Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Uncanny X-Men, Volume 1: Revolution Review (Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo)


All-New X-Men has a storyline where original X-Men are brought to our present and acclimate to the strange new world as present day X-Men deal with the events of Avengers Vs X-Men; Wolverine and the X-Men has a storyline where Wolverine starts a new school in the style of Xavier’s original and comedic shenanigans ensue. Both of these series are successful in their own way - they have storylines that enable them to drive forward with plot or slow things down and let the characters mingle with one another to great effect. They not only have options but ideas and fresh new takes on classic characters.


Uncanny X-men - this series’ storyline sees Cyclops and his group of mutant rebels recruiting new mutants for their own school. On the face of it, it should be a good series like the other two big X-titles but it’s not. For a start, they only recruit one new mutant in the entire book - Fabio Medina aka Goldballs. I’m not going to complain about this character because I think he’s amazing - really. Goldballs: the dude manifests and fires golden volleyballs(I think?). Love it! I’ll bet dollars to donuts Jason Aaron brainstormed that for inclusion in his own series and Marvel gave it to Bendis because it fit in with Uncanny’s storyline more.


What else - they fight some Sentinels, which is your basic template for an X-story; the Avengers show up (and I had this creeping sense of deja vu that we were going to see more of that crud known as AVX but thankfully didn’t); Scott and co. briefly visit the Jean Grey school. Besides the Sentinels, they don’t fight anyone - they just meet characters, talk about how Scott killed Xavier, and they walk away. What is this series’ storyline? Scott being the leader of a new mutant revolution. So why don’t we see any of that being developed? Why are these characters wandering around aimlessly when they have a very clear and well-defined purpose? I see the phrase “glacial pace” used in a lot of reviews of this book and it’s completely apt - this book is sooooooo slow! And BORING! It took me no less than six attempts to get through this book, I just kept finding reasons to put it down and do anything other than read it!


The rotten carcass of AVX hangs over this book as characters recoil in dismay at Scott - the murderer of Charles Xavier! - and the scene where Scott rebuts accusations of murder becomes so utterly tiresome as it repeats over and over here. Meanwhile the Phoenix Force has left their powers weakened and warped to the point that Scott, Emma and Erik - once among the most powerful mutants in the world - can now barely control what little powers they have left. This might be interesting but what it really amounts to is characters standing around repeating they have no powers and they hate it. So this is Uncanny X-Men: the mutant revolution is Goldballs, Scott denies killing Xavier ad nauseum, and the others stand around wishing they had powers while doing nothing. Revolution? More like stagnation!


Maybe this is Bendis channeling Claremont’s ‘80s X-Men series where the comics were packed with dialogue and exposition - but at least in Claremont’s comics things happened! Days of Future Past was two issues! In a single issue of Claremont’s X-Men you had tons of things happening - in this book, collecting five issues, barely anything happens.


(And this is an aside but how does Cyclops’ new mask work? It’s an X - I don’t see a visor. Is he wearing special contacts or something?)


I hated Chris Bachalo’s art in this. There are so many characters that he’s resorted to having almost the same layout each time to incorporate all of Bendis’ dialogue - large panel, characters standing around, hands on hips, dialogue balloons of Bendis’ nonsense filling the page. If that wasn’t bad enough he’s also the colourist on this book and proves why having separate colourists are a good thing by colouring the entire book in flat, dreary colours that look monochromatic at times - at least the dull art style matches the script! The whole time I was wishing Dave Stewart or Matt Hollingsworth had done the colours and given the book some style and a look.

Maybe Bendis is doing too many titles at the moment and Uncanny X-Men is his pit-stop, a place where he can relax, write any old gibberish and pass it off as a viable comic. This series should be far better than it is - Scott should be doing something to justify his ridiculous new status as a revolutionary leader (even among the non-mutants!) but Bendis does nothing to develop this exciting angle. I’m sure die-hard X-Men fans who just enjoy reading Bendis’ often trite dialogue using their favourite characters will love this, but for everyone else looking for a good story, a fresh idea, anything remotely intellectually stimulating, won’t find it here. 

Uncanny X-Men - Volume 1: Revolution

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