UNCANNY X-MEN #1
As Jean Grey has a disturbing vision about Jamie Madrox and Kitty Pryde she discovers Kitty has taken the junior X-Men on a mission, which soon finds them in way over their heads. Stumbling into an MLF attack on a lab questions are raised as to the ethics of what they themselves are doing and Kitty goes missing. Meanwhile Storm and Beast witness torrential rain in the Kalihari Desert, which is causing unnatural plant and fish life to flourish. Here's the science bit from Beast...Later as Jean prepares to take the place of the lost Kitty to speak at a rally regarding a mutant vaccine and she is shocked to find Jamie Madrox taking the podium. As an army of duplicates invades the rally the X-Men attempt to protect the senator, who is mysteriously spirited away along with the duplicates. Finally Kitty wakes up in some very undesirable company.
The drama doesn’t end there however as three separate stories all follow on, regarding the three days running up to the Multiple Man Incident. First Bishop encounters Dark Beast on the run, then Sugar Man in hiding and mysteriously killed in front of him by robot attackers. Next Jean meets an old woman with some disturbing opinions, who vanishes while she waits for Storm to meet for coffee, before being attacked by strangely empowered civilians. Then Armor and Anole also catch up with Dark Beast, clearly having just escaped his attackers, seeing him disappear before they are called to the incident above by Jean and Storm. All wrapping up in one huge struggle to survive the day without harming a mass of controlled superpowered civilians.
What I initially took to be an updated version of X-Men Unlimited, based on the sheer heft of the volume, I soon realized was more along the lines of X-Men Alpha from the 90’s. And what a huge undertaking that was in setting up the new era and the seeds of Onslaught. And similarly, this was an epic sprawl of a story which was truly a gargantuan effort on all sides. My first read through was mostly concerned with the sight of who it was in captivity… and wondering just who could have achieved that. Much like the literally groundbreaking and shocking image of Juggernaut thrown down by Onslaught and the horror of the X-Men at the sight, I was a similarly stunned to see this. And also the undercurrent of the narrative was nearly lost on me, as all I was picking up was Jubilee’s comment to Bishop about politicians in suits, which was also kind of on the nose, especially in regards current real world events and politics.
I had been worried about so many different voices involved in the storytelling, but it looks as though they all handled their own segment and managed to tie them in perfectly. So many different people involved in telling one story and each does a great job of pooling their resources and letting individual talent shine, as well as cramming so much action into the narrative that I had to read it twice over just to finally take it all in. Then I had to contend with the dizzying appearance of some of the younger X-Men and the return of Northstar and the multiple gathering of X-Men all back to back and fighting to just make it through the day. Not to mention the new use of Psylocke’s powers, which blew me away if I’m honest. This new/old body finally has the warrior capabilities she always wanted back before the Siege Perilous. And now she has that in spades, as well as I’m assuming keeping her ninja abilities…New Excalibur NOW, please?
The second read through gave me more of a chance to ruminate on the underlying plot as well as the humor in the narrative. Comments like Bishop complaining about hating Jamie and also the junior X-Men mocking Forearm and Oya raising the issue of the younger students being pushed to the background. The tongue in cheek statements on the plane into the fight almost mirroring what people have been saying online about throwing them into the background. Topped off with them arriving at the confrontation with the MLF and Armor calling Wildside a dollar store Wolverine was hilarious. And the MLF thinking they have it all sewn up until they see Laura and realize they have bitten off more than they can chew was so satisfying.
As well as Anole and Armor in their conversation in the sewer, mirroring the discussion about the benching of the younger students, who have already proven themselves in the field. But now we see them all front and center in the thick of it. And while those in the frame are not always the fan favorites they ARE a mixed group that doesn’t conform to the norm, which is what the X-Men have always been about. It’s like the writers have been reading fan responses and adding them in there just to prove they are listening, which is great to see.
With the separate but interlinked ‘What Tomorrow Brings’ stories that follow the main story, there is some great cohesion in there, that each offers their own flavor and yet add a richness to the main event. A Bishop Story with his strange early warning system was an interesting one, playing on his time as a detective and also reminding us that since his arrival he now can no longer tell what is going to happen as the timeline has diverged from his own. A Jean Grey Story, which fleshed out the overreaching arc of the whole thing. An Armor & Anole Story, also feeding heavily into the criticism of fading the newer recruits into the background. And finally the Epilogue, which dovetailed into the tale perfectly and also fed more drama and pathos into the whole story.
This is what it’s always been about for so many years, A huge pool of talent all in the mix in both characters and creators. And what a staggering culmination of events as well as the vast confluence of characters. We have the age old dilemma of the mutant cure, plus some mysterious characters appearing, disappearing and hiding in the shadows, villains of different eras with the mysteriously repowered and in some cases back from the dead MLF. Then the shock of Dark Beast and Sugar Man running scared and an imprisoned Kitty with her cellmates. What can it all mean? With the last of the AOA characters, plus the inclusion of Nate Grey and the new Horsemen of Apocalypse still to come, does this mean a final Age of Apocalypse clean-up? And the mention of Legion as well means the X-Men are going to be pretty busy in the months to come and it’s comforting to know the talent on board is worthy of the task. It seems as though Avengers: No Surrender was just the warm-up, almost a beta test for this event.
Already an epic sprawl with the first issue raising so many more questions than it answers. I’m so glad this is weekly as the suspense waiting for a month could have been killer. Full steam ahead I say.
Uncanny X-Men #1 The Return of The…
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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