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Uncanny X-Men #502

Posted: Tuesday, September 16, 2008
By: Christopher Power

Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker
Greg Land (p), Jay Leisten (i), Justin Ponsor (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Uncanny X-Men #502 arrives in stores tomorrow, September 17.

Two issues from the big 500 and Uncanny continues to be a classic X-Men style story, with plenty of fun dialogue, good action and the odd surprise. One might wonder why I did not give this book a better rating; the reason is the art. I will reverse my usual review order and comment on the art first.

Greg Land is a talented artist. He has spent a great deal of time honing his craft of using life models and reference art to turn in some beautiful covers, especially of Marvel women. However, he simply cannot keep a consistent look throughout a book. There are tons of moments where characters look radically different from previous panels. Much like issue #501, the only consistent face is Emma Frost, who Land clearly adores.

However, even with Emma there are problems. Historical pictures of Emma with the Hellions look like bad pornography. The scene where Emma poses in diamond form was gorgeously rendered, with colours and inks popping off the page. Unfortunately, it looks like Land used the same reference for that picture that he did for his She-Hulk covers.

Finally, there are serious proportion problems in many of the figures. Most notable is Dazzler. The torso is too long, the arms are uneven, the hips are in the wrong place and the globe-like breasts look absurd. I just cannot abide such poor construction in what is a mainstream, popular comic book.

The story itself is enjoyable, with a surprise twist on who is in the mask and black corset. The surprise leaves open a whole new set of questions, and at least we cannot chock it up to Skrulls given that they are being looked after in another series.

One thing that Brubaker and Fraction have an amazing feel for are the personalities of the various X-Men. They are consistent with what I remember from my youth, while showing a maturity of dialogue and writing that sets the characters apart from those old stories, while maintaining the core character.

I immensely enjoy the interplay between Wolverine and Nightcrawler during the combat scenes. This remains one of the best characterizations in the book, and keeps the action moving and adds to the rhythm of combat.

Another surprising turn that still catches me off guard is Cyclops not acting like a pansy. He is tough, going so far as to fake torture in order to get information. I do not necessarily approve of it, but it is clear that he is not pulling punches any more just because it isn't part of "the dream."

I'm looking forward to seeing the next issue. Hopefully more about the Red Queen will be revealed.







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