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Uncanny X-Men #1 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Cam Smith (inks), Frank D’Armata (colors), Sebastian Girner (assistant editor) & Nick Lowe (editor)

The Story: We’ve seen Team Wolverine’s light-hearted high school.  Surely Team Cyclops will be up to more adult things.

Five Things: 

1. Really like the more adult tone of this title.  It’s too soon to really tell, but it seems like Uncanny X-Men will be a lot more serious than Wolverine and the X-Men.  That’s great because the world isn’t served well by having 4-5 roughly similar X-Men titles as we’ve endured the last few years.  So, while Wolverine is putting up with the hi-jinks of Iceman, Rockslide, Gambit, Rogue, Kitty, etc., Cyclops is going to deal with real mutant issues by setting up an uber-team of mutants who can tackle any problem and scare the pants off anyone who’d think twice about crossing the mutants.

2. Speaking of super-teams.  He calls them the “Extinction Team” and it consists of Cyclops, Magneto, Storm, Namor, Hope, Juggernaut-Colossus, Danger and Illyana.  Oy vey!  That really is a pretty horrifying concentration of power.  Just dealing with Magneto, Namor and Super-Colossus is pretty scary.  Oh, and Danger now has some kinds of super battle modifications which is pretty interesting given how formidable she was already.  And, then you’ve got Storm whipping up a hurricane and Cyclops shooting energy bolts and Hope copying whatever mutant’s powers would be most convenient.  Holy Hell!  I also really liked how Cyclops compared this team to a weapon of mass destruction and pointed out that Iraq (who didn’t have WMDs) got invaded whereas North Korea (which does have nukes) just got economic sanctions.   Then later when the Dreaming Celestial goes nuts, he says not to bother calling the Avengers because if his Extinction Team can’t manage the problem, what are Cap and Hawkeye going to do?  Totally badass and he’s right!

3.  Also deals with other mutants on Utopia.  This was great too.  While we thankfully didn’t dwell on these other mutants, it was nice to see that everyone has a role on Cyclops’ team.  There’s the science team, the security team, the street team, the clean-up crew and Hope’s crew.  Each has distinct jobs and the young mutants like Loa and Surge get folded in wherever they make sense as part of their training.

4.  The dreaming Celestial.  I recently reread Uncanny X-Men #512 (featuring wonderful art by Yannick Paquette).  This was the one where Beast’s science team went back in time to collect samples from Dr. Nemesis’ parents.  At the end of the story, the X-Men have to jump back to the future and they ask Nemesis’ mother to bury the samples in the park.  When they get to the present day and go to dig them up, they find that the Dreaming Celestial is standing on them.  Hmmm…  Maybe that isn’t a coincidence???  Well, I’d wondered when someone was going to return to that wonderful teaser of a story, but it looks like we might be getting that here.  Although one does wonder why Nemesis wouldn’t have asked the X-Men to be on the lookout for some blood samples.

5. Very “meh” art.  Emma Frost with stringy hair?  I don’t think so.  And there are a few places where the storytelling is just sub-par, like when a lady gets her neck snapped the only indication of the snapping is the word “SNAP” since her head isn’t twisted or anything.  This isn’t an art disaster, but after the masterpiece that Chris Bachalo gave us last week on Wolverine and the X-Men this was a really a so-so effort.  There’s nothing to please folks who are seriously into comic sequential art fans.  It’s like the X-group is too content to have “average” art.  The coloring wasn’t doing this issue any favors either.  Too much of that digitally highlighted stuff for me.

Conclusion: A pretty good start to a new series.  I’m not personally much of a Sinister fan, but I’m in the minority there and he’s certainly got enough gravity to kick off the first story of the relaunch.  Gillen has found a good tone for this series and writes all the characters well, but you can’t get an “A” from me without better art.

Grade: B

-Dean Stell

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16 Responses

  1. Pacheco’s art isn’t eye popping, but it doesn’t drag the storytelling down either like, say, Bachalo’s. With Bachalo, half the time you are trying to figure out what the heck the scene represents. “Extiction team” sounds stupid, and thankfully Sinister doesn’t look like a drag queen anymore. Overall a good issue.

    • I’ll agree with you that Pacheco is just kinda getting the job done. For the most part, his storytelling is pretty spot on. I just want to see more.

      Just curious…..I can accept Bachalo not being everyone’s favorite, so who are some of your favorite artists?

  2. I haven’t made it to the LCS yet and I’m really not sure if I”m going to be picking it up.

    The art is a big factor. Carlos Pacheco is fairly blah to me, but far, far moreso when he’s colored by D’Armata, who should be legally bound to only ever color Larroca. Then there’s the fact that Greg Land is lurking just around the corner…

    I don’t know, I think a big part of it, strangely, has to do with just how much I LOVED Wolverine and the X-Men. That book just reminded me of how much of what I loved about the X-Men as a kid was missing from Uncanny and now, looking at this book, I just really, really don’t want to go back to Utopia to battle aliens or whatever now that I’ve been to the Jean Grey School. It feels like leaving this new thing that I love for the thing that’s been dragging on.

    Granted, it doesn’t help that I’m not wild about Uncanny’s cast. Other than Emma and MAYBE Scott, the cast for this book does nothing for me.

