UNCANNY X-MEN #2
Picking up swiftly from last issue, the X-Men barely have time to recover from personal events when the world outside simply goes crazy. And so even as they struggle with their own internal dramas they must yet again save a world that hates and fears them. As they set off on a two fold mission, Beast heads out on his own investigation and a face from the past comes knocking at the door. Even with as many X-Men present for what is coming, will it be enough to take on what could be the biggest challenge yet unfolding around them?
Story: With the second cliffhanger in as many issues this is shaping up to be a convincing page turner and is so far becoming a truly intriguing story as the pace is picking up well, with yet another powerful player added to the mix. First Apocalypse and now with the revelation of just who has come home, can disaster be far behind? We all know what this is leading up to and we all have our suspicions as to who is the cause and you’d have to be living under a rock not to know what is coming in #10. But as to how we get there and what the motivation is? That’s the key factor here and I for one am loving the journey. I have to say that to me this whole saga has so far all been laid out completely logically and not once was I left confused as to the action taking place and who was where and doing what, even as the team reshuffles right as the drama kicks off. Which is more than can be said for the characters themselves. Their differing reactions to who was to face the dinosaurs was in equal parts hilarious and also insightful, given the comments of either sheer ambivalence at not getting the opportunity, or the offhand comments as to when fighting dinosaurs could become almost commonplace to them. And of course dinosaurs gives the very familiar feeling of the Claremont era, as we all know he has a fascination for them, which frankly bordered on the uncomfortable at times.
The occasional joke between Jean and Bobby also gave us a feel of the Whedons and was of course equal parts heart warming and reassuring and gave that air of respectability and tradition to the whole affair and that is no bad thing. Even in the heart of madness and strife the X-Men can have a few moments of levity and joking, ensuring they are consummate on the job professionals who know what they are doing, even in the most chaotic of situations. They have seen it all and come back fighting every single time. We wouldn’t have it any other way or see them on the back foot whatever the case. I also felt the Laura mealtime was totally in keeping as well. That ‘wait for it’ moment was blatantly obvious but still completely necessary. Much like the last issue when the MLF realised they had bitten off more than they could chew with her, so did the T-Rex here, quite literally.
I also thought it was interesting having the different events from around the world being shown on screen with the other teams of heroes involved. Although with the Avengers, Champions and then even Winter Guard being namedropped before the term “other groups” being mentioned and Captain Britain clearly shown on screen, suddenly I was left thinking “What IS his team called now?” And then with Betsy half wishing she could join Brian in good ol’ England fighting a shark, a little voice in the back of my head whispered…”Excalibuuuuuur”. It isn’t often we get a passing remark about these siblings unless they actually come face to face, which is making me wonder if that is soon to be on the cards somehow. And with recent news of Kylun being brought back as trainer for Nightcrawler I have to wonder what’s going on here.
My only niggle story wise was the moment when the X-Men confront Madrox at his family farmhouse, or at least I’m assuming that’s where he is, as originally that was Lawrenceville and now the X-Men are in Russell Springs, but both are in Kansas so it’s a safe bet. That wasn’t what niggled me however. It was simply because for me it had a slight echo of that annoying moment in Matrix Reloaded when Neo and the Architect have their overly long and convoluted chat and the screens of multiple Neo’s start arguing with each other. Jamie fighting with himself is nothing new and the recent mini series gave testament to the fact that things aren’t right with him. But the commenting from Betsy and Sam that this had always been the case with him didn’t immediately ring true to me. When in the long term past was he ever considered “not normal” even within the confines of the X-Men? Aside from his now second return from the dead and all the time travelling and absorbing baby Sean he has always been at least fairly consistent…. Wait, I just heard all that again in my head. Never mind. He is the epitome of strange.
Art: Given the vast array of characters on show here it could easily have run the risk of suffering from an overabundance of unrecognisable bodies in a confusing tangle of events, especially with an army of Madri. But despite a couple of instances of odd shaped faces, Jubilele in particular, R.B. Silva manages to create the world the X-Men live in so comfortably and ensure no one is lost in the mix and with Adriano Di Benedetto fine tuning facial expressions with the inks it ensures some clean delineations in the crowded scenery as well as emotional impact and drama. And Rachelle Rosenberg also fleshes out the characters beautifully with some convincing flesh tones and shading, especially in the scenes where the X-Men decide who is going where and watching world events unfold in front of them. As the two teams discuss setting off on their different missions I felt this was finally looking to be what the X-Men need to be and have different team ups to counter different events occurring at the same time, like a team of firefighters each tackling a different emergency.
Characters: It isn’t often we get a story that encapsulates the X-Men as a whole and doesn’t just target one branch of the family. In the past we have had crossovers that have been split into different subsets within several books, such as the three tales of Generation Next, Life Signs and Final Sanction that encapsulated the Phalanx Covenant arc, all taking place within a dizzying seven titles. And much like that iconic story and all the other crossovers that came before, this is a huge undertaking. So that should be taken into consideration when we realise this all occurs in ONE BOOK, making this no small feat for the creative talent involved. And the fact that this story involves so many different X-Men (not including Madrox who could form a crowd on his own) it could almost make it necessary to form a spreadsheet just to keep tabs on who is doing what. Especially with Hank sloping off to do his own detective work as police stand around badmouthing mutants.
Under ordinary circumstances all of this could be a problem and inevitably fans will of course be complaining about the omission of their favorite X-Man or certain characters being thrown to the background, but the creative talent involved do an admirable job of including as many as is humanly possible. And even highlighting it themselves yet again, with the statement from Armor about the frustrations of the younger team, with the finale of this issue also making it abundantly clear the kids are also going to be taking part in what follows as well. And the writing team are even making it tremendously easy for me to believe this is a natural follow on from X-Men Red, with Jean seamlessly taking control after the event of Kitty going missing and everyone just naturally falling in line.
Much like Extermination and Phoenix Resurrection events this is a story with far reaching implications, with threats coming from all angles. This is no surprise given that the creative talent were almost all involved in those two landmark stories. And given the experience of the likes of Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson and Matthew Rosenberg we are clearly in safe hands. Coupled with the finale of Astonishing the same week, which gave the definitive time frame stating the absence of Rogue and Gambit, the death of Cable and the missing New Mutants, there is a clear indication the lines are being drawn and everyone is assembling ready for the big shake up. While there are grumblings among fan already fed up with yet another reboot, there is something decidedly different going on here. This isn’t one small group of five or six X-Men doing their own thing based on repercussions of past events. This isn’t even an event aimed specifically at them alone, that doesn’t immediately involve the outside world. This is a catastrophic world event for all to see that affects everyone and the vast majority of the X-Men are front and center in the thick of it all trying to do what they do best and protect a world that hates and fears them. What more can we ask of them?
Finally the cover by Leinil Francis Yu & Edgar Delgado showing the Madri taking on the roles of the X-Men of the previous cover may seem at first glance like just a lazy copy, but it hides the fact that for all the many versions of him we see, he is not the focus of the story, just a consequence of the drama and still a mystery as to his place in things to come.
This isn’t Mojo Worldwide story, which was just homage fodder with no longer lasting implications. This is refocusing and redefining the X-Men. A mammoth undertaking that is already shaping up to create ripples that will have far reaching implications for the future. Ten weeks is a long time to wait, but it’s beginning to become worth it.
Uncanny X-Men #2 Madrox Reloaded
Writing - 8/10
Storyline - 8/10
Art - 7/10
Color - 8/10
Cover Art - 8/10
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