken away. In light of what’s gone on in the last year, and the characters’ entire histories, the feelings these characters are displaying seem perfectly natural. These people are changing and I’m enjoying the change.

“Soap-opera nonsense”? The X-Men was built on soap opera style stories. Hell, the only difference between superheroes and soap operas are you won’t see anyone flying on “All My Children”! “All female members lose their intelligence at the bacholerette party”. Well, yeah! That’s what you’re supposed to do at a party! It’s no fun if you think too much about it. And for the record, only three of the women actually talked: Jean, Lorna, and Jubilee. (I do have to question what Northstar was doing there, though. But at least he’s not “in the back of the shop”, eh Jason?) I notice that Tim didn’t say anything about the male X-men making crude demands of the shape-shifting stripper.

I will say that the change in Lorna’s personality did strike me as sudden and forced. The text piece at the beginning of the issue implied that she is still traumatized by the slaughter of Genosha. But I’d rather have seen that change take place within the comic itself; Maybe a short scene of Lorna, just back from Genosha, acting not quite herself. I can accept that Lorna’s attitudes about life have changed after living with Magneto and surviving such horror. I just wish there was a better transition between life-changing events.

I do agree with Tim’s praise for Philip Tan’s artwork and the coloring of Avalon Studios. Avalon has done a much better job than whoever it was that colored the books last month. Tan’s work reminded me of Mike Zulli, but crossed with Kia Asamiya. A strange hybrid that produced an unreal, dream-like effect. I wouldn’t mind seeing the tile return to a strict monthly format if it meant seeing Tan as the regular artist.

Frankly, I found Harnett’s criticism of the issue to be extremely harsh and even a little sexist. On the other hand, (how can I say this without sounding sexist), Claremont’s female characters have set such a high standard in the minds of X-men readers that any realistic women characters will appear to be stupid and weak. Just like real world men will appear inferior compared to superhero men. In short, I loved this book! I had to go back and count the pages to make sure this was a regular-sized comic. The art was so detailed and there was so much to read that it felt longer. That could be taken two ways, but I say this was a hefty, rich, full-bodied comic well worth 3 dollars. It’s Chuck Austen’s finest work on the title. I can’t wait for the next issue. If this gets back to Mr. Austen, tell him this: Thank you. I love your work.

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