I have not been enjoying this current arc all that much, so my expectations for this issue were not that high, but seeing as how it is written by Ed Brubaker, I figured there had to be a decent chance that the issue would still be good, and, luckily for me, this issue was good.
Most likely, too much has been made about the problem of decompression in ongoing comic books, to the point where it’s almost become a catch-all critique. But try as I might to avoid using it as a critique, that’s basically been my biggest problem with Brubaker’s Uncanny run so far – the issues seem to be decompressed to an uncanny degree, leaving us with the first two issues of this arc, which felt as though they had MAYBE one issue’s worth of story between them.
That didn’t seem to be the case with this issue, which seemed to advance the plot nicely while still giving us good characterization work, some nice dialogue, a pretty interesting subplot, good use of guest stars capped off with a strong cliffhanger.
The basic gist of the story is that a group of rogue Morlocks, led by the now-alive Masque, are doing acts of terrorism. The X-Men bring in Storm, because of her connection to the Morlocks, to investigate what is going on. The X-Men in the issue are Storm, Warpath, Caliban (who was saved from the Morlocks) and Hepzibah (who is stranded on Earth after the last storyline).
We get some very nice banter between Warpath, Hepzibah and guest-star Johnny Storm, as well as some amusing dialogue from Caliban (he gets nervous while playing video games, because he’s fighting Nazi’s – clever).
Storm shows some good detective work, working with Ben Grimm. Meanwhile, in the book’s subplot, Professor X and Nightcrawler are searching for Magneto. I understand that apparently some folks think that Xavier has been a bit over willing to use his powers without telling people, and that this is a sign that Xavier could be being controlled by some outside influence, and while I suppose that could be true, I think it’s more likely that Brubaker just doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal for Xavier to read some dude’s mind without telling him he’s reading his mind. And there are plenty of instances in the past where Xavier has done so, so the fact that it might contradict an issue by one of the gazillion writers to have written Xavier who had Xavier say he never would do such a thing, I don’t find that as very convincing evidence that this is somehow out of character for Xavier. In any event, the Magneto search storyline is not that interesting, but I found this issue’s bit good, especially as Xavier makes the point that graveyards may be the future of mutant kind. Good bit.
What was especially strong about this issue was Brubaker’s take on the media in the Marvel Universe, from the reporters following Masque’s terrorism (using his powers to reshape people’s appearances to make a group of humans on a subway car look like expressionist paintings) to Masque using a YouTube stand-in to deliver his message of terror to the masses. Great stuff on Brubaker’s part, and I enjoy the reaction that it draws from humans. Well handled characterization work.
Salvador Larocca’s art isn’t great (it’s a big step up from Billy Tan, though), but it was serviceable.
I won’t ruin the cliffhanger, but I LOVE the way that Brubaker plays it fair, which is all I ask with last page reveals. It is seemingly out of nowhere, but really, when you think about it, it really isn’t – it makes total sense, and I dig it. Nice little moment at the end.
I hope this keeps up with the next issue!
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