Uncanny X-Men #495 Review

Messiah Complex is over and now we get to deal with the fall out spinning out of one of the best big events from Marvel that I have read in a long time. Evidently, the X-Men are going to be disbanded as they try to figure out how to move on without their leader Professor X. Hopefully, Uncanny X-Men #495 gets me excited about this new direction for this title. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Art: Michael Choi

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Scott dreaming about his decision to disband the X-Men. Scott’s father, Corsair, tells him that sometimes you have to keep moving and can’t stay in one place too long. Jean Grey, in full Phoenix form, tells Scott that he is not the type of man to sit around and brood. That Scott is afraid of change.

Emma then invades Scott’s dream and tells him that change is good. We see Scott and Emma waking up in bed. Scott says that he isn’t second guessing his decision to disband the X-Men. He is simply assessing the situation and processing it. We then see that Scott and Emma are staying at a beautiful time-share located in the heart of the Savage Land that they bought from Ka-Zar.

We cut to two weeks ago with Iron Man meeting with Scott next to the ruins of the Xavier Institute. Iron Man wants Scott and his X-Men to get registered. (Huh? Aren’t all mutants already registered via the Mutant Registration Act? Having them also register under the Super Human Registration Act seems pointless and redundant. Which now that I mention it, this sounds exactly like the federal government.) That the events of Messiah Complex caused tons of collateral damage. Scott says that he isn’t registering and neither are his X-Men. The reason is because there are no more X-Men. That they disbanded and now they are just mutants who don’t have secret identities.

We shift back to “Scott and Emma’s Savage Land Adventure Vacation.” We see then riding dinosaurs, swimming, picnicking and killing their own dinner. After feasting on wild boar, they snuggle up together and talk about what is ahead for them. Emma says that the X-Men are not over. Scott says that he doesn’t know what purpose the X-Men serve without Professor X. Scott says he is so used to doing everything Professor X’s way that he doesn’t even know what his own way is anymore. Ka-Zar and Shanna then appear on the scene.

We slide over to Colossus and Nightcrawler in Germany. They are visiting the place where Nightcrawler grew up. Nightcrawler mentions how he will get payback for Logan hacking his image inducer so that he looked like Angelina Jolie. That led to the paparazzi showing up and snapping pictures of Peter with “Angelina.” The boys then arrive at the bar that Logan told them to meet him at once they were done looking at Cathedrals and other local architecture. We see Logan exiting the bar. We see that there was a huge bar fight and Logan is the only one standing. The boys then hop on a train and head off to Russia to visit where Peter grew up.

We zip back to the Savage Land. Ka-Zar and Scott are watching an ancient ritual of two dinosaurs squaring off for a duel to determine the leader of the pack. Emma tells Shanna that right now Scott is watching the dinosaurs and is squaring them up and calculating how he would personally take them both down. That there is a whole side to Scott that no one sees other than her. Shanna then mentions that it must be tough to never see Scott’s eyes. Emma answers that she can turn to diamond. That she can see Scott’s eyes when she wants to. (Um, can’t she just turn off Scott’s powers like she did in Astonishing X-Men?) Shanna remarks that deep down inside Emma is a softie. Emma responds only for Scott.

We cut to Emma and Scott in bed that night. Emma says that she is very happy right now and that she wants to stay that way when they go back to the real world. That she is tired of letting everything else control their lives. Scott replies that everything will be different and that he is going to change things.

We slide over to Angel flying above San Francisco. Angel e-mails Scott and tells him that today’s tabloids show picture of Peter with Angelina Jolie. But, the important thing is that Angel was flying around San Francisco looking for the place where Hepzibah and the others were supposed to meet. And Angel stumbles across an entire neighborhood that seems to be living in the 1960’s again. (Oh, dear, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.) Angel asks Scott and Emma to come immediately. That Angel can’t tell if this is in his head or real. We see some chick ask Angel if he wants to come party with her. Angel says yes.

The Good: Uncanny X-Men #495 was a solid read. Even though I found this to be a slow issue that dangerously skirts on the edges of being filler, this still was a technically well written issue. Brubaker crafts plenty of his usually strong dialogue. The dialogue has a pleasant and natural flow to it that pulls the reader into the story even though not much is actually going on. Brubaker manages to give the various X-Men their own unique external voices to match their varied personalities.

Brubaker also pulls off some of his best character work that we have seen during his run on this title. I loved how Brubaker handled both Scott and Emma in this issue. Let’s start with Scott first. I am digging the maturation and growth of Scott’s character that Brubaker gives us in this issue. We are witnessing incredible evolution of Scott’s character that we have not seen in an extremely long time. I am continually amazed at how Brubaker has taken a character that I have always found rather generic and terribly vanilla and molded him into one of the more intriguing characters in the X-Men.

I enjoyed Scott’s dream that starred his father, Corsair, and Jean Grey in her Phoenix form. Corsair and Jean are obviously two of the biggest influences in his life and even from beyond the grave they still visit him to counsel him in times of need. I liked that Emma inserted herself into the dream with a hint of jealously motivating her actions. Emma clearly doesn’t enjoy playing second fiddle to anyone. This also shows the complex nature of their relationship. Emma doesn’t have to deal with just Scott, but she also has to deal with constantly competing with the dead wife in Jean and that is a battle that she simply will never win.

It is fun watching Scott as he evolves into his own man. Brubaker makes an excellent point by having Scott stress how he has always lived, fought and conducted himself according to Xavier’s style and way of doing things. That Scott doesn’t even know what his own style or way of living life is. This is a classic take on the complex relationship between a strong dominating father figure and the son who constantly lives in the shadow and seeks to emulate the father rather than trying to become his own man.

It is definitely time for Scott to finally become his own man. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this must lead to Scott completely rejecting Xavier and his philosophies. But, it does mean that Scott must do things in his own manner. That this will be the only way that he can respect himself and at the same time honor Xavier’s dream.

All right, now let’s talk about Emma. Brubaker pulls off some excellent character growth with Emma in this issue. I have always liked Emma, but she is a character that writers too often type cast as the ice queen bitch. Now, to be sure, that is a huge part of her character. And I definitely love my Emma to be a total bitch. However, it is nice to see some depth and texture to her personality. Any character that is reduced to merely a one trick pony can get stale.

Brubaker wisely shows the reader a side of Emma that we simply don’t ever get to see. It was cool to see this soft and gentle Emma. A woman who truly loves Scott with all her heart. Brubaker reveals how much Emma not only respects Scott but how she actually looks up to him as a source of inspiration. Emma has great pride in Scott for the impressive man that he is. While I still like Emma when she is in bitch form, I hope that Brubaker gives us more of this softer side of Emma once they return from the Savage Land. This would help Emma’s character to grow and evolve into an even more compelling and intriguing X-Man.

I also enjoyed the excellent chemistry that Brubaker creates between the three musketeers in Logan, Nightcrawler and Peter. It was great seeing this classic X-Men trio together goofing off and travelling around Europe. These three characters have always shared a long and close bond with each other and it was cool seeing Brubaker give a nod to the past by reminding the reader that these three characters are like brothers with each other.

Michael Choi’s artwork was flat out gorgeous. This is one beautiful looking comic book. I love his wonderfully detailed style of art. I am thrilled that Choi is on this title.

The Bad: Uncanny X-Men #495 was a well written issue, but it was just too slow for me. This issue came across too close to being a filler issue. I know that we just ended a massive story arc in the Messiah Complex. And I know that normally writers like to mail it in and take an issue off after the ending of a huge story arc. And I also understand that Brubaker is taking a step back and trying to lay a foundation for the new direction that this title is headed. But, despite all that, this issue still felt dangerously close to be filler. Uncanny X-Men #495 was a bit boring at times and felt like Brubaker was simply stalling for time.

Scott and Emma’s “Savage Land Adventure Vacation” was a bit too cheesy for my taste at certain points. I appreciated the quality character work that Brubaker pulled off, but there were several pages of this plotline that were unnecessary filler that almost threatened to make the entire plotline kind of silly. Especially the pages showing all the different vacation things that the couple was doing. It was like that part of a romantic comedy where we see quick scene cuts of the two main characters engaged in a whole bunch of different events during their romantic day together.

The ending to Uncanny X-Men #495 did absolutely nothing for me. It certainly failed to get me excited for the next issue. However, I have faith in Brubaker that he has something great up his sleeve for use with this new plotline.

Overall: Uncanny X-Men #495 was a well written issue with plenty of great character work on Scott and Emma. Having said that, there is practically no action in this issue and the pacing is slow. Some fans may be a bit bored with the read that Brubaker delivers in this issue. Still, this is a great time for new readers to hop aboard Uncanny X-Men. And I would certainly recommend giving this title a try.

2 thoughts on “Uncanny X-Men #495 Review

  1. Brubaker has said in interviews that the inspiration for this five-issue arc was that thread of Claremont “Uncanny X-Men” stories that saw Cyclops and most of the team presumed dead and travelling from Louisiana to the Arctic to the Savage Land to Japan to Canada (for a fight with Alpha Flight) and then finally home, while Professor X and Lilandra departed Earth, and Jean joined the ex-X-Men and Moira in Europe. Basically some character exploration while Cyclops sorts out what the X-Men will be about now.

    A lot of the details here recall that era, like Nightcrawler’s Errol Flynn disguise.

    I’m intrigued by what Warren was talking about at the end there; are the X-Men thinking about setting up shop in San Francisco? Now that I think about it, that’s something you could conceivably make stick; you’d have to move the Mansion there and call it the Xavier Institute in the long-term, but the X-Men aren’t really tied to New York explicitly, since they live in the upstate, not the city.

    On Iron Man’s appearance, I thought he himself was given a neutral portrayal; Cyclops is angry at him (or what he embodies), which is perhaps fitting as a character, but objectively within the book he seems genuinely concerned and interested in working things out. Also of note, Brubaker’s reading of the SHRA seems to be that you don’t have to bother registering unless you’re an active hero; other wise you can go about your business; he used something similar in Young Avengers Presents, and PAD goes by that too in X-Factor and She-Hulk, where the characters all have private jobs and get along fine.

    Also, the hippy thing looks fun. If you haven’t seen it yet, the glorious cover to #497 (in a couple of pieces):






  2. Now, this is the Ed Brubaker I was waiting to read on Uncanny X-Men. I found his previous work on the book somewhat mediocre and uninspired with bland characterizations, but Messiah Complex sure came with an epiphany for him and it looks like he’s finally got the characters he wants to write about. I loved this issue and the insights on new aspects of Cyclops and Emma’s relationship and personalitites, it felt like a strong natrual relationship without being forced, unlike his portrayal of Rachel and Korvus or Warpath and Hepzibah.
    Having Logan, Kurt and Peter roadtrippin around Europe joking around is sure gonna be fun, and I’m intrigued with the hippie stuff. Hippie Cyclops and Emma Frost are sure gonna be a blast.
    It’d be neat if, as the hints seem to indicate, the X-Men installed themselves on San Francisco. It’d be a fresh twist for the them.

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