Friday, November 27, 2015

The Uncanny X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis, Volume 3

Well, holy shit. This was just lovely. And spectacular. And I can't believe I chose to individually review issues of Brian Wood's X-Men Vol IV instead of this one because this (with the exception of the first collected volume) IS PHENOMENAL. The good news is that I dropped Wood's series for good because I simply cannot latch onto the characters and his stories emotionally, but I will still continue reviewing Bendis' Uncanny as a volumes instead as individual issues because I have a tighter schedule than I expected for the last two months of this year, and I'm barely able to meet my self-imposed deadlines for comics review. But I always strive to make myself available when certain X-titles like this one prove to be too good to pass up on writing a review for. 

The Good, The Bad and The Inhuman is the third volume of this series comprised of issues #14-18 illustrated by Chris Bachalo, Kris Anka and Mark Rudy. Their stunning visual work for their respective issues has truly made Bendis' writing and character come alive. I especially enjoyed Rudy's composition and overall style in issue #18. His backdrops were simply magnificent to look at. I have never enjoyed viewing a comic book volume like this one, not since, well, Grant Morrison's Batman Incorporated and most of Snyder-Capullo's Batman and Tomasi-Gleason's Batman and Robin. Arguably, this volume has been said to be the most disjointed of the collected ones so far, mostly because all of the issues herein were a series of oneshots. The last issue was where the Original Core Five (OCF) were spirited away to space for that underwhelming arc in Bendis' All-New X-Men called The Trial of Jean Grey which I never liked, to be honest.

But I think that's what made this volume such a refreshing collection. Even though there is no discernible overall arc that hold them together, they work well enough as individual pieces that I could hardly find fault in their collective. 

The first story delved on one of the recruits, Benjamin Deeds who has the ability to shapeshift though his powers are barely comparable to Mystique's. He feels completely out of place and unsure of his purpose in joining the X-Men so Emma Frost decided that this is an opportunity for a teachable moment, and guides him (albeit extremely pushes him to his limits) in owning up to his mutation...and it worked remarkably. Benjamin is an empathic mimicker; he has the ability to mirror people not just physically but psychologically that anyone in his presence feels as if they can trust him. Artist Bachalo captured his transformations quite beautifully in his panels. Once Benjamin finds the confidence in himself to be a hero, he is welcomed back by Scott and the rest of the team, and they named him Morph--which made me "awwwww" so hard because I thought it was a befitting namesake, and a shout-out to the previous Morph who was such an adorkable guy back in the day. I've enjoyed this issue a lot for its ease and sweetness.

Next we have an Inhumanity issue which is only appropriate, seeing as Marvel is determined to usher this new species of super-powered beings into the spotlight and there is a need to address how that can affect the X-Men as well. Also, it was so hilariously endearing that the X-(wo)Men go out on a much needed shopping spree together (as prompted by the Cuckoo triplets and Jean Grey) and ended up crossing paths with an awakened Inhuman. My favorite Inhuman is Kamala Khan, the current Ms. Marvel, and as sad as I am that Marvel plans to eradicate mutants completely from their future storylines, I'm intrigued about the concept of Inhumans so far.

The last two issues were captivating enough since we get to see how well Scott's recruits mesh together as a unit and they have continuously demonstrated how smart, courageous and sensitive they are of each other's needs. Emma and Ilyanna also continue to impress as teachers, and Kitty Pryde certainly found more dependable co-teachers than what she had with Storm and Rachel Grey back in the Jean Grey Higher School of Learning which is pretty sad. Well, Storm and Rachel are busy with their powerplay and their silly adventures in Brian Wood's title that I just mentioned I decidd to drop because it was such a bland series. But Kitty Pryde and the OCF were taken away and this was just after Cyclops has a moment with his younger self and the younger version of first love Jean. He was devastated to lose them, all right.

Now wait, was I forgetting to discuss an issue? Oh, trust me, I left it on purpose because it's the thing I want to discuss the most so I saved it up for last because it's what I've been waiting for since I began reading titles for MARVEL NOW!. And that is no other than a Magneto-centered piece tackling on how he was dealing with things AFTER THE DEATH OF HIS LONG-TIME FRIEND AND RIVAL AND TOTES SECRET LOVER WHOM HE WAS OPENLY PSEUDO- MARRIED TO Charles Xavier whom Scott Summers murdered in 2012 while under the influence of the Phoenix Force in that crossover event Avengers vs X-Men. HOLY SHIT, MARVEL, FINALLY AN ACTUAL PAY-OFF! 

