The return of the Uncanny X-Men series has not been a stunning success. While starting out with some potential it has quickly gone off the rails. Rather than bringing in readers all Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson and Matthew Rosenberg have done is remind Marvel fans how convoluted the X-Men franchise is. That is something that is hard to say as someone that wants Uncanny X-Men to return to being one of the premiere comic books on the market. Things haven’t gone that way thus far with this X-Man plotline. Can Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson finally get things back on track? Let’s find out with Uncanny X-Men #5.
Writers: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson
Artist: R.B. Silva
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Uistoval, Cherinaya Storm’s X-Men team are trying to control the unrest that Magneto and Angel created by taking away the military and civilians weapons.
Elsewhere Kitty Pryde and Apocalypse go back and forth arguing if taking peoples weapons was the correct thing to do. X-Man tells both of them to settle down.
He then asks Apocalypse what he would do in his position. Apocalypse says he would make himself look like a God to the public and take away all the false prophets they idolize. X-Man takes that to heart and uses his powers to wipe away all the churches and other religious structures from the world.
Kitty tells X-Man that he should return things to how they were and calls him a psychopath for listening to Apocalypse. X-Man uses his powers to tape Kitty’s mouth shut.
In the Gulf of Mexico Jean Grey’s X-Men team finish saving people. They eventually come across an oil rig that has been covered in a forest-like environment.
While investigating the area the X-Men discover a forest filled with life much to their confusion.
In his lab under the Xavier Institute Beast analyzes security footage to discover who stole one of the vaccine samples. Beast only sees someone covered in a robe. He uses his computer to analyze the person’s weight, build, posture and movements to narrow the search for who it is.
Outside the Xavier Mansion Glob leads Multiple Man through the protesters and towards the wreckage of the mansion. There Glob introduces Multiple Man to his team that includes Legion. Multiple Man makes it known he is not happy to see Legion but is willing to work with them to help the X-Men.
They then head into were the remains of Cerebro are left. Legion uses Cerebro to figure out where X-Man is. He then asks the X-Men students if they are ready to save the world. Armor says they are.
Back in Ukistoval the X-Men continue to try to deal with the unrest in the area while Magneto and Angel look on. Polaris tries to reason with Magneto but he says he will stop anyone that gets in the way of X-Man’s command. Polaris and Magneto then begin to fight.
Meanwhile Storm and Psylocke have come up with a plan to deal with Angel. Cannonball starts executing the plan by flying himself and Angel into the upper atmosphere of Earth. After they both run out of breathe they end up crashing back on the ground.
Storm then goes to help Polaris fight Magneto.
Psylocke confronts Angel as he recovers from the crash landing. Psylocke tries to reason with Angel that what he is doing is wrong. Angel disagrees and tries to convince Psylocke to join his side.
Psylocke suddenly strikes Angel with her psychic sword. The strike forces Angel to turn into his Archangel form. Archangel proclaims that Psylocke has ruined everything. End of issue.
The Good: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson attempt to make things right with Uncanny X-Men #5. If it was just based on the pacing of the story it would be a winner. Unfortunately that is not the case for Uncanny X-Men #5. Once you start peeling back the layers of this issue all the weak points quickly become revealed in the overall story that is being developed.
The one thing that Uncanny X-Men #5 did have going for it over other issues in this series was the pacing. Rosenberg, Thompson and Brisson moved the story at a quick pace. There was never a moment were things got to slow. Even when that was about to happen they were able to move the focus to what one of the three X-Men squads were in the middle of.
This pacing benefitted Storm’s X-Men squad in particular. With having other teams also be the focus it made the big battle Storm’s X-Men squad found themselves in the middle of much more urgent. This battle also got across the chaos that X-Man is creating over how he views things should be in the world.
The other positive that Uncanny X-Men #5 had was R.B. Silva’s artwork. This was by far the best artwork that Silva has done. With so many different types of locations to draw Silva got across how X-Man is changing things in the world by simply using his powers. He also did a very good job making the battle between the X-Men, Magneto and Angel come across as big and destructive.
The Bad: Though Uncanny X-Men #5 had by far the best pacing of this newly relaunched series that did not make the story being told anymore intriguing. For how many characters are involved in the chaos that X-Man has created in the world not a lot happens. There was actually very little movement made in the plotline as the two main X-Men teams are left in the same position where they started and the X-Men students just are now deciding to leave the destroyed Xavier Mansion.
The lack of actual forward progress makes Uncanny X-Men #5 the definition of a lot of noise for very little substance. No character felt came across as looking great. It wasn’t until the very end when Psylocke forced Angel to revert to his Archangel form that something actually happened. And even that moment did not come across as a big moment. It was just another typical storyline for Angel based around his Archangel form. For this transformation to be effective there needed to be greater distance from when it last occurred.
The Archangel transformation just speaks to how lackluster the introduction of the Horsemen of Salvation has been. Rather than making Magneto, Angel, Blob and Omega Red interesting characters it has done the very opposite. Each of these characters are husks of who they once were. There is absolutely no personality to anyone of them.
Even with Magneto getting some lines of dialogue to speak on his motivation it all sounded hollow. There was no point in which it sounded like it was Magneto speaking. Instead it just came across as though X-Man was speaking through Magneto thanks to the brainwashing the former iconic X-Men villain went through. In the process it just goes to highlight how much of a waste this role is for such a great character like Magneto.
The problems with the Horsemen of Salvation further highlights how X-Man has yet to be portrayed as a compelling antagonist. Nothing about what X-Man is doing feels unique to him since Rosenberg, Brisson and Thompson completely rushed the character into main antagonist territory. With how Uncanny X-Men has become a weekly comic this series was well positioned to have someone like X-Man be slowly built up. That never happened and the rush nature of what X-Man is doing is showing very quickly to the reader.
Even X-Man’s interaction with Apocalypse fails to carry the weight it should. Given the history between the two in the Age of Apocalypse alternate universe you figure there would be some tension their. Unfortunately that is never something that the reader is given a hint about. Without it X-Man listening to Apocalypse makes him look like a little kid asking for his parents advice on what to do next.
The X-Men also don’t come off better than they entered this issue. Jean Grey and Storm’s X-Men team accomplish very little in Uncanny X-Men #5. Outside of transforming Angel into Archangel they are largely in the same spot of not knowing what is going that they were when this issue started. With how much time has passed it is time for the X-Men to start finding answers rather than just talking about how weird things are in the world, which they’ve been doing since Uncanny X-Men #1.
The lack of forward progress is hurt by the fact that the X-Men students continue to be portrayed as an annoying, self-entitled bunch of kids. Rather than being set up to prove themselves as reliable X-Men, Armor and the others are proving exactly why the Jean and the others don’t have control of any situation they find themselves in. Having Legion around only further damages this plotline since the character has yet to move beyond giving of a psychotic aura.
Overall: Uncanny X-Men #5 attempts to recover a story that has been incredibly lackluster thus far. Unfortunately Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson are unsuccessful in that attempt. The story around X-Man’s plan to “save” the world continues fail to grasp the reader’s attention. At the same time, everything going on is making the X-Men look worse for how they continue to fall further behind on getting any answers. Unless some big developments are made this relaunch of Uncanny X-Men will only continue to get worse before it can even think of getting better.