Messiah Complex: Uncanny X-Men #492 Review

Messiah Complex One Shot accomplished its main purpose of getting me excited about this massive Messiah Complex story arc that is going to be running through Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, X-Factor and New X-Men. I’m sure that Brubaker is going to deliver a strong read with Uncanny X-Men #492. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Danny Miki & Allen Martinez

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a news report on the aftermath of the battle waged in Cooperstown, Alaska. We see Scott and Emma watching the news report. Scott wonders why the news didn’t report about the two dead Marauders on the scene. That maybe someone is covering it up.

Scott asks if Emma made the call to get in some support. Emma answers that she did and they should be here shortly. However, they weren’t happy about coming to the X-Mansion. Scott snaps that now is not the time for turf wars and they need all the help they can get.

Professor X then enters the room and asks Scott why he didn’t tell him that he was sending out a team of X-Men. Scott barks that he doesn’t need Professor X’s permission to do anything. That Scott is the leader of the X-Men. And that Scott won’t debate with the Professor about every move he makes especially given Professor X’s recent track record. Scott yells that Professor X left his brother, Alex, in space, sat by idly while Scott’s father was killed and lied to them about the Danger Room and Krakoa.

Professor X responds that he trained Scott and that he knows more about new mutants than anyone else on the planet. Professor X pleads for Scott to let him help Scott. Scott responds that Professor X needs to let him do what he was trained to do: to lead. And for Professor X to help by getting Cerebra back online as soon as possible. Scott says if he needs Professor X’s help that he will ask for it. That this isn’t about pride. Professor X responds that this is about Scott being disappointed in him.

We cut to Angel, Nightcrawler Colossus and Wolverine searching for several ex-Acolytes in hopes of finding out where Exodus is hiding. Suddenly, Gargouille attacks Angel. Colossus then brawls with Neophyte and an Acolyte I don’t recognize. Neophyte phases through the building to escape Colossus. Projector blast Colossus. Nightcrawler then grabs Neophyte and teleports him high into the air. Wolverine then faces off with Projector.

We shift back to the X-Mansion where Jamie Madrox and Rictor appear on the scene. Evidently, Emma temporarily erased the objections they had about ever working with the X-Men again in order to get them to the X-Mansion as fast as possible. Jamie and Rictor are less than pleased with Emma’s method of getting them to the X-Mansion.

Layla then enters the X-Mansion and says she wasn’t invited, but that she followed Rictor and Jamie since Jamie is going to need her for what comes next. Scott then tells Jamie that now is not the time to engage in petty disputes. That there has been a birth of a new mutant and that they have to save the new mutant baby.

Scott says that since Rictor has lost his mutant powers, that he is the perfect person to infiltrate the Purifiers and find out what they are up to. Rictor is less than enthused with the plan. Scott then says that he wants Jamie to go pay Forge a visit.

We cut to Professor X and Beast working in the lab. Professor X is upset with Scott shutting him out. Beast examines one of the Purifiers’ blasters. Beast figured that it would be future technology that the Purifiers salvaged from Nimrod. But, it is not. Instead, the blaster is not futuristic and its design looks familiar. Beast then tells Professor X that he has to let Scott lead the X-Men and take pride that he trained Scott well.

Professor X then leaves the lab to go check on some rerouting for Cerebra. Professor X passes by the room where Cyclops is barking out orders and formulating plans for the next move with Emma, Rictor, Jamie and Layla. Professor X looks sad, shunned and useless. Professor X slumps his way to Cerebra.

We hop back to the X-Men brawling with the Acolytes. Nightcrawler and Angel use excellent team work to take out Neophyte and Gargouille. Wolverine and Colossus use fantastic team work to take down Projector and the fourth Acolyte. Projector then tells Wolverine that he will answer any questions Wolverine has for him.

We slide back to Emma and Scott in their bedroom. Emma mentions how she likes it when Scott is all in charge. That it suits him. (Yeah, I get it already Brubaker. Emma is submissive and likes it when Scott dominates her in bed. I mean between the one scene in Messiah Complex One Shot and this scene it is pretty obvious.) Scott answers that he feels like he is missing something. A wildcard that they haven’t considered.

And right on cue, we cut to Predator X running through the woods in search of the mutant baby that attracted him to Cooperstown in the first place. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Brubaker cranked out his best issue with Uncanny X-Men #492. This was simply a fantastic read. Brubaker treats the reader to a well paced and plotted issue. We certainly get Brubaker’s patented slow burn approach to Messiah Complex in this issue. Brubaker is a master at building tension and anticipation within the reader and he certainly achieves both with Uncanny X-Men #492.

Brubaker normally crafts excellent dialogue and he definitely gives the reader his strongest dialogue yet on Uncanny X-Men. Each character has their own unique voice and their well developed personalities lend to some quality chemistry between the various characters. It is also neat watching Brubaker write different members of the X-Men compared to the ones that he has been handling during his run on this title.

Brubaker continues to lay a sound foundation as he fleshes out several different plotlines that will be running through Messiah Complex. Brubaker’s impeccable attention to detail is obvious in how he addresses so many different aspects of this complex story arc.

I liked the little teaser we got when the Beast was examining a blaster from one of the Purifiers and commented how the blaster’s technology is not future tech from Nimrod like most of the Purifiers’ equipment. Instead, the blaster’s technology is a familiar design to the Beast. Brubaker doesn’t make a big deal about this, but we all know that there is nothing unimportant in a Brubaker story arc no matter how small the plotline might be. I’m curious to learn who was behind the design for the Purifiers’ blasters.

Brubaker spends much of this issue setting the initial course of direction for the various plotlines. I like how Brubaker pulled X-Factor into the mix. And the use of Emma temporarily erasing Jamie’s objection with ever working with the X-Men was a great method of bringing X-Factor into the story arc. It was a creative way to get past the obvious obstacle that Jamie would never allow X-Factor to work with the X-Men. Also readers of the X-Men who don’t read X-Factor and may be unaware of the schism between the two teams. This was a nice way to demonstrate the rift between the two teams without re-hashing a lot of back story.

Brubaker generated some nice tension between the members of X-Factor and the members of X-Men. It is obvious that Jamie is bristling at Emma’s tactics and at the fact that he is actually at the X-Mansion. I dig that Brubaker is making this a rather uneasy alliance between X-Factor and X-Men. While it is nice to see teams get together and act like family toward each other ala the JLA and the JSA, but I also dig seeing super hero teams who just don’t like each other. The feud between the X-Men and X-Factor should help to keep this story lively. It also mirrors the uneasy alliance that exists between the three main villains in Mr. Sinister, Exodus and Mystique.

Brubaker also did a nice job handling Layla’s character. Over on X-Factor, Layla’s peculiarities have become normal to the reader and to her teammates. The members of X-Factor have grown accustomed to the strange ways that Layla’s powers operate. However, Brubaker emphasizes how Layla’s odd powers can be annoying to people not exposed to her that much. Cyclops is positively irritated that Layla continually finishes his sentences for him.

I dig Cyclops’ plan to have Rictor infiltrate the Purifiers. What a bizarre and horrifying mission for an ex-mutant to undertake. It makes sense that Rictor would be less than pleased with such an assignment. However, it does show Cyclops’ ability to be sneaky and come up with a crafty way for our mutant heroes to get a spy into the ranks of the Purifiers. Being the lone ex-mutant between the rosters of the X-Men and X-Factor makes Rictor the only man for the job.

And what is up with Cyclops wanting Jamie to visit Forge? Could it be that Scott wants Forge to build a device to track down the mutant infant? Clearly, our heroes are at a competitive disadvantage with Mr. Sinister’s forces and the Purifiers who seem to remain a step ahead of the X-Men.

Of course, what I loved the most about Uncanny X-Men #492 was how Brubaker handled both Professor X’s character and Cyclops’ character and the relationship between the two me. It was spectacular. Brubaker crawls into the psyches of both men and gives us a unique look at Professor X as well as a look at the rare emotional side of Cyclops that he usually keeps locked up and guarded deep inside his soul. Brubaker builds off of all the resentment for Professor X that has been built up inside of Scott over the recent past.

I’m glad that this rift between Professor X and Cyclops isn’t being swept under the carpet like so many plotlines are and glossed over. It make it much more realistic and intriguing that Scott harbors such great resentment toward Professor X for what he has done. And it makes sense that Scott wouldn’t be able to put all of this past him.

Think about what Professor X did to Scott and the X-Men. They were pretty unforgiveable. Professor X lied to the X-Men about Krakoa (X-Men: Deadly Genesis) and the Danger Room (Astonishing X-Men). Professor X left Scott’s brother in space. And Professor X was present when Scott’s father was killed. All of these events combine to make it virtually impossible for Scott to view Professor X in the same way that he previously did.

It was an awkward and painful scene when Scott asserts himself as the true leader of the X-Men and shoves Professor X into an ancillary position with the team. It is reminiscent of a prince who pushes the old and doddering King from the throne and assumes full control of the kingdom and allowing his father to be nothing more than a figurehead. And Professor X knows it. Scott has the power and is the true leader of the X-Men. Scott is now the heart and soul of this team. Not Professor X. Charles has been reduced to nothing more than a figurehead.

It is inevitable that at some point a brilliant student may end up surpassing his teacher. And we are seeing Scott utilizing all of Professor X’s training to become what he was destined to do. To lead the X-Men. It is a strange position for Professor X to be in. On one hand he has to feel pride in creating and molding such an impressive and capable leader like Scott. And on the other hand, it has to hurt to see Scott carrying out the Professor’s training at the expense of Professor X’s involvement with the team.

And what made the scene even more impressive was that Brubaker really conveyed an intense sense of disappointment that Scott has for Professor X. Charles Xavier was Scott’s father for all practical purposes. Corsair was never around for Scott. Charles was. Corsair didn’t raise and teach Scott how to be a man. Charles did. Scott viewed Charles as his father and a man of great integrity and honor. Scott viewed Charles as someone perfect. And Scott always did what Professor X requested with no questions asked. It always is painful and traumatic when people that we build up to such high heights let us down.

And Professor X’s feelings of being “put out to pasture” are hammered home to the reader in the wonderful scene where Charles walks down the hall and passes by the meeting between Scott and Emma and the members of X-Factor. Brubaker knows that less is more and this scene has an even more powerful impact due to the lack of any thought balloons or dialogue.

I have never seen Professor X look so small and insignificant as he did in that short scene. It was such a bizarre scene for a character that I have always found to be the patriarch for the X-Men family who calls all of the shots. Professor X was the Tony Soprano of the mutant world. Professor X has played the role of the puppet master for so long that it is strange to see him stripped of his control over the X-Men.

I dig seeing Scott asserting his authority to Professor X and to the rest of the X-Men. Scott has evolved beyond being a faithful student and the field leader of the X-Men. Scott has finally stepped out of the large shadow cast by Professor X and has embraced his destiny as the rock that is the foundation for the X-Men. Brubaker does an excellent job portraying Scott as the X-Men’s Steve Rogers.

Scott displays the ability to command respect from his teammates and assumes complete control of the team. Scott’s impressive leadership abilities even get Jamie and Rictor to fall in line with Scott’s plans. Brubaker gives Scott a cool and unflappable demeanor that inspires confidence in his teammates.

Cyclops has always suffered from being a bit of a generic and vanilla character. Not anymore. Between what Whedon is doing with Scott on Astonishing X-Men and what Brubaker is doing with Scott on Uncanny X-Men, Cyclops has suddenly become a much more intriguing character.

Brubaker ends Uncanny X-Men #492 with a cool ending with Scott wondering about the possibility that he has overlooked a wildcard in this entire mess as we see Predator X romping through the forest searching for the mutant baby. Involving Predator X is a nice move to include a villain from the New X-Men title.

Billy Tan provides this issue with plenty of dynamic artwork. The fight scenes were very well done.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Uncanny X-Men #492 was an excellent read. Brubaker is really hitting his stride on this title. And it is just in time with the Messiah Complex story arc kicking off. If you haven’t read Uncanny X-Men in a long time or if you had been turned off by the low quality reads that have plagued this title for years, then maybe it is time you gave this title a try once again. Brubaker is beginning to work his magic with the X-Men and for the first time in over 15 years, Uncanny X-Men is once again becoming a must read comic book.

2 Comments

  1. Yeah, I get it already Brubaker. Emma is submissive and likes it when Scott dominates her in bed.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing (Whedon made a similar joke a couple of years ago, I believe).

    The other Acolyte (who I didn’t recognize either) is Vindaloo, according to my sources (with a name like that, it’s perhaps understandable why he didn’t go very far).

    Professor X’s status has been in flux the last several years. He retired at the end of Morrison’s run, leaving Scott and Emma in charge (Scott, really, since Emma will never command the kind of loyalty he does), and went off to Genosha; then M-Day wiped mutants off the face of the map, and pretty much every good mutant huddled at the Mansion, and he’s been floating around the halls ever since, not in charge, but still a presence people pay attention to. Cyclops is clearly the boss now, so I’ll be interested to see where Xavier ends up at the end of this story, since you have to find something for him to do (you could kill him, but that’s temporary solution, since he’s far too important and popular to stay dead, and I wouldn’t want him to anyway; he’s one of my favourite X-Men. And really, what is Magneto without Professor X around?

    I thought this was a great start to the crossover proper. Brubaker and Tan’s respective best work so far on the title. Next week is David and guest-artist Scot Eaton on X-Factor.

  2. A well written, action-packed,coherent, entertaining X-men comic! In this day and age! They need to invent a word that goes way beyond ‘Astonishing’ to use as this book’s adjective.

    My only complaint is I still don’t buy the 3rd Summers’ brother nonsense. I actually hope that crap turns out to be Skrulls.

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