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Uncanny X-Men #540 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), Joe Caramagna (letters), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor) & Nick Lowe (editor)

The Story: Juggernaut (the hammer-wielding, leveled-up version) is coming to town.

What’s Good: There are a few little nuggets about the world of Fear Itself in this issue, and I guess that’s really the point when the big event crosses over into an ongoing series.  Of all the folks who have gotten hammers, it makes the most sense that the X-Men would have something to do with Juggernaut since he is really the only one with whom they have a lot of history.  So, it was kinda cool to see Juggernaut get a thrall to follow him around, crying to everyone that DOOM is upon them.  Still no explanation about why Juggernaut speaks in viking runes whereas most of the other hammer-wielders can speak English…

Even if Cyclops was being all kinds of evasive, it was also nice to see the little scene between him and the sexy Mayor of San Francisco (Would she really be that sexy?).  One of the plot threads I’ve always enjoyed about the X-Men’s relocation to SF has been their integration with the Mayor’s office.  It was just kind of a neat touch.  Steve Rogers and the Avengers get to talk directly to the President.  The X-Men are happy just to deal with a lowly Mayor after being complete outcasts in the NYC metro area for decades.  I have a feeling some of this will be going away in the near future with Schism, so we’ll enjoy it while it is here.

Oh, and it was kinda fun to see Namor get shot down.  The only reason I enjoy having Namor around as a character are for those scenes where a woman refuses to sleep with him or some bad-guy who he takes lightly kicks his ass.  Love watching that guy fail.

What’s Not So Good: *Sigh* Greg Land is just a troubling artist.  I know it is a fan-favorite thing to beat up on his photo-referencing, but this issue is maddening because he has a lot of pretty good work in here.  And then he goes right back to the fact that all the women in this issue have the same face (Mayor of SF, Emma, Magik & Kitty) and that his mid-range faces are just dreadful.  There are a lot of little inkings of really nice linework in this issue and he has a very cinematic eye, but it just isn’t coming together into a tight package.  I really don’t care for the coloring palate or coloring style in this issue either.  Too many highlights, Namor colored to look like a black man in one panel, Colossus being so overinked/colored that his face blends into his shirt, etc.

There are also a few places where a cinematic perspective seems to take precedent over old-fashioned sequential storytelling.

Oh, and I really don’t care at all about this Magik storyline.  Honestly, I don’t even know what is really going on despite the fact that I know I read the New Mutants story arc where she committed some kind of horrid atrocity that is making no one trust her.  If it was so non-memorable that I can’t remember it a few months later, it hardly needs to be bumped up to a B-story in the main X-Men title.

Conclusion: Average story & below average art.  There’s nothing Earth-shattering in this issue.  There are those who complain when comic events screw up the “normal stories”, but I like these tie-ins because it doesn’t make any sense for the X-Men to have “normal stories” when the world is getting destroyed in Fear Itself.  The biggest problem with this issue is artistic.  I really don’t need to see any more of Greg Land’s art on this series.  He has an interesting look and it is cool the first time you see it, so why not rotate him around the Marvel Universe because we X-fans have seen it all over the last several years.

Grade: D+

- Dean Stell

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6 Responses

  1. Do you think this was better, worse, or about the same compared to average Fraction/Land issue?

    Really been debating getting into this title, but wanted to see how Gillen deals with Land, who seems to be able to deaden any story.

    That being said, I understand Gillen can struggle with tie-ins. I thought his Siege tie-in issues on Thor were pretty bad, despite the fact that the rest of his run was solid.

    • I think it’s better than the average Fraction issue, but Fraction’s run was really funny. I thought the Utopia crossover with Dark Avengers was great and Second Coming was great and he had two GREAT done-in-one issues (#512 where the X-Club goes back in time and ~#522 when Kitty came back). His “normal” story arcs were disposable crap.

      And Gillen’s first arc with the Breakworld aliens was better than any “normal” arc that Fraction did.

      I’ve generally liked Gillen too. Liked Thor with the exception of those Siege tie-ins. I’ve liked Journey into Mystery. Even Generation Hope has kinda gotten its footing.

      The only problem with jumping into the X-Men is its really easy to buy 5-6 titles. If you already read X-Force, and then pick up Schism and then get Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & the X-Men, suddenly you’ve got a lot of titles.

      • Yeah, I was thinking of getting this primarily due to Jason Aaron’s new book….but in the end, I’m thinking I’ll just get Aaron’s book and resist the temptation. I’ve already dropped X-Force to clear space. And really, I’m interested in Wolverine & the X-Men entirely due to the creative team and the prospect of no Greg Land.

        I tried multiple times to get into Fraction’s run, but to no avail. Granted, I thought the Land arcs were the worst, even when it came to Fraction’s input. But I recall those two one-shots and agree that they were by far the high-points. I mean….steampunk X-Men?

        I was more irritated by the Dark Avengers crossover, but that was due to being a Dark Avengers and NOT an Uncanny reader at the time.

        • You could also do the “sensible” thing and let some other OCD comic reader read a few of the issues first. :) It’s soooooo easy to get back issues online nowadays for cover price or less that we could all probably save money by waiting to see some reviews and then buying about 50% of the comics we normally buy.

  2. You know my beef with Land already. I really disliked how he did Kitty and Magik. They were the worst.

    As for the story, I was a bit surprised on how Emma reacted with Namor. I *really* do think she’ll not be on Cyclops’ side when Schism rolls around. Then again, if you contrast her to the newest issue of X-Men this week, I don’t see a problem at all. (Then again, we have one more issue for that arc to conclude still and it looks like a doosey).

    Kitty didn’t read as Kitty to me. It seemed out of the blue, to be honest. She finally gets to touch Colossus, and the first thing she does is bitch to him? I’ll never understand women.

    And as for Cyke, I didn’t mind those little bits until I saw the same snarky, sarcastic smile on his face every time he said something “witty.”

    Bah! D+ is an agreeable score for me.

    • My big thing is that Emma just shouldn’t cheat on Scott. Her ability to be monogamous kinda indicates that she’s at a new and more mature place as a character instead of being a kinda one-note sex kitten. Although I find myself wondering how her outfit works with that flowing cape that is attached to her bodice. It seems like the cape would always be getting snagged on door knobs or corners of tables.

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