by Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (pencils), Rachel Dodson (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)
The Story: Scott ventures into Emma’s mind in an attempt to seperate her from the void as tensions grow among Utopia’s residents.
What’s Good: X-Men fans will no doubt be absolutely thrilled to know that this month is a Greg Land-free zone. I’ll admit that over the past couple of months, my position on land has reached something akin to sadly ambivalent resignation. The Dodsons’ signature style has always been fun and as a result, this entire experience of this issue is a much more pleasant affair compared to the past few Land-drawn books. I can’t necessarily point to specific images that blew me away, nor can I talk in specifics. All I can say is that the book as a whole feels so different and so much better under the Dodsons’ hands. It feels so much more fun, so much more full of life, and so much more likable. Hell, even though they aren’t writing, the book even feels smarter. Under the Dodsons, Uncanny essentially becomes a better book, one that’ll leave you feeling a lot happier and a lot more eager to read it.
To be fair, though, this is also a better outing by Fraction as well. While last week’s book was little more than an extended action sequence, this month is much more character-based and human. It’s a more intimate, relatable, and engaging read for these reasons.
Normally, I’m not a fan of books centered on one character’s adventures in another’s mind. Such comics often end up being strange for strange’s sake, while not carrying the gravitas that a good book should. That said, I rather enjoyed Scott’s adventures in Emma’s brain. Largely, this is due to the dynamic between the two characters, but even more so, it’s because Fraction does not attempt to have these abstract psychic adventures fill the entire issue. We get extended breaks from all the psychic wandering, and as a result, what wandering there is more palatable and the book feels much better paced. Furthermore, Fraction takes a minimalist approach to Emma’s mind. It’s big, blank, and full of doppelgangers; the Void’s presence makes it weird and creepy, but Fraction’s restraint keeps it from going off the deep-end.
Meanwhile, Beast’s reappearance in the book’s pages is a welcome, grounded relief and he remains a well-written character. I also continue to enjoy whenever Fraction treats the logistic difficulties of living on a “floating” asteroid. His acknowledging the real difficulties of sustained living on such an impossible location make the book feel more intelligent and eases the already massive strain on the suspension of disbelief.
What’s Not So Good: Fraction’s minimalist approach to his depiction of Emma’s mind is a bit double-edged. While it prevents the book from becoming lost in the wilds of indecipherable abstraction and metaphor, Fraction may very well have taken it a little far in making Emma’s mind nothing but a white blank. It’s bland and empty and one can’t help but wish Fraction pushed the very able Dodsons a little more.
Also, while the artwork was great, I’m not sure if the opening scene with a Predator X was necessary, given how much was already going on in this book. It doesn’t help that it’s the only scene not on Utopia and as a result, it feels detached and not at all the sort of introduction or prologue that an opening two pages should be.
Conclusion: A really good issue of Uncanny accompanied by refreshingly vibrant, characterful artwork