Uncanny X-Men #520

22nd January 2010 | by | No Comments

Uncanny 520This week saw the release of a charming, if far from perfect, issue of an intriguing series. Unfortunately, Seb has beaten me to the punch on Joe The Barbarian, and so for the second month in a row, Comics Daily is going to take a look at events off the coast of San Francisco. Then again, there are worse fates than being forced to dwell on an engaging and thoughtfully-characterised, if well-established, book…

Matt Fraction’s assembling of a distinctly oddball cast continues, with Wolverine, Psylocke and Colossus’ trip to the big apple turning up another of the franchise’s misfits as the continue to pursue what’s superficially Nation X’s a-story. Meanwhile, the remainder of the cast continue to cope with life on their artificial island one day at a time. The writer does a good job of retaining the high0flying tone of the book from his more sci-fi initial issues, while still doing justice to the ‘trapped in exile’ scenario. As with last month’s outing, it’s a slid grasp of the iconic core cast, stripped of the superficial irony of the SFX arc, which provides the backbone of the title.

If there’s one part of the book which isn’t quite ringing true, it’s Magneto’s rebirth as an altruist. Previous issues struck a nice balance, with the character’s admiration for Neo-Cyclops managing to square the circle and deliver a compelling reason for Erik to take up residence in the book. Here, however, Magneto is depicted as being somewhat put-upon, with his good intentions distrusted by the other inhabitants of Utopia. Fraction is presumably seeking sympathy for the anti-hero, in order to gain the readership’s acceptance of his addition to the cast, but even considering the retconning away of Grant Morrison’s take on the character, it’s hard to buy him being as completely selfless as is shown here. The solicits have made clear just what his grand gesture of redemption will be, but while the revelation hasn’t spoilt the story in the same way as recent Buffy publicity materials, it calls for a further suspension of disbelief. The other misfortune affecting the book is artistic inconsistency, with the need to give Greg Land and Terry Dodson both prep time for the forthcoming Second Coming event sadly forcing a breakdown in the hitherto-successful policy of rotating the pencillers on alternate arcs. The material frankly deserves better than the resultant relay approach.