    That said, I generally really like Kieron Gillen and I like his shrinking down the roster to a legit, manageable TEAM (the unwieldy, massive cast was a big problem for Fraction’s run, imo)….it’s just unfortunate that I don’t give a rat’s ass about most of that team.

    So yeah, not sure what to do. I love Gillen, love his ideas here, but I’m sick of Utopia, am ambivalent about the roster, and either am apathetic or downright hateful about the art.

    If it were $2.99, I’d probably do it, but at $3.99…I think that might be the deciding factor.

    • You could also just wait and see if its great or not. You can always order these comics from some place like mycomicshop.com or pick up a run off eBay or get them digitally and even save money.

      This had a pretty good story and Pacheco’s art just wasn’t up to the task. That isn’t to say he sucked or anything, it’s just that Gillen wrote a script that COULD have resulted in a “A” or 5-stars or however you want to grade things, but Pacheco just did an average job. So, it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.

      • That’s probably what I’ll end up doing.

        Other than the power level, what’s the vibe you’re getting from this team’s roster, as far as dynamics and Gillen’s portrayals go?

        • Oh….it’s very much “This is the most powerful team in the world” and reminder of how Cyclops isn’t going to put up with any bullshit of governments condoning violence against mutants. I think Gillen has all the characters pretty spot-on too,

  3. I really liked this book, and I have had trouble getting into any of the X-titles for a few years now. This month I picked up Astonishing, Wolverine and pals, and now Uncanny…and all three were enjoyable for different reasons.

    The thing that bugs me is the artwork for Wolverine+. I guess the cartoony style fits a book that shares its name with a failed animated series…and is written somewhat comedic…but I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. It was just OK in my opinion.

    But wow…Uncanny is really exciting. The team almost seems TOO powerful and I can look past the cheesy Mr. Sinister opposition because I feel like a team with this many villains on it is probably going to have to run into some new baddies. Not only that, but said baddies are going to have to be real BIG baddies. Can’t wait to see what Marvel (the leader in iconic villain creation) has in store for us here.

    • Really….people not liking Bachalo? This is surely a sign of the apocalypse being nigh.

      Part of it is personal preference. I just don’t care for realistic art (for the most part) because I don’t see the point. If I want people who look realistic, I’d watch a TV show or movie. I just don’t think realistic art exploits the comic medium very well.

      And, when you get to the cartoony guys, the best right now are Bachalo and Ramos (Khary Randolph has chops too).

      • There are alot of people who hate Bachalo’s art. Why I have no idea. I personally enjoy it let the haters hate.

        • And, in fairness…..our commenter above didn’t say he hated Bachalo. That is a funny thing about the internet that it makes it hard for things to not be either AWESOME or SHIT!

          And, I know this stuff is subjective as hell. I just figure that over time, I’ve written enough reviews that readers kinda know what type of art I like and can react accordingly.

          • I definitely don’t hate Bachalo or his art. I also don’t like comic art to be too realistic because that becomes boring. At the same time, though, I don’t like artwork that’s so cartoony that it becomes a distraction. To each his own.

            You’ll have to forgive me for not knowing what type of art you’re into. I just discovered this site this week. So far, I’ve found your reviews to be very helpful and entertaining.

            • Oh, no need to ask forgiveness. :) I was mostly just saying that it isn’t that I’ve written so many reviews that I know better, but that I’ve written enough that my opinions are pretty well known and I think there’s some value there even for folks who disagree with me.

              Glad you found the site. We’ve obviously smaller than some of the bigger places like CBG or IGN, but I think we do as good or better and we don’t stray into that territory where we reprint the same press releases that everyone else is reprinting. :)

  4. I love Sinister. He’s my favourite villain in the Marvel U. However, I found UXM #1 did not give him any justice at all, and I’m wondering which direction Gillen is taking him. But Gillen has done so well with everything else, I’m actually looking forward to this change.

    This is definitely a more adult title. What surprises me too is how Pacheco/D’Armata closely resembles the Land/Ponsor artwork in the prior issues of UXM. Obviously Pacheco isn’t photo referencing to the level Land was.

    It’s just that, as soon as I opened the cover to UXM there was the “character intro” page. Immediately, I turned to the cover of the book again and made sure that Land wasn’t back on the title.

    Regardless, I’m loving how this Regenesis is turning out thus far. It’s turned out to be a lot of fun so far.

    • Is Land coming back to do alternate arcs again? I kinda think he might be.

      You’re right about Regenesis though. Just having distinct team line-ups is a HUGE plus.

  5. I like Gillen a lot but campy Sinister is a dull first storyline. Reforming the world in his image feels a little too Dark Angel saga for my tastes, too. I’ll stick it out.

    • I said above that I really don’t like Sinister much, but it seems like every time I mention that as a reason to grade a comic low I get booed and hissed, so he has his fans out there.

      My general complaint with superhero villains generally is that I HATE this concept that superheroes have a “rogues gallery” because I don’t like watching the same heroes fighting the same villains for decades at a time. Over time, the villains become just as static as the heroes and just as immune from death. I’d much rather see a new villain for 99% of comic stories.

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