Saturday, November 27, 2010

The List #45 Part 1

Uncanny X-Men #530
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Greg Land
Before we begin, can I ask what is up with all the good/important X-Titles being released this week? Who at Marvel thought this was a good idea? I'm thinking a constant feed of X-Men works much better than just having one week a month where everything comes out.

This issue marks the welcome return of Greg Land to Uncanny which is a big improvement to Portacio awkward rape faces and characters who seem to have perpetually fried hair. Some of you may not be glad to see the return of Land, but let's think of it in the context of Uncanny: So long as Fraction is writing it in any form, it will always be shit and Land, while a horribly controversial artist, produces images that are worth lots of laughs. So if I'm going to be suffering this shit in attempting to keep in the know of what's going on, I at least welcome some unintentional humor along the way. Also, his issues tend to be more colorful.

The opening of this issue starts with Emma going over how important Shaw is for the hundredth time and then telling Fantomex and Shadowcat how she explained their departure to Cyclops. Basically, she used a flimsy shopping excuse that he didn't buy. She'd have had better luck just not telling him. Oh and, because this is Land, she's naked during this conversation with Cyclops. Yeah, Emma Frost, master manipulator and professional liar, really has trouble coming up with convincing explanations for three people's absence. Good heavens it appalls me how little respect Fraction has for female characters, but more on that later.

The big plot of this issue is the big release of HX-N1 disease that's infecting a decent amount of Utopia including, OMG WAIT FOR IT......WOLVERINE!!! OMG WHAT?! I thought his power levels were over 9000?! Yeah, we're doing a deadly mutant virus....again! Which is also a total ripoff of the swine flu hype! I understand there are only so many X-Stories to be told, but do we really have to put up with such obviously recycled crap? Speaking of recycled:
I know we've all seen this basic image before considering it's Copy and Paste Land, but is this really considered a desirable body? Big shoulders with a tiny waist? Is this what macho men want? To look like big pizza slices?
So yeah, there's also something uninteresting deal with the Collective Man as well as the guy whose working with Sublime or whatever and is now making his own faux Original Five X-Men. Nobody really cares and also, how many times do we have to have a group based around being like the Original Five? Again: It's played out now, let's at least move on to emulating the All-New All-Different group. Also, a little panel that popped up during the Faux Five introduction:

Does this panel makes you guys uncomfortable? It certainly makes me uncomfortable, like holy fellatio, how did this get past the censors?
Moving back to the virus issue, Cyclops tries to contain the situation by holding Utopia under quarantine and also calling a press conference, conducted by Archangel and I'm guessing Val Cooper, that basically just scares everyone and makes faint prejudices come out. Did the press really need to be informed? That island's fairly isolated, especially under quarantine, they actually could get away with not telling anyone until it becomes a big deal. Meanwhile, Dazzler and Northstar get the news, Daz being fabulously dressed up like the biggest fag hag this side of the Marvel Universe, and Daz is actually excited to be one of the remaining outside X-Men despite the fact that it means people are ridiculously ill. K, this is where we return to Fraction having no respect for women and I'd include gay men considering Northstar's also involved in this. Here we have Ali acting completely insensitive and stupid and that's pretty much how he's portrayed her and Northstar since he's introduced them: Stupid, superfluous, and shallow, basically as total jokes. What's worse is I feel like he's not aware of this and just thinks he's doing them a favor giving them some page time.

Conclusion: While this issue is definitely drama-filled and sort of fun, there's nothing really new to be found here. Same plotlines and same problems with the creative teams, but definitely a more fun issue than we've seen lately.

X-Men Legacy #242
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Paul Davidson
This issue marks the beginning of the brief Post-Second Coming rebuild arc which is oddly placed considering Second Coming's more or less already forgotten by now. Also, considering the last arc was pretty self-contained and could have easilly just have been moved to be after this one instead of before. That and Utopia and San Fransisco are already being drawn to be fully recovered by all the other artists, so we don't even get the visual need for this rebuild anymore.

