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Review of Uncanny X-Men 502 (2.5 stars) October 2, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews.
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Overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

More near-mediocrity from Fraction and Brubaker, and more crap from Land is the best way to describe this issue. Let’s start with the true crap first, namely, Land’s art. Now, I know I’ve linked to this before, but Land’s tracing and recycling isn’t the only thing that makes him a bad artist. There’re also occurrences such as these:

Big, beefy, muscular men are part of the genre, and I’ve come to accept that. But what the crap is up with Logan’s arm? It’s already muscular-looking enough, why did Land have to include what looks like a tumor growing out of where his elbow bends? Seriously, that doesn’t make any sense anatomically at all. That big bulge spreads over where his elbow bends? How does he even bend it? Here is another “weird body incidence:”

Likewise, I’ve also come to accept that well-endowed, impossibly skinny women are part of the genre, but her torso being thicker than her hips? That’s not even the “perfect hourglass figure,” that’s an upside-down pear figure! (I’m not even going to comment on her annoying info box and dialogue in this panel.) Add to these the crazy looking smiles that almost everyone wears and the fact that the “Red Queen” is probably the most ridiculous looking villainess I’ve seen, and you’ve got some grade-A Land-crap.

Luckily the story isn’t horrible. We make some more discoveries about the Hellfire cult, we get a decent fight, and the majority of the character interactions are amusing. (I’m glad that Fraction and Brubaker have decided to include the camaraderie and humor that they have, it’s truly what is keeping this title afloat at the moment.) The only part that I dislike is pretty much any scene featuring Pixie. She’s annoyed me ever since the Free Comic Book Day issue starring her, and now, she seems to star in Uncanny as well. This book would be so much better if she just left the team. (Well, maybe.)

Mehh, I realize this may sound a bit harsh as a review. This issue really wasn’t that bad. But everyone once in a while, you’ve gotta vent, and this was the opportunity I chose. If you aren’t already reading Uncanny, I can’t honestly recommend picking it up, but for those of us who are, at least there’s worse things we could be reading, and besides, we only have to endure Land for another issue or two.

-LOTRKing

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Review of Uncanny X-Men 501 (3 stars) August 21, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is genius. Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man is the must read new series of the year. When the two collaborated together on Immortal Iron Fist, they took a character with only a small cult following and made one of the most fan-loved books on the market. So when the two of them united on Uncanny X-Men, the flagship title of the most famous super-team in the world, their success should have guaranteed, right? So far, the last two issues have surprisingly showed the contrary.

My first problem is simple: between Greg Land’s art and the condescending narration boxes, I feel this book is marketed to the young teen crowd. Don’t get me wrong, the world could always use another comic book reader, and if something is thrown in to appeal to a certain group, I’m usually fine with it. But this entire issue sounded like a young teen novel. Likewise, I can’t fully put my finger on it, but all the art seemed kind of, I dunno, pose-ish? Way too many convenient poses in too many panels. (A cool “pose-panel” or two included in an issue can provide for some memorable art, but when everyone always seems to strike a pose, things get a little silly.) Of course, all of this may have something to do with Land’s “unique” way of doing his pencils, as displayed here.

Second, I dunno, the story doesn’t really feel all too compelling. First, Pixie gets beaten up by an anti-mutant group. Then most of the rest of the issue is more of the X-Men saying how great things are now, then we see a brief meeting of the group that beat up Pixie (the Hellfire Club), before the X-Men finally (within the last three pages) go out and do something (in this case, attempt to catch the Hellfire Club). Oh and, I have no idea who the Red Queen is, but why was her one line of dialogue one of the worst I’ve ever read, and why the heck was she dressed like that? (Not to mention while striking another annoying pose.)

Don’t get me wrong, despite these complaints, there were a few redeeming parts to this issue (some fun humor in the X-Men commons room, the majority of the dialogue was well written, Land managed a few cool art panels), and most of it wasn’t pure suckage. Its main problem is that it is no where near as good as it should be coming from Brubaker and Fraction. Hopefully they’ll be able to turn the story around soon, and with any luck Land will leave the book ASAP.

-LOTRKing

Review of Astonishing X-Men 26 (4 stars) August 13, 2008

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Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First off, I love the cover. Bianchi’s interpretation of Beast is a thousand times better than many of the recent ones I’ve seen. Almost everyone else makes him look like a walking cat. But while I enjoy the cover, I have to wonder, why does it feature Beast when this issue does not? Mehh, oh well.

The story picks up in Chaparanga, the “spaceship graveyard.” While the entirety of the issue is about the X-Men dealing with the “triploid” they’ve tracked there, it still manages to be a great read, due largely to the characters and the art. Ellis continues his mastery of being able to provide distinctness to each character. As an example of his work, up until last issue, I had only ever heard of Armor, now I already think she is a very interesting character. Likewise, Ellis’ is finally able to relate to us why Cyclops will sometimes resort to killing. I’ve heard that he has ordered a kill or two recently in other X-books, and fans have been complaining that he was acting out of character. Well, if you want an answer, you’ll find it here.

“Team Simone and Simone” continue to do a spectacular job in the art department. Every panel looks like a painting and every character looks great. I’m not sure whose work I enjoy more: Bianchi’s pencils that convey the many actions scene of this issue, as well as make each character individual, or Peruzzi’s colors which give the book a beautiful tone, and create the painted look mentioned earlier. Either way, Astonishing X-Men has to be one of the most beautiful books on the market.

Going back to the plot, as the X-Men find the triploid, he is trying to power up a dead ship. As he begins to do so, the power source looks like some kind of mechanical cube (like a Borg Cube, but much smaller), but perhaps the more odd part, as it powers up, what looks like miniature Roman columns, and even beings that resemble miniature Dr. Manhattans appear around the cube. This confused me more than anything else this issue, and I hope we learn the story behind the columns and “mini-men,” and that they weren’t just an element that looked sci-fi-y and cool. One other mystery introduced is “The Annex.” Just as the X-Men are about to capture the triploid, he remarks that they cannot stop “The Annex” and then commits suicide. While The Annex are likely the creators of the triploids, I wonder what their purpose was in creating them. Also, what do they need in space? This mystery keeps getting better and better, and I’ll definitely stick around to find out what happens next.

-LOTRKing

Review of Uncanny X-Men 500 (3 stars) July 25, 2008

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Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My review can be found here (first one posted).

Quick spoilers: The X-Men have relocated to San Francisco. A collector there has purchased decommissioned Sentinels and is displaying them as “art.” The X-Men investigate and Magneto, seemingly re-powered, attacks and reactivates the Sentinels. The X-Men defeat him and realize he was only wearing a high-tech suit to give him power. Magneto escapes and discusses these events with a secret, sinister cabal. Scott and Emma send a telepathic message that San Francisco is now a safe-haven for mutants and their allies and that all are welcome at the new X-base.

-LOTRKing