Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Uncanny X-Men 4

24 January 2012 by Nicholas in Comics

Uncanny X-Men was published by Marvel Comics and written by Kieron Gillen and featured art by Brandon Peterson. It was a single issue story telling of the confrontation between the Cyclops led X-Men team and a member of the Phalanx.

Now, I love Brandon Peterson artwork, and have for a great number of years (I bought Mystic on the basis he drew it, and think his work on Medieval Spawn/Witchblade is beautiful) but I found his art oddly static in this issue. I know that he uses a computer to aid him a lot in his art these days, but it has led to a loss of fluidity and a lack of a sense of motion. His line width, too, seems to be too unchanging and sometimes too thin and skeletal.

Kieron Gillen seems an able writer, he does some quite clever things and obviously gives  a lot of thought to what he writes. His run on Uncanny, so far, has been enjoyable. But he is guilty of trying to cram in too much exposition here. His initial pages of the Phalanx regrouping and rebuilding itself was full of exposition that was arduous to read through. I think, perhaps, because it was accompanied by some really quite boring panels. Perhaps the Phalanx would have worked better as something that was more unexplained and had much of its back-story left as a mystery. However, the climax would have had to have been different if this had been the case.

The climax also highlighted another problem with this issue: the X-Men themselves were hardly in it and nothing of interest particularly happened to them. The only one to have anything approaching a character moment was Storm, who is only there by editorial contrivance and is largely at odds with the ethos of the team and would be opposed to many of the personnel. Colossus, who traditionally would also be opposed to the team, shows signs of succumbing to his more base urges in his power demonstration moment and Magneto has a moment of stating how powerful he is only for the threat to find a way to neutralise his abilities.

I think that is my main problem with this comic: it exists to show how powerful this group of X-Men are and has to spend about half the comic explaining what the threat is and what motivates it. It then wraps everything up in a few pages at the end having tried to escalate the threat level by a few power demonstration sequences that the antagonist shrugs off. To my mind the comic should be about huge scale: if you have Magneto as a team member then you should have huge power displays and action sequences that carry on for pages. Humanise things, yes, but only as counter balance to a huge great action scene.

Overall, this felt a little like a misfire from some creators whose work I know can be much better. And this team of X-Men really doesn’t appeal to me much