by Kieron Gillen (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Cam Smith (inks), Guru eFx (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)
The Story: The X-Men team up with the Avengers to round up escaped prisoners from the Peak.
The Review: I remember during Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny that whenever Greg Land’s arc ended and the Dodsons returned, I always let out a big sigh of relief. While Land’s last outing actually wasn’t too bad, I expected to get that similar feeling of comfort and relief with the return of Carlos Pacheco and yet….that didn’t happen.
Pacheco delivers a completely mediocre, forgettable, and unremarkable performance. There aren’t any major errors to hang onto, it’s just so utterly and completely average with no one moment that truly impresses. Also, while there are no major problems, there are minor quibbles: Pacheco’s illustration of Emma’s face seemed off throughout the issue, Agent Brand’s breasts were conspicuously ginormous, and Pacheco struggled a bit to capture the specificities of some of the scenes Gillen narrates in the issue’s montages.
While Pacheco’s art may be underwhelming, this is a solid enough outing by Gillen. He introduces a new villain, Unit, who really lets Gillen play to his strengths in writing dialogue. Unit is arrogant, smarmy, and well-spoken, yet also cold and calculated. Gillen gives him a voice that is full of personality and character yet also chilling and, despite that arrogant quality, slightly inhuman. Suffice it to say, with his ear for dialogue, Gillen writes great villains and Unit gives him a stage to really show that.
The opening few pages are also very strong, focusing on Colossus’ complicated relationship and emotions towards his sister Magik and her somewhat odd position. It’s easy to write Colossus very blandly, but Gillen succeeds with having Colossus narrate these scenes with true sincerity that really pulls you to empathize with the character. It feels meaningful and actually made me care for the predicament of a character I’m usually a bit ambivalent towards.
Where Gillen’s script falls down a bit is when he starts to pull in other teams. Bringing in more players and making the story bigger draws the focus away from his script’s strengths, which are his dialogue and character-work. The result is a kind of pulling away from the issue’s strengths. Moreover, Gillen’s handling of those teams leaves something to be desired – the Avengers/X-Men team up only leads to a confused, overwritten, and somewhat clumsy two-page montage that feels incoherent. Meanwhile, Generation Hope team show up for no reason other than to get beat up by Unit. They may as well have not even shown up.
Conclusion: Not a bad issue, but it’s weighed down by forgettable artwork that merely gets the job done.