Issue #16 was all about Erik recovering, dealing and reeling from all that he has lost, and not just Xavier. His powers of magnetism haven't been the same since the Phoenix Force turned him into a punching bag during AVX. This wonderfully gritty issue opens with a gathering of humans proclaiming pro-mutant support and yet Magneto is not happy about it. He doesn't get these pro-mutant humans who to his eyes will never understand the struggles of his people. Because of his weakened powers, he instead daydreamed of killing all of them while he was there in the crowd, just seething. Dazzler approached him since both of them are working for S.H.I.E.L.D. I complained about the fact that Mags was just fake-playing it with the double agency with S.H.I.E.L.D, reassuring Scott that he's still on his side because that's a load of fucking bullshit, Marvel. As a devoted shipper of Cherik, I refuse to believe that Magneto has really forgiven Scott for murdering Xavier. It's canonically deceitful. Sure, Mags also said he will never punish Scott because he would hate to give Scott the satisfaction of affirming his guilt and therefore absolving him of being actually responsible for the murder he had committed--but I know Mags is sorely tempted to anyway. So I don't buy his alliance with Scott and his cover-up about working for S.H.I.E.L.D to protect Scott's interests. Hell, I don't think he even cares about the recruits or anyone at this point. He's having a moment of crisis, and Dazzler was quick to pick up on it. Oh, this Dazzler is no other than Mystique in disguise, by the way (she also had a love affair with Xavier before his demise and got pregnant somehow which makes it super weird for me and I still refuse to acknowledge its authenticity). She claimed that perhaps Magneto's weakened powers is PSYCHOSOMATIC. Perhaps, she offers, it's tied with his grieving process. Losing Xavier has made it impossible for him to gain back his powers to its fullest potential because the death of his truest friend is a loss that is so woefully meaningful that his own superior mutation died along with Xavier.


It's been canonically established that Charles Xavier is Magneto's one true love. It doesn't have to be gay. IT DIDN'T NEED TO BE GAY (though, in my opinion, it should be, and it probably is). There is clear evidence stretching back to Claremont in the late seventies that Magneto and Xavier are so devoted to each other regardless of how they just can't compromise about their ideals concerning mutant co-existence/superiority. There have been countless times that Magneto lost Xavier to some accidents in the past and he has mourned each moment of loss like his universe completely fell apart. Now Xavier is finally dead for good and for a long time (four years and counting) and how could anyone who has been reading X-Men avidly be ever led to believe that he is not quietly suffering about it otherwise? BECAUSE HE IS. Mystique saw through it (mostly because she was boning Xavier pre-demise, ugh, this will never stop bugging me), and Mags is finally learning to admit it. I think he has denied it. He has pushed it down and now the floodgates are ready to open.

They were BOOKENDS OF THE SAME SOUL. Without Charles to contrast him, to challenge him to change, to save him, to stop him from making stupid mistakes, to forgive him, to give him hope for a better way, to sustain his dreams, to fuel his passionate crusade, to talk to and play chess with and argue and bicker and come back to and try to fix things with---then WHAT IS MAGNETO'S PURPOSE NOW? Xavier was the one person whom he saw an equal in, someone he can confide his deepest secrets to, pretend to hate out of political reasons, and always, undeniably, learn from. And now that person is dead and Magneto just can't find it in himself to move forward because most of his battles have been so intrinsically tied to this man and if he's not constantly fighting and making up with Xavier then what? What else is worth going on for?

Oh god, oh god. This depth of sadness in my heart deserves an ugly-crying moment from Toby Macguire. Behold the anguish:

I'm so sorry for being emotional about this again. The last time I Cherik-ed was in September, and before that it was May. I have no more fresh Cherik material to agonize on so when I am fanserviced with snippets of this horrendously beautiful friendship, I just crumble into pieces all over again. Magneto is lost and grieving, y'all and Mystique took him to the new mutant haven she built in honor of Xavier and tried to persuade him to join her, Blob, Sabretooth, etc. in maintaining the place. And how did Magneto react to this nice gift of theirs? How did he repay them after they welcomed him warmly to live with them? HE LASHED OUT AND ALMOST KILLED ALL OF THEM. Because nothing, absolutely nothing, can possibly compare and replace that small piece of repose he found in Genosha during Claremont's short-lived Excalibur piece where he and Charles tried to make it work for real this time as partners and self-appointed caretakers. If he can't have that again with the one man he completely trusted and loved, then he certainly will not settle for the second best thing that Mystique offered. He just won't, motherfuckers! Did you guys know that he shaved all his hair too because of Xavier? It's just...unreal how much he misses him!

OH MY GOD GUYS IT'S SO SAD. I know I wished for some Cherik moments again in X-Men comics but goddammit, DOES IT ALWAYS--MUST IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SO PAINFUL ALL. THE. TIME??!!!


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