Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Uncanny X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis, Volume 1

It occurred to me that if I chose to start reading this title before All-New X-Men (which I had just consumed last September) then I would be even more critical about The Uncanny X-Men. Written both by Brian Michael Bendis, these two series can be read side by side together since a lot of their scenes do tend to overlap, particularly by TUM's fourth issue where a certain key scene appears much more notably in ANXM issues #10-11. 

I think this had to be my main concern about The Uncanny X-Men. There is so much material that could have been explored here, but Bendis' first five issues for this title were too reliant on his other series which in turn became a disadvantage to The Uncanny X-Men's storytelling framework. If you chose to pick up this title without reading All-New X-Men then pertinent information such as the introduction of the mutant recruits Eva, Christopher and Benjamin, who all appeared first in AXM where the first bouts of their mutation manifested. 

But this wasn't the only glaring flaw for this series.

Illustrated by Chris Bachalo, the first volume of TUM entitled Revolution was really not as terrible as I hoped it would be, considering most of the lukewarm reviews I've encountered online last year. Perhaps it's because I was already familiar enough with what was going on since the events in this first volume where loosely tied with whatever was happening with All-New X-Men, which is exactly why someone who has only read this title without the other might find it infuriating, and they have every right to be. While reading, I decided to separate myself from what I know about ANXM so as I re-examined the content over in UXM alone, it occurred to me that there is a lack of cohesive structure for each installment because everything felt either rushed or sluggish. We barely get to know the new mutants Cyclops recruited, and when the title finally tried to establish itself as a standalone piece from ANXM, it delivered a mediocre story concerning Limbo and Magick, and some whatsitsface demon creature which she had to fight...or some shit. It really wasn't that interesting so I was eager to move on.

What I considered at least acceptably compelling about this first volume was the fact that we get to see Cyclops, Emma Frost and Magneto at their weakest point yet. These are three of the most formidable mutant warriors and now their powers are all broken, and they have to adjust to their sudden lack of control over them. And that only means one thing for me: Scott Summers--in the aftermath of being possessed by the Phoenix force, finally had his worst nightmare come true: he had no control over his power which makes it very dangerous for him and the people he is close with especially when he is so adamant in training and helping the new recruits. Emma Frost is also suffering identity crisis, no longer the White Queen who can flip through people's minds like they're just pages in a book she had no qualms exploring. Now she's busy playing the blame game for her situation. Meanwhile, the master of magnetism is also struggling because his magnetic hold has weakened somewhat. In the first issue, we saw him conspiring with Director Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D to bring down Cyclops by pretending to work with him but was actually backstabbing him. I was all on-board for this because, accident or not, Scott Summers did murder Charles Xavier, Mags' longtime frenemy and open-secret lover. What I wasn't on-board for was that Mags was actually just screwing around with S.H.I.E.L.D and is truly on Cyclops' side. Um, what? Hold the Satanic Bible, that's the most unbelievable plot point EVER! I CALL BULLSHIT, sir!

Marvel, have you forgotten that Charles Xavier was the love of Erik Lehnsherr's life? How could he possibly and easily forgive the man who murdered said best friend, let alone help him in any way he can? Goddammit, if this wasn't a triple-cross in the end where it was revealed that Mags is indeed just faking the faking of his cooperation with S.H.I.E.L.D and is actually planning on destroying Cyclops to avenge Xavier once and for-- then I WILL LOSE IT. I swear to Loki! I don't buy Mags' fealty to Cyclops. He never liked Cyke, let alone be willing to stand with him to fight for the same things. The more I focus on this, the mightier my self-righteous rage gets. For fuck's sake, Bendis, pick up a late eighties or nineties X-Men and see for yourself how potent the love and devotion Xavier and Magneto have for each other, and why it will never make sense for Mags to just turn his back from that. Anyway, what else is there to say about this first volume?

Well, aside from that complaint, I don't really have strong feelings of dislike towards this. I was fine with the first five issues. Reading it really did feel an incomplete experience if you haven't read ANXM yet, but other than that, I want to see the continuous fall from grace of Scott Summers, Emma Frost struggling to re-define herself, and Magneto eventually revealing that he was working with S.H.I.E.L.D after all. I'm also looking forward in getting to know the youngsters better especially with Warren in the mix. But I don't have high hopes. I was told by plenty of people that this series wasn't that great which was why I'm going to review this by volume as oppose to individual issues. That is reserved for reviewing X-Men Vol IV by Brian Wood, mind you! I heard that title has all my favorite ladies at!


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