Though Extermination has not ended Marvel is not wasting any time in moving into a new era for the X-Men. To usher in this new era Marvel is bringing the iconic Uncanny X-Men as a weekly series. To make sure this weekly Uncanny X-Men series works Marvel has enlisted Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson to work together. All three are talented writers with background writing X-Men comics in the last few years. Hopefully with their knowledge of recent events they can use that to place the X-Men franchise back in a direction that can bring fans back to the franchise. Let’s find out if that is the case with Uncanny X-Men #1.
Writers: Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson
Artists: Mahmud Asrar (Disassembled); Mirko Colak (What Tomorrow Brings: A Bishop Story); Ibraim Roberson (What Tomorrow Brings: A Jean Grey Story); Mark Bagley (What Tomorrow Brings: An Armor & Anole Story and Epilogue)
Inkers: Andrew Hennessy (What Tomorrow Brings: An Armor & Anole Story and Epilogue)
Colorists: Rachel Rosenberg (Disassembled);
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Jamie Maddrox freaks out and asks Jean Grey where Kitty Pryde is. X-23 appears and stabs Jaime in the back of the head.
We then see the X-Men fighting Multiple Man’s duplicates who are all asking where Kitty Pryde is.
At the Xavier Institute For Mutant Education And Outreach Jean asks Iceman, Nightcrawler and X-23 if they’ve seen Kitty. X-23 says that Kitty took some students to do some quick training before the upcoming press conference. Jean mentions having a vision but is unsure what it was.
Above North Carolina Kitty is flying a group of X-Men students to their training point. The students are all surprised that their opponent will be Forearm. Kitty reminds her students that every mission is a learning opportunity and that to the public Forearm is a legitimate threat since they don’t have mutant powers like the X-Men do.
When Kitty goes to land the jet she loses control of her powers and accidentally phases through the control panel. Pixie also reacts oddly. Before the X-Men can figure out what is going on the jet loses power and crashes into a building.
At the Kalahari Desert in Botswana Storm finds Beast samples as she is unable to control the odd weather in the area but cannot. Beast says that the rain is indeed not natural for the area. Storm mentions that to the people living there this must be God answering their prayers.
Back in North Carolina as the X-Men are recovering from the plane crash the Mutant Liberation Front, consisting of Wildside, Samurai, Strobe, Forearm and Dragoness, attack the students. While the X-Men students fight Glob tries to contact the other X-Men back home. Forearm reveals the lab the X-Men crash on was creating a vaccine to wipe mutants from the face of the Earth.
Multiple Man suddenly appears out of nowhere. He asks an injured Anole about Kitty but gets no answer so he believes he is to late and runs away.
As the X-Men students struggle in the fight Polaris, Nightcrawler and X-23 show up. They turn the fight around with Polaris and X-23 doing a combo move that quickly takes out the Mutant Liberation Front.
At City Hall in Manhattan Senator Ashton Allen holds a rally to talk about how it may be to late for the current mutants but they can keep their children safe by using the new vaccine that can help them all live normal lives.
Within the crowd the X-Men have split into pairs. Some comment how they want to stop the rally while others tell their teammate to calm down. Jean asks Iceman if he has heard anything from Kitty but he hasn’t. Jean mentions she is unable to locate Kitty telepathically and is worried she’ll have to speak in Kitty’s place at the rally.
As Jean prepares to go up to the stage Multiple Man shows up knowing it’s bad timing but asks the crowd if they’ve seen Kitty.
Back at the Xavier Institute’s medical bay Beast trying to take care of Oya and Anole’s injuries. Pixie and the other students are worried about their classmates injuries. Beast yells at them to leave so he can properly treat Oya and Anole’s injuries.
Anole wakes up and points to the TV. Beast takes a look and is shocked to see Multiple Man at the Senator’s rally.
At the rally Multiple Man talks about how their biggest difference is that they have no differences. Multiple Man spots Jean and Iceman and freaks out.
Suddenly other Multiple Man duplicates start attacking the crowd including the X-Men. Jean tells the X-Men to try to contain Multiple Man and his duplicates. Iceman quickly creates an ice wall to keep Senator Allen safe. Jean tries to talk to Senator Allen but he does not listen as he believes this is the X-Men’s fault.
A number of Multiple Man duplicates surround Senator Allen but Jean is able to save him. When Jean goes to check on him Senator Allen is teleported away somewhere.
All the Multiple Man duplicates comment they were too late and teleport away as well.
The media try to get answers from Jean who they blame for the attack at the rally.
Elsewhere Kitty is woken up by Senator Allen, who demands to know what he is doing there. Kitty is confused as well and discovers her powers aren’t working. Apocalypse, tied up to an x-cross, tells Kitty to shut up. He goes on to say their captors will learn his wrath soon. End of main story.
The Good: If you are just judging Uncanny X-Men #1 on the merits of the story content we get it was a solid debut. Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson showed positive steps to getting the X-Men to recover from the damage that was caused to their brand in the last decade. Unfortunately when you look at the amount of new story content to the actual page count of Uncanny X-Men #1 it does become tough to justify the cover price to make this purchase.
Right away what Uncanny X-Men #1 gets right is not just making this first story yet another mutant vs non-mutant fight. While the main story told with the mutant vaccine does establish that it is not the only opposition Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson establish for the X-Men. Throughout the issue we see how the X-Men must also deal with threats like the Mutant Liberation Front who take more direct and violent approaches to mutant rights.
This is exactly how to set Uncanny X-Men to be successful. Because when the X-Men are at their best it is not just about them fighting the government, anti-mutant groups and the Sentinels. There needs to also be other mutant groups that show the X-Men don’t necessarily represent the entire community. It creates a greater challenge for the X-Men as they must find a way to stay united in their vision of mutants being treated equally and fairly even when others don’t agree with that vision.
Introducing a mutant vaccine is a risky move, especially for the first story arc of Uncanny X-Men. Immediately reading that a mutant vaccine it is a reminder of how much of a failure this story when trying to be done in the X-Men: Last Stand movie. The storyline hasn’t worked very well when trying to work it into recent comic book storylines either. So this is a big risk but as presented it does work to add too all that the X-Men are up against.
What made this mutant vaccine storyline work better this time around is how Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson because they bleed it into real life. With how things are going right now with the state of the world the X-Men, Jean Grey in particular, have a chance to rise up as leaders rather than just another superhero team. That is something they haven’t been and can separate them from other teams like the Avengers and Fantastic Four as they have to in the forefront for change in the world.
This is something we have seen be established by Tom Taylor over on X-Men: Red and works well here for Jean Grey’s character. And since Jean has been working more in the background to get supporters for the X-Men it was good to see how that role now needs to evolve. Taking Kitty Pryde out of the equation brought out the insecurities that Jean still has about being the face off the X-Men. Even though it is a role Professor Xavier groomed her to have she still feels like she is not there. Having that feeling showed she needs the push to take on that role, which fits Jean much more than Kitty, who hasn’t been the most effect X-Men leader since taking on the role post-Secret Wars.
While Jean is being positioned to be the X-Men leader I enjoyed the way the other core X-Men are being set up. Even if it was only a few lines Bishop, X-23, Jubilee, Psylocke, Iceman and Angel voices are all nailed well. They each sound different to show what they bring to the table, making them stand out more than just the fact they have different powers. As the story progress we will hopefully see more of their personalities and dynamics with one another.
The characters that did stand out from this core was Beast and Storm. That is because they are the only ones that get their own separate story involving the weird weather in Botswana. Adding in that Storm is not able to manipulate the weather to stop the rain gives this sub-plot an instant hook to drive interest on seeing it developed. Whether it involves the main plotline or a more long-term story it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.
The artwork throughout Uncanny X-Men #1 was solid enough. Mahmud Asrar, Mirko Colak, Ibraim Roberson and Mark Bagley all did their job to get across the different X-Men characters designs. Through the designs they were able to play into how different the X-Men’s personalities are and how their powers work. There were a few inconsistency at several points in the issue but they were far enough apart that it didn’t get in the way of the story.
The Bad: From a story perspective Uncanny X-Men #1 has a few problems that keep it back from being a complete win. One of these problems revolve around the portrayal of Multiple Man. At no point does Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson get us to understand what is going on with Multiple Man. Whether this is Multiple Man’s duplicates going rogue, being used by the main villain of the story or something else there are zero clues. All we are led to believe is that Multiple Man has gone crazy. That is such a waste of Multiple Man as it throws away all his development from X-Factor and makes him some crazy, ranting guy that is just a distraction.
Adding to the problem with Multiple Man is the fact that we don’t get an idea who is behind Kitty Pryde, Senator Allen and Apocalypse’s kidnapping. With how much of a page count Uncanny X-Men #1 it would’ve added to the story to see the main antagonist of the first storyline. This is afterall the first impression people are getting from the new era for the X-Men. And for some this may be the first experience with the X-Men comics. To get them into it we should see who we can direct our attention in terms of key antagonist.
The ending of the main story in Uncanny X-Men #1 does not help any. Though Apocalypse is one of the biggest X-Men villains his appearance did not hit in the way it was intended to. His threat to who captured him felt empty and almost out of character for him. That is because Apocalypse is someone that should be an end boss type. Trying to subvert that expectation by showing him captured just makes Apocalypse appear weak.
It would’ve been much more effective if his role was replaced by Mystique or Emma Frost. They would’ve worked better given that they have bigger history with Kitty Pryde. With that history their dialogue would’ve carried more weight to it. But since Apocalypse doesn’t have that he comes off looking like a weak villain who likes to rant about being superior.
As for the back-up stories they are all largely felt unneeded. The reason for that is because they distracted from what was going on in the main story. With Uncanny X-Men #1 being the first issue of this new era for the franchise it should’ve been about putting the best step forward with a killer first story arc. Though the back-ups gave more context to the core X-Men team it wasn’t much for what people already know.
Which all goes to the biggest problem with the story around Uncanny X-Men #1 and that it is not very new reader friendly. There are a lot of assumptions made in this issue that the reader knows the X-Men’s recent history. Elements like the Mutant Liberation Front are treated like you already know who they are. But since these are lower tier mutants who don’t have someone like Magneto, Mystique, Emma Frost or other notable X-Men antagonist leading them there is zero connection to them.
And if you are a new reader you will have no idea what importance they have or why Multiple Man has gone crazy. As this is Uncanny X-Men #1 is a big first issue more of the page count should’ve been dedicated to fleshing out all these elements. That is where rather than having back-up side stories those pages should’ve been used to flesh out these other elements that new readers will not understand. Without that treatment to these lower tier character than it’s easy to see how new readers will get lost.
Outside the plot of Uncanny X-Men #1 my real biggest problem with this issue is the cover price. While mostly solid Uncanny X-Men #1 does not feel like it is worth the $7.99 cover price. For that type of price I expect a more full story to be told. Instead we just get, in the case of the now weekly Uncanny X-Men, part one of a twelve part story. That gives off an empty feeling like things were held back to not deliver a full story. To put your best foot forward for a comic that is supposed to bring in new readers, fans that have fallen off the franchise and long-term readers Uncanny X-Men #1 does not feel worth the premium price point.
What makes it worse is that Uncanny X-Men #1 has 289 pages and only 20% of it is dedicated to telling an X-Men story. The rest of the issue contains the script of this issue, all the artwork without dialogue and character designs. On top of that nice pages of these “extras” is just the cover gallery for the next nine issues that you could get on Marvel.com.
All of this is under the guise of this issue being a “Director’s Cut” version of Uncanny X-Men #1. The problem with that is the reasonable expectation from a Director’s Cut is that we get more story content than what was in the original release. That is not what we get at all.
Making it all worse is the fact that Uncanny X-Men #1: Director’s Cut is the only version that you can purchase of the issue. So Marvel gives us no choice to purchase a comic that is just the main story for those interested in just that part of the issue. Not offering a $3.99 or $4.99 version of Uncanny X-Men #1 just further highlights the extreme premium price Marvel is charging their readers which just leaves a negative taste around a lot of the recycled extras they give us.
Overall: Judging Uncanny X-Men #1 from a story perspective it is a solid start to attract fans of the franchise, both old and new. As long as you know recent history Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson create a story that can drive the X-Men in a direction that will be a positive for the franchise. Though that drive may be bumpy as several problems keep Uncanny X-Men back from reaching its full potential. Because of that and the insane cover price of $7.99 I cannot recommend Uncanny X-Men #1 except to the most hardcore of hardcore X-Men fans. Everyone else save your money and wait to read Uncanny X-Men in trade paperback form or when there is a sale that drops the cover price of this issue.