UNCANNY X-MEN #18
Still reeling from the death of Rahne the reclusive X-Men now face the departure of Wolverine and lose another Child of the Atom as Jono’s harsh treatment of the Marauders results in a retaliatory harpoon. More retribution awaits them as they retreat to Harry’s, as Sinister destroys their base of operations, before giving himself up. Havok takes stock of his deteriorating condition after the X-Men relocate to a safe house set up by Karma, who reveals she is also leaving. Meanwhile Emma and Mystique spy on them from afar and ascertain how much they know. Just as they discuss their plans the X-Men play directly into their hands as Cyclops calls Mystique directly.
Writing/Story: “I need to keep this together long enough to see it all through”. Right from this opening commentary in the first panel I had to wonder if this is becoming Rosenberg’s own sentiment about the series itself. Given the changes coming is he feeling good about the developments and does he mind? Well his social media and that of other writers in Marvel tell us that they knew all along that this was the game plan, so he can’t be killing off mutants left, right and center for shiggles surely? This is all part of the plan. But people are still assuming that even in death their favorite characters aren’t being done any justice, but with the reshuffle it will all be reset anyway. Right? And so we move on to the actual story and put the controversy behind us. Or do we? Right from the outset the uncertainty is pushed to the forefront with Logan’s revelation that he is leaving.
But is this anything shocking? No, not really. It’s what he does. Despite his so called honor code the man is famous for flaking out and going off on his lone wolf escapades right when things get dicey. The Outback era was full of revolving doors fro him and it’s how he ended up not going through the Siege Perilous in the first place, not to mention his older self doing the same thing in Gold….pauses to clear memory of that travesty… And now coupled with Xian echoing the same sentiment can the end be far behind? Well, yes we know it IS. But how we get there is clearly the big question. And it all goes down in spectacular style. The arrival of the Marauders was a refreshing interlude, though the fiery deaths were a little out of left field and though I suspected Jono had it in him I wasn’t sure it was justified given their protestations and willingness to give themselves up. Bad Jono.
And on to Jono himself. His death? Not so much a shock. Many people had marked his card from the moment he gave Shogo to Callisto, but of course how it happens has made some people a little salty. No surprise there. I myself was more concerned with how he could still speak psychically. Maybe his powers were just in decline and not shut off entirely. That’s what I was getting given how long he took to die, but it still niggled a little. For me having Karma say she was going to pick Shogo up reassured me at least some background characters were being acknowledged. It’s not often writers allude to side characters in the middle of dropping a team of villains into the scenery, then killing them. The scene setting there was also quite fun and a little cinematic in the vein of John Wick or Matrix. And their inclusion was also a sight for sore eyes and the fact Blockbuster was there meant we had something for Juggernaut to do, which was great for me as I had been wondering if he would be a practical addition.
Characters: The Marauders of course will always be followed by Sinister somewhere in the wings, but it felt like an unexpected treat nonetheless. His heartless comment about Jono on arrival was benchmark Essex and wickedly perfect grandstanding as he always manages to pull. Much like Mojo and Arcade he is a hard villain to write with sufficient menace. Too much and it borders on farce, too little and it comes off looking almost benign and foppish. Here he was the right amount of maniacal and yet mysterious and made a threat by this melding together. And the depiction of Sinister ‘gathering himself’ was starkly reminiscent of his multiple personality disorder way back in Uncanny of 2011 and I loved it.
But then what’s this? Giving up? What’s up with that? Like Dark Beast rolling over and playing nice I am sure there’s more going on. Despite all the controversy and offhand I love this team being boiled back down to just a few characters, giving previously small voices a lot more say and moments of introspection with each other. Karma talking to Dani and bearing her soul. Alex and Scott having a brotherly discussion in the aftermath of their confrontation with the Marauders. I am now of course worried about Alex going ghost and wondering just how that even happened. All joking aside we need to address that. Alex is one of my all time favorites and I will not be happy if this reunion with Scott ends in his death.
Art: However I was a little less enthused by the art this issue, especially considering the more than suitable changeover last issue. All the different contributors seemed to clash with each other overall. The only striking scene was the still drama of the Marauders entrance into things in the subway. The depiction of so many puppy dog expressions from Karma was distracting to say the least. And the hints of anime eyes coupled with the scratchy inking lines that tended to overrun the facial expressions of everyone made for bad John Romita Jr comparisons. It also reminded me a little of Chris Wozniak from Excalibur and that was a stark change for me that I did eventually get used to and even like, so who knows, maybe it will grow on me. It has been known to happen.
We weren’t even rewarded with a momentous visual of the bad girls at the end, given who it is that was gracing the pages. It was just okay and hardly worthy of them. No amount of Emma and Mystique lounging around in shady nooks being bad girls could make up for the change when I had just gotten used to the previous replacement of Larocca with Gómez. Emma looked haggard and Mystique almost like Raze in drag. At least Guru-eFX managed to salvage some respect for Emma, giving her some decent muscle tone with the coloring, which at least reminds us she can afford a personal trainer.
Although the cover by Whilce Portacio & Erick Arciniega was exceptional and at least showed them in their full iconic glory. These two together could be a force of nature and something quite formidable (the cover artists or the characters, you can take your pick as to which I mean) The imagery alone is quite striking and I cannot wait to see the pair in action. Keeping their introduction until the final page was to my mind frustrating and cheap given they were on the cover. But I am intrigued to find what they are playing at and happy to wait another couple of weeks nonetheless. Another BIG question I have is just who it is that Malice had possession of here? I’m less concerned about how she came back, as dead Marauders have more comebacks than Jean Grey. Clearly it’s not Polaris, unless someone really skipped a meeting in editorial. My only assumption is it is a random mutant and Malice herself became partial to the hair color. Or else they couldn’t think of an inventive way to show it was Malice. Because the choker was never enough of an indicator before?
Not the best issue overall in the arc. Rosenberg’s writing is at least consistent but the art was distracting and not in a good way.
Uncanny X-Men #18 Sinister Prospects
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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