The story this time around is basically three things: The rebuilding of Utopia, Omega Sentinel losing control over her systems, and Hellion's angst over losing his hands. Except Hellion's pretty justified in his angst, well, minus the fact that he keeps getting pissed anyone trying to help him. Rogue remedies this by deciding if he's not going to respond to sympathy then he's going to be put to work instead, and really, good on her for choosing that route considering how pissy he is to just
everyone. However, he does bring up one good point that's pretty much on everyone's minds:

Um really. Considering the science team operates like magic, just conjuring something up every time there's a need, how hard is it to make convincing looking hands considering it's just really about throwing on some latex or wtfever to those robot claws?
Meanwhile, a team is gathered to rebuild San Fransisco which includes Random, Psylocke, Hope, Colossus, Omega Sentinel, Rogue, and Danger. You may notice that there's a lot of former villains on this list, and if you read the issue, it looks even worse considering how ominous Magneto looks throughout the entire issue with being just white coming out of the shadow of his helmet. Seriously, Mags, way to help people feel comfortable with you.

Another thing of note includes how the Hope baton is passed from Uncanny to Legacy as Carey gets his chance to deal with the mutant messiah. Hellion gets in a tiff with her over her not using her powers to help speed up the reconstruction. Magneto makes a biblical reference when commenting on Hellion's disbelief concerning Hope, speaking about Thomas the Apostle wanting to see Jesus' crucifixion marks to prove he was the messiah. And really, I'm right there with Hellion because since her introduction I haven't bought Hope as some sort of astonishing messiah, and I just don't see myself buying it any time soon. She's just Jean-lite, and really, half the time Jean herself was Jean-lite.

Speaking of characters who act like previously established characters, I'm surprised Carey put Psylocke and Omega Sentinel together considering how similar both their functions are on a team and just generally how they act. I mean, the similarity's not so strong that it's embarrassing, that'd only occur if Carey added Sage to the mix, but it's still an interesting choice. Also, I have to wonder why there wasn't a scene with Psylocke tried to talk to Hellion, maybe it's just me, but I'd be interested to have two TKs address their similarity and all that.

In the end, this issue is hardly spectacular, but it is certainly a good one. While the main plot is hardly worth discussing at length, and as you can see I didn't because I really couldn't, it's still a Carey-quality issue. Also, the art done by Davidson is sort of standard which is sort of disappointing because I really enjoyed his dark work on New Mutants. Conclusion: This is one you should only purchase with your spare change.


Suzene said...

I've gotten to the point where I'm assuming the writers are putting their fingers in their ears and humming very loudly every time someone brings up Elixir, because no one has come up with a good reason yet why there are two amputees on Utopia when they know someone who can regrow someone's fucking heart in about five seconds if he needs to.

I'm giving Fraction a pass on Northstar because at least his dialogue could read as expressing concern (and that's how I'm reading it, because I absolutely refuse to accept that Jean-Paul Beaubier would be giddy about this joke of a situation), but god, poor Dazzler...the combination of that dialogue plus that expression is entirely inappropriate given the situation. That is, unless these guys want us to start hating the character.

The real shame of it is that the idea of Utopia's two most public mutants helping out the cops and garnering some good PR for the mutant cause isn't a bad one. It could even be written as a very canny plan on the part of Cyclops, the X-Men's new PR woman, or Dazzler and Northstar themselves. But no, it just mostly comes off as fame-whoring. Waste of an idea and two characters.

FSaker said...

I used to have expectations that Fraction was trying to find out how to make his voice works in Uncanny X-Men and that eventually he would find it and make great stories. I gave up on him after Second Coming; the Five Lights arc was horrible.

Regarding Legacy, I agree that it's unexpected to use Psylocke and Omega Sentinel in the same story. However, there is one even bigger similarity between them: both have dated the same man in the past, Neal Sharra (aka Thunderbird III). It would be nice to see the two women chatting about it and agreeing that they're lucky for getting rid of that moron (and feeling sorry for Lifeguard since she's still with him)...

