Current Reviews


Uncanny X-Men #501

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker
Greg Land (p), Jay Leisten (i), Justin Ponsor (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Uncanny X-Men #501 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 20.

After a solid showing in Uncanny X-Men #500, where I personally was left inspired by grand speeches, sharp dialogue and intriguing characterizations, this month we have an equally solid showing that I think is leading up to a superb story arc. Fraction and Brubaker have to spend most of this issue continuing to build on things that were left open from the last issue, from the question of who is running things, to who the next villains are going to be, to what the status quo is for our merry mutants.

There are a number of key scenes in this book, each serving a different purpose:
  • The opening scenes with Scott and Emma show them enjoying the stability of their new life and finding plenty of ways to fill the time. However, there is a question as to whether Scott and Emma are heading in the same direction in terms of their lives and goals. This shows them as being a "real" couple, dealing with real issues. It could very well be the case that within the year we will no longer see Emma and Scott as a couple and they will part ways and it won't have anything to do with space aliens, mutant rebels or anything more than what people face everyday.

  • The scene in the car with Warren and Scott seems to be superfluous, and when I read the issue the first time, it kind of bothered me. It seemed like a lot of left wing, green propaganda which, while I agree with the sentiment, did not seem to move the story ahead. However, on multiple readings, I came to realize that this scene is intended to show that the X-Men are secure enough in their new setting that they can begin looking at bigger issues in the world beyond just survival. That is actually a great thing, because it gives them more structure, more room to move with characterizations and more importantly gives them something to lose.

  • The scene in the kitchenette at Graymalkin established the core team. It showed who was going to be the main players in the current Uncanny X-Men storyline. That gives, again, more structure, and gives new readers a smaller group to become familiar with, and draws on many of the favourites from the X-series and the X-Men movies.

  • Everything dealing with Pixie was flawlessly executed. Fraction and Brubaker, with solid art from Greg Land, create an air of freedom and hope in the first pages of the book, only to have it ripped away by the hands of a bunch of maniacs. It shows how fragile times of peace can be, and that the threats to the X-Men are familiar and imminent. Racism and fear drive the villains, along with a new mutant villain who can push the right buttons.
The book is solidly written, with many fun moments in it, including the clever captions for character introductions. The moments with Beast revealing that his mutation may be reversing itself some gives me some hope that the mopey Beast may be gone for a while. Indeed, there wasn't a mopey face or broody soul in the whole book. That is very refreshing, since we have had people writing the X-Men as angst-ridden teenagers for far too long.

I am still not really keen on Greg Land's art style, but he turns in competent panels. I do wish that the material were more consistent from page to page. I am not certain if different reference models cause the problems, or if it is just sloppiness in some of the faces. The only individuals who look the same from page to page are Emma Frost and Pixie.

As an aside, I would like to say right now, that Pixie is an unknown character to me. I have heard complaints from fans that she grew up too fast. Thus far, the character reminds me of the original appearances of Blink, who is one of my more fondly remembered characters. If Fraction and Brubaker can write a solid character for Pixie, I say we give them a chance.

What did you think of this book?
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