"Rise and Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire: Chapter 3: Vulcan's Progress"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Clayton Henry (p), Mark Morales (i), Wil Quintana (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Vulcan is a bad ass. This issue of Uncanny X-Men provides his back story as he wanders in space to kill Shi’Ars. When I first learned about him, in X-Men: Deadly Genesis, I thought, “Oh, gee, another Summers brother who blasts things…how original,” but Ed Brubaker clearly knows how to stretch his energy manipulation power to more then just one trick. In one scene in space, we learn that Vulcan's “...senses reach out through the blackness around him…searching… / …Until he feels their power cells pulsing in the distance… / The slow heartbeat of three Shi’Ar vessels at work,” and in other scenes he uses the manipulation to send his voice and image into the Shi’Ar communication equipment.
As I looked at Vulcan I couldn’t stop thinking of Superboy-Prime. They both have black hair, look 20-40 years old, are on a killing spree and wear tight clothing, so there are obviously going to be similarities. But the third panel, a tight look at Vulcan’s face, has some of his hair swirling down his forehead in classic Superman fashion. A lot of the poses characters take in the issue, like the Imperial Guard at the end, are very Superman-ish to me. Also, when Vulcan first boards the Shi’Ar war ship, his body language seems a lot like Lex Luthor. I read another reviewer claim that Clayton Henry's work in this issue surpasses regular artist Billy Tan's work in the opening chapters. I disagree. Billy Tan is more my kind of artist. Clayton Henry has his good points, but it lacks detail. Once I glance at each panel, I’ve seen it all. When I pay $3 for these, I want to be able to stare at it at least as long as a cute girl or boy soaked in the rain which is free. With Henry, I just blew past it, thinking only about the end of Infinite Crisis.
Brubaker seems to be more ambitious than Marvel will let him be. There are two points in this issue where there were clear editing cuts made. One comes as the narrator tells of his past; it mentions Marvel Girl transferring his father’s memories from Xavier to him, but looking back at Deadly Genesis, that never appears to have happened. Another point where it looks like there was a cut was shortly after he boards the Shi’Ar ship, Vulcan orders a Shi’Ar, “You’re going to give me a crash course in Shi’Ar history…I need to know what I’m up against,” but then it skips over their discussion. Having not read much of the Shi’Ar stories, I really wanted to hear it. Also, it could have been a nice little "Where are they now?" bit (although if the next issue is "X-Men: Lost in Space," there is going to have to be some sort of filler, likely in the form of more exposition).
This issue does not seem to fit in too well with the story arc. I read Deadly Genesis after reading the first issue of "Rise and Fall," so I think an exposition piece like this should have been put as a prelude, or even a side title one-shot. In terms of chronological order, this is right where it belongs, but its focus is different from the rest of the books so far.
Uncanny X-Men #477 wins points with me because I liked some of the scenes and the story. However, it loses points by not fitting in with the rest of the story too well and having boring art. . If you’re following the story and can’t get a hold of this issue for whatever reason, don’t fret.
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