But I'm sure Carey knows about it (unlike Fraction, Carey is aware of the X-continuity), so maybe he decided women should not be defined by their past/present boyfriends. Kinda like in Necrosha, when he had both Psylocke and Husk in the same team working in nice terms with each other instead of discussing about Archangel.

Wonder Man said...

I agree UXM needs a new writer

FSaker said...

Returning to Uncanny, Suzene brought an interesting point: the PR X-Men team is assembled by public and estimated mutant figures. I haven't realized that until reading her post: we have the queen of a prosperous nation (Storm, unless she got divorced off-panel), a successful athlete and former member of the Canadians' sweethearts Alpha Flight team (Northstar), a pop diva singer (Dazzler), a popular multibillionaire businessman (Angel), and... well, Pixie (every X-team needs an annoying brat as its mascot, I guess).

It's a brilliant idea to use all these popular mutants as the face of the team. Unfortunately, I guess Fraction didn't actually realize that, as he made it look that Cyclops only assembled this team because Psylocke and Emma are out of SF and everyone else is sick...

Suzene said...


Interestingly enough, Kieron Gillen, Fraction's partner-to-be on writing duties has something to say about the nature of the X-Men as celebrities:

Which, you know, good for him that he's thinking about it and he gives me hope (no pun intended), but unless he steers away from Fraction's tone-deaf characterization, I don't think it's going to be a saving grace.

Prodigial said...

I, for one, don't really mind the influenza-mutant-virus plot/idea thing. It's considerably fitting given the status and location of the mutant population. Plus, he really needed to pick up on the Sublime issue.

Fraction really is over-estimated, does nothing innovative, and is too random and incoherent to be interesting to me. It's like he's throwing in characters for the sake of wanting to have said "I've written Cecilia Reyes once, she was so exciting to write". Th'heck is Cecilia Reyes there for? Don't they have the whole Science team there doing the doctor thing?!?
I love the character, really glad she's not dead, but not if she's going to be used as some sort of Carey blow-up doll.

I have a HUGE problem with the art in Uncanny, too. Portacio has definitely had better days. But, for good or for worse, at least Land has some sort of aesthetics sense. However, it's Land's colourist that saves him more than anything.

He blatantly copies and pastes. The bodybuilder models he uses have been identified as Hidetada Yamagashi, for Namor; and Stan McQuay, for the Collective Man.
While all the chichas just look like something out of a Loreal advert. And yes, that particular panel was quite phallic and compromising.

Basically, Carey and Land need to fold and wrap their pretentious ten commandments up and shove them right up their butts, so we can move on to better mutant stories.

Prodigial said...

***Ops! By Carey, I meant Fraction on this last one.

Prodigial said...

As for Legacy,
Yeah, the X-kids have just been a sort of seasoning, with the focus being on Rogue, and now, Magneto, really.
Carey's take on Hellion is coming off as realistic to me. But there has to come a time when he's got to quit the angsty thing, because to me the character is so much more than that.

Suzene, I am right there with ya, with the Elixir thing too. I can't actually remember the proper reason why the character left for good, after killing Wither. After all the shit he's been through, was the episode THAT traumatizing, really, that would render his charcoal-black self innactive?!
One word: Lame.

And, seriously, I think the authors are trying too hard to implement the Hope-messiah thing into all the titles. She's becoming more annoying than anything to me.

Conversely, I am left wondering, if this arc is going to lead into 'Age of X'. Half of the characters are in there.

FSaker said...

@Prodigial - If I'm not mistaken, Kyle and Yost explained in an interview that Elixir left Utopia not due to any trauma, but because he found out that some of the people revived by Selene in Genosha had a chance to survive after her death if he healed them, so he went there to aid the survivors.

Too bad they never showed this explanation on-panel.

Prodigial said...

Didn't hear of that, but that's pretty lame, too. I just dread anything by those two dickheads.

I sincerely hope, a good competent writer can step up to the plate of the x-kids soon. 'nough said.