Uncanny X-Men #529

Uncanny X-Men #529

D+

It pains me to say it, but this issue is a mess. I’ve been reading X-Men comics since I started reading comics and have really enjoyed Matt Fraction’s run on the series so far, but this issue has some pretty unforgivable problems. We pick up at the end of last issue as Hope, Rogue and the first three of the “Five Lights” are tracking down the fourth new mutant to appear since Hope’s return to the present in Miami, where this new and apparantly feral mutant likes to harass well-to-do club-going women. Meanwhile Emma Frost and Kitty Pryde are putting their plan to sneak Sebastian Shaw out of the X-Brig into motion by enlisting the help of Fantomex.

Oh man, where to begin? First off, the art is something of a disaster… I’ve long been a fan of Whilce Portacio’s work but comprehending the action on the pages in this issue—especially in the opening scene—is a real challenge. Figures in the background vanish and reappear from panel to panel to the point where I actually thought teleporation was involved, but that definitely turned out to not be the case. I was definitely looking forward to a run of issues featuring Portacio on pencils, but his run has been uneven at best, and holding true to the reputation of the Image founders he wasn’t able to complete the full issue under deadline and the last few scenes of the book are drawn by a fill-in artist, and the change in styles is jarring to say the least.

While it’d be nice to lump all the blame on Whilce Portacio, I do think editorial has to shoulder some of the burden as well. Mr. Portacio is pretty well-known for late work, and he has been battling diabetes for the last decade—I believe he even fell into a diabetic coma at one point in the early 2000′s—so perhaps some more lead time on this issues should’ve been supplied. When his art doesn’t seem rushed it can be among the most exciting and dynamic in the business, and having his return to pencil the X-Men—Portacio made his name in the 90′s drawing X-Factor and then Uncanny X-Men—being capped off by another artist is just such a big letdown.

But the art is only the tip of the iceberg. Last month’s cliffhanger that Kitty Pryde was on board to help Emma Frost dispose of Sebastian Shaw was pretty shocking and exciting… only here in this issue we see that Kitty Pryde contributes, well, absolutely nothing to this so-called heist. Fraction’s buildup led me to believe that Kitty would finally be able to overcome, or at the very least, find a way to put her current phased state to use to assist Emma in her plot. But no, she merely walks around in a special “phase-suit” designed by the X-Club and mentally talks Emma’s ear off while Fantomex does all of the heavy lifting in their jailbreak.

To top things off, their supposedly well thought out ruse to sneak Shaw past Danger—who guards the X-Men’s prisoners—was apparantly all for nothing as it’s revealed that Danger was onto their plan from the beginning. So yeah, not sure what this plotline accomplished as Sebastian Shaw is still Frost’s prisoner, only now in a different location? The issue ends with a monologue by Emma that’s supposed to somehow justify her line of thinking, but it meant nothing to me, perhaps I was still a little stung by the futility of their actions.

But the real crime by Mr. Fraction in this issue is to not even supply us with a resolution to the big “Fight Lights” story arc. After teasing at Wolverine and Cyclops in Japan to uncover the fifth “light” we don’t even get that far. Instead once Hope and Rogue track down and subdue mystery mutant #4 we find out the storyline concludes not in the next Uncanny X-Men but in the spinoff series Generation Hope which comes out next week. Now, this may not all be Mr. Fraction’s fault, but some marketing ploy by Marvel, but someone should be strung up for this. I like Hope as a character and a concept but I had absolutely no interest in the Generation Hope series when it was announced a few months ago. To have 4/5 of a story appear in one title only to conclude is the first issue of another series just wreaks of money-grubbing marketing. I’m sure I’ll find a way to read the conclusion of this story—because it started as an Uncanny X-Men story I’m sure it’ll impact what’s to come in the series—but I’ll be damned if Marvel is going to get my four bucks when I do.

tags: matt fraction, whilce portacio, x-men

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