Or – “The New Bendis Era Begins!”
When Brian Bendis took the reins of the Avengers in two-thousand-whatever, he immediately got things off the ground with a bang, blowing up Avengers Mansion, killing off fan-favorites, and immediately shaking up the status quo by adding new characters to the Avengers mix. It was a thunderbolt from the blue for an admittedly shaky franchise, and brought the Avengers back into the public consciousness for the new century. Now, BMB is ram-rodding a new age for the X-Men franchise, including a new role for the original X-leader, Cyclops. Will they bring ol’ One-Eye back from the depths of AVX? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
UNCANNY X-MEN #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Chris Bachalo
Inker(s): Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey
Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: Something something Phoenix Force, everybody goes crazy, Cyclops takes over the world, and now people think he’s utterly nuts. Also, he murdered his long-time teacher/father figure, nearly executed Captain America, and worst of all, set up the events of the utterly ridiculous first arc of Uncanny Avengers. What’s the ‘Clops up to now?
“THERE IS A MUTANT REVOLUTION BEING PLANNED AND EXECUTED ON AMERICAN SOIL…”
This issue opens in a very odd place for me, as Anita Hill, Phil Coulson and Nick Fury (JUUUUUNNNNIORRRRR) stalk down a hall spouting Bendis dialogue about a person who is apparently in their custody. It’s a great showcase for the clipped shorthand talky-talky that BMB does so well, and combined with Chris Bachalo’s art, it’s a very kinetic and cinematic open for the book. When they arrive at the cell, we are shown a wide shot of a Caucasian male sitting in a holding cell, as Hill takes the necessary precautions to enter and interrogate him. It’s weird to see Nick Fury in such a secondary role, and I have to actively recall that this is Li’l Nicky Junior, due to his portrayal being identical to the Ultimate version, i.e. a bald Jules Winnfield. I don’t know if it’s the inking, or a conscious attempt from the artist, but Bachalo’s pencils feel much tighter and much more precise than in recent years (especially his wild and wacky stint on X-Men circa #200) and the blocking necessary to keep the identity of Hill’s prisoner is very well done. There’s some lovely back-and-forth between the two characters, explaining the new status quo (Cyclops has assembled a new team and is criss-crossing the globe, gathering new mutants to add to his army) and effectively setting the stage for the brave new world the mutants face. Hill initially blows him off, but then the visitor gives her one piece of information she DIDN’T know: “His powers don’t work anymore.”
The creators give us a flashback to Cyclops and his new team (Emma Frost, Magik, Magneto, a time manipulator aptly named Tempus and a healer who has yet to choose his superhero name) as they arrive on the scene of a mutant eruption (for lack of a better word) in San Diego. This portion of the story is truly excellent first-issue stuff, putting the team in action for a bit, showing us how the police fear and mistrust mutants, giving us a taste of New Sentinels, and also the current powerset status quo of Magneto and Cyclops. My first really meaningful complaint comes up in the visual depiction of Emma Frost, transitioning again from the tall and busty Frank Quitely White Queen to the compact and meaty version seen in the (otherwise pretty dull) X-Men: Xenogenesis. The constant changes in body shape are a concern for me, especially since Emma Frost’s dialogue in this issue doesn’t sound particularly Emma Frost-like. Still, things are pretty exciting during the fighty-fighty, and the ending reveal of which mutant is ready to play mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. is nicely handled and kind of intriguing. I would have preferred that we not have YET ANOTHER character who seems to be visually modeled on Bendis himself (as happened with Kingpin in his Daredevil work and Professor X in his Ultimate X-Men), but that’s more a complaint about the in-joke than about the story or the quality of the issue…
BOTTOM LINE: SHOCKING REVEAL NOT SO SHOCKING, BUT OTHERWISE NOT BAD…
Given the makeup of this team, and the expectation that Cyclops isn’t turning informant on himself, you probably know which white male team member has shaved his head and gone to find Maria Hill (especially since there is only one Caucasian male other than Cyclops in the issue.) Still, it’s an interesting take on things, turning the tables on one of Marvel’s oldest characters again, and I’m at least interested enough to check out issue number two of this book. The good side is, with Marvel’s current publishing schedule, it’ll probably be out by 4 p.m. tomorrow. All in all, though, Bendis and Bachalo meld their styles VERY well in this issue, giving us an issue that reads smooth and looks pretty fabulous, and even pushes back any worries that you’ve seen the “All-New and All-Different” take on mutant teams many times before. Uncanny X-Men #1 gets us off and running with aplomb, and is a very successful re-imagining of the franchise, earning a well-deserved 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!