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Uncanny X-Men #542 – 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: How will the X-Men stop the Juggernaut?  Well, Cyclops has some plans.

What’s Good: The coolest thing in this issue was seeing all the wacky schemes that Cyclops tries in his effort to stop the Fear Itself Juggernaut.  None of them are anything as passé as “have Storm zap him with a lightning bolt”.  Nope, right in the opening scene, you see Cyclops standing next to Avalanche (who is a villain) as they open a chasm to try to stop Juggernaut.  When that doesn’t work, so they start rolling out all kinds of weird and unusual combos (e.g. Gambit energizing Rockslide who then attacks Juggernaut).  Of course, nothing works, but the cool thing is how much confidence this gives me in Gillen handling Uncanny for the immediate future.  Any of these combos could have been the big fight-ender at the climax of a generic X-story during a recently ended run on the title, but here they’re single-panel throw-away concepts.  That isn’t to say that they’re trivial things, but the way Gillen is just flinging them around makes me feel that he’s got a LOT of ideas to blow 5-6 of them in a single issue.  Let’s just say that I don’t think these were his best ideas and that means the future should be good.

The build-up for next issue involves Colossus and is really cool.  I could have done without the Kitty-Colossus angst (“Oh dear, they’re being pulled apart again.  Can’t they catch a break!?!”), but it really makes sense that Colossus would be the one who has to go up against Juggernaut considering all the times they’ve fought and all the times Juggernaut has kicked Colossus’ butt.  Maybe now he has the edge?

I’m really not a fan of Greg Land’s art, but this issue mostly allowed him to do the things he excels at.  The guy really does have a cinematic eye and Justin Ponsor does a nice job of coloring everything.  Land also really mixes up page/panel layouts nicely.  It is a very nice looking issue except for the one problem I’m going to note below.

What’s Not So Good: The way Land draws women’s heads is really annoying.  He isn’t even making a token effort to make the ladies look different from each other.  Kitty, Emma, Pixie, Illyana, Psylocke, Dazzler and Siryn all have the exact same face and mostly the same haircut.  C’mon man!  You’re better than this!

It made me have some very funny thoughts.  Such as, can you imagine how mortified Emma would be to have the same haircut as another woman?  She’d shave her head first!  Or maybe every Greg Land arc on Uncanny should just star the Stepford Cuckoos since they’re supposed to look alike?

It may seem that I’m picking on a very small aspect of the issue, but when something like this rises to the level of being distracting, it is a serious problem; especially when we’ve been seeing these same faces since Land’s time on the X-Men began ~40 issues ago.

And where are the editors on this?  And editor needs to say, “At least put a different nose on one of the characters!”

Conclusion: Not great, but a pretty good issue showing that Gillen is a font of ideas about creative ways to use the X-Men’s powers.  That bodes well for the future!  Greg Land does a pretty nice job, but screws it up by giving all the women the same face (again).

Grade: B-

- Dean Stell

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3 Responses

  1. Oh God, Greg Land’s Ilyana/Pixie/Emma problem rears its ugly head again! They’re the same effing person!

    Also….Colossus’ face on that cover. I can’t deal.

    Your review gives me hope though. The issue managed to get above a C+, which means that Gillen seems to be generally managing to swim above the deadening effect that Land’s art often has.

    • Yeah….the art is holding it back because the story is as good as you could want it to be. I really wonder what the hell is going on with the X-editors because I have to think that Land is capable of drawing more varied women. I mean….he’s actually a good artist, but they’re letting him be lazy to the point where the entire internet comics community laughs at him. How is that a good thing?

  2. while I hate bashing on artists because I can’t draw for crap…I do look forward to the relaunch when Greg Land will not be on here. His monsters are cool…but the models are not.

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