Hello Clashers. My, my, my. It has been a LONG time since I did one of these. CBC EIC . . . wow, great acronyms there Frank . . . Frankie Rodriguez (aka Seraph) is here to today to give you a look on the other side of the fence.
Last week, Hector Ramirez broke down the new status quo as we inspected the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning with our review of the first 3 issues of Wolverine & the X-Men. Since this jumps off after Schism and Hector already described it last week, no need for me to exposite about it again.
This week, We go back to Utopia and look at how Cyclops's side operates as we begin the next chapter of their evolution.
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!
You have been warned. And now, our review of Uncanny X-Men, Volume 2, #1-3.
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Jorge Molina, Rodney Buchemi, Paco Diaz (He's all over the X-franchise these days) , Roger Bonet, Walden Wong, Cam Smith.
Colors by Frank D'Armata, Rachelle Rosenberg, Jorge Molina, Jim Charalampidis, Dommo, Rex Lokus
Review by Frankie Rodriguez (Seraph)
Ubersuck Crown – Run away from the story &/or book. It is bad. Treat it like the plague. Think of it as a 1 or 1 star. Pretty much VERY BAD.
Cruiserweight Contender – A book that has some great flash and ability to entertain for a while. Not a definite buy but still not too bad. It’s ok. Aka 2 stars.
X Division Contender- Something that is out there. Brings out something a little different. Something entertaining and over all enjoyable but still not enough to make a huge impact. 3 stars or Average.
Intercontinental Contender – Something polished, some what thought provoking. Great story telling. Fair characterization but things not completely utilized to the best of their ability more than it should. Something that is on the verge of greatness but just falls short. Good or 4 stars.
World Heavyweight Contender – Outstanding. Great art. Great characterization. Great storyline. Excellent plot. Outstanding use of characters, area. Great use of new concepts or old concepts in a new way. Frellin’ awesome or 5 stars.
We open our book with a nice, scenic tour of San Francisco and get exposition as to why it is one of the most welcoming places on Earth: allowing everyone from artists to hippies to mutants all living there . . . plus the GIANT Golden Dreaming Celestial. I mean, the Celestial is huge! REALLY, REALLY HUGE. Did I mention he was Huge?
As the tour continