REVIEW: Uncanny X-Men #534.1

Posted by under *like, Comics |

I didn’t pay a lot of attention when Marvel announced their “Point One” Initiative, or at least that’s what I’m assuming since I clearly didn’t understand how it all works. Starting in February, a series of issues with a “.1” appended to the previous issue number started appearing and I thought these were simply special editions of the regular book. In other words, I was under the impression that Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 was the same story as Amazing Spider-Man #654 with additional pages to attract and inform new readers. It turns out the “Point One” issues are new stand alone stories produced specifically to fit into current continuity as well as bring new readers up to speed on where titles currently stand and where they’re headed. Thankfully, I became aware of all this because this week’s Uncanny X-Men #534.1 may be the best issue of Uncanny X-Men I’ve read in years.

The book fits chronologically between issues #534 and #535, but does not require readers to know anything about what happened in the previous issue. Interestingly the “Point One” issue falls at the transition from writer Matt Fraction to Kieron Gillen. Gillen has been listed as a co-writer on Uncanny for the last few months, but #535 will be his first regular solo issue. Uncanny X-Men has seen a continuous run of creators in the last few years and Gillen has said he doesn’t want to upend things in taking over. As it stands, Gillen’s run is set to be brilliant, and it truly builds on what Matt Fraction established during his tenure. In turn, his run directly built on what had been done by previous writer Ed Brubaker, whom Fraction also co-wrote with leading into Uncanny X-Men #500. Brubaker’s issues of Uncanny were really the last significant divergence from what had come before on the title while the more recent transitions have been smooth.

In the issue, Gillen manages to establish supporting characters Mayor Sadie Sinclair and the X-Men’s Public Relations agent Kate Kildare nicely, while focusing on Magneto. I really enjoyed his use of clever dialogue and strong acknowledgement of past continuity going all the way back to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. The issue really gets at how the world views the X-Men (and specifically Magneto), not the readers, but the person on the street in the Marvel Universe. The action is solid and I liked Gillen’s pacing and use of the clock as a storytelling device. The threat of the mysterious “AIM” agents may be something to come back to, but the story is really what a self contained issue within an ongoing series should be.

Artistically, the issue is a treat for me as I’m a huge fan of penciler Carlos Pacheco. The cover is fantastic and really tells a story in itself given the characters depicted and the “X” shaped girders in the background. It captures the theme of reconstructing both the city of San Francisco, Magneto and the X-Men. Pacheco’s interiors are where things really shine, particularly the scene with Magneto addressing his alleged attack on New York City. It is perhaps the strongest page in the book in terms of its mood and presentation. The big finish with Magneto at the Golden Gate Bridge is also spectacular and the effortlessness of Magnetos actions is readily apparent. I’ve been a fan of Pacheco’s going back to 1999’s Avengers Forever, and while I’ve tried to follow his work since it’s nice to see him back working on an X-Men book. The two-page preview for what’s coming next in the pages of Uncanny X-Men is intriguing, but I am kind of disappointed to see Terry Dodson and Greg Land will continue to rotate as artists rather than Pacheco. Admittedly, I have come to enjoy both of them more as their work on this series continues despite some awkward images here and there.

Uncanny X-Men #534.1 did exactly what it was intended to in every conceivable way. It clearly establishes the status quo, tells a complete story, and leaves you wanting to know what comes next without a cliffhanger. This really is a 5-star book and is a great starting point for Kieron Gillen’s work on the title. I have high hopes for what comes next and can’t wait to see what Gillen has in store for the X-Men.

Related Posts with Thumbnails