Thursday, 14 February 2013

New Beginnings - Uncanny X-Men #1 (Marvel Now)

In Bendis we trust... but do we? Or should we? Well it’s certainly a question that I asked myself when I saw his name on the cover of this week’s issue for review. I’m not saying that I don’t like his work but he is definitely a mainstay over at the House Of Ideas these days and his Avengers run had certainly started to feel like it was drying out by the end.

So with the most open mind I could muster I opened the cover on Uncanny X-Men #1.

Now from the word go there are a couple of things worth mentioning. Firstly if you have missed out on the whole AvX arc Marvel gave us, but know of the X-Men before this, then things could get a little confusing as there are more changes than just the physical image of Cyclops. Both the political and emotional stance he now takes and represents are different. Gone is the blue suit, with yellow stripe and the red visor. Instead there is a far darker, more sinister black and red suit very much in the forefront. It’s edge is slightly taken away by the Ben 10 Omnitrix style watch but you can overlook that. Conversely we see Magneto now presented in a saintly white costume and Emma Frost has also turned to the dark side of the wardrobe.

If, on the other hand, you are a completely new reader then you will have missed out on all of the back
story and personal change that has occurred to bring us to this point. However the changes were mostly completed before this issue begins, so you could come into it all fresh and learn as you go, I just fear it might not have the same resonance.

Now I know it seems that I have spent a disproportionate time talking already about Scott but this is because he is the total centre of attention in this issue, and quite rightly so too. The story is told almost from a narrative point of view by a mostly unknown character (although you can figure it out quite quickly) who has descended upon S.H.I.E.L.D. in an effort to provide intel over the biggest threat that they have known for and against mutantkind - Scott Summers himself.

Through the retelling of a recent mutant emergence incident we learn why as well. His involvement with the Pheonix Force has left him broken in more ways than one including his grasp on his own mutant abilities.

Aside from unveiling the new Cyclops the story is very much about introducing the new team. Many will know Magik, Emma and Magnus but they have all changed and have their own new flaws. For those who have read the preceding issues of All New X-Men you will recognise Tempus but maybe not so much the new unnamed healer on the crew.

This all also leads up to the *shock* reveal that the new source for S.H.I.E.L.D. is none other than Magneto himself, whose concern and belief in his original motives have lead him down this path. I was left wondering if Bendis has left a snake in the new team to mix things up, and what Magneto's motivation will lead him to do next. Personally it looks as though there is a very large precipice that Scott is heading towards, but only time will tell.

Chris Bachalo has been handed the pencils to this issue, including the cover art for consistency, although there are numerous variant covers from the usual suspects like Skottie Young, Joe Quesada and Stuart Immonen. I’ve liked the art in the issue. It’s got a good mix of detail but also soft line work in there as well. That said there is a lot conveyed in the faces of the characters, which adds yet another level to the story too. It seems to me that judging by the faces there is more to the team than is let on in this first issue.

I have to admit some of the personal re-imagining has caught me off guard a little but that is always to be expected with something new.

It’s fairly well known from my previous reviews that X-Men isn’t really a title I tend to follow but as this is breaking from the norm and reinventing the scenario I have to admit that I’ve liked it and this is a title that I could happily follow. My one regret is that I now feel I don’t know enough having missed all of the AvX event. That said it shouldn’t stop new and old fans jumping on board.

Matt Puddy is surprisingly informed regarding Ben 10.

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