I love the idea of an “Uncanny X-Men” “Girls’ Night Out” comic. This book is probably the least joyful of the X-Men titles right now (thanks to its cast being on the lam), so the idea of switching gears and watching the female cast members head out for a little fun sounds right on target. But when you add in a tie-in with “Inhumanity” as the comic’s main event, the end result is an “Uncanny X-Men” #15.INH where Brian Michael Bendis and Kris Anka’s story never quite gets going.
The sad thing is that it feels like it should work, at first. The story’s collision with “Inhumanity” doesn’t happen until the halfway point, which gives Bendis a chance to show the characters interacting a bit. There are some fun bits (Illyana being deemed less scary than Emma, for instance) and the characters are interacting in a way that holds promise for the future. But as soon as “Inhumanity” rears its head, everything comes to a grinding halt.
Watching the X-Men interact with the Terrigen cocoon and its inhabitant is, to put it mildly, slow. It feels almost like a parody of Bendis’s tendency for his characters to prattle on endlessly without anything happening; it’s slow and borders on droning. By the time anything does happen, well, it’s too little too late. In many ways, it ends up being a prime example of why event tie-ins need to get scaled back, not pushed out even more than ever. This feels like a contractual obligation, not something where it happens naturally and organically. The frustrating thing is, if there’s a line of books that should have a connection with “Inhumanity” it’s the X-Men group. With new Inhumans having a parallel to the emergence of new mutants, there’s a lot of potential for how these groups will interact. But if this is the end result, well, perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to make the end result a little more interesting.
On the bright side, Anka stepping in as a guest artist results in a very attractive comic. The students look genuinely joyous when talking about stepping out for the evening. It’s a slightly younger, cuter rendition than we’re used to, but it helps up the energy level for the first half of the comic. Their beaming faces grab you by the lapels and demand your attention, and it makes me want to see more interiors from Anka instead of just covers. When someone can take the ridiculous (Emma’s sleeping position) and make it both funny and also reasonable, this is someone you don’t want to let go of.
“Uncanny X-Men” #15.INH looks nice, but in the end it’s a comic that just comes to a halt for its second half. I get it, tie-ins to big events sell well, and this is a practice that’s unlikely to change in the near future. But I can’t help but think that if this is the best that’s being served up, sooner or later it’s going to catch up with Marvel and DC and that sales bump isn’t going to happen. If tie-ins aren’t thought through a bit better, markers like .INH are going to be signals to avoid, rather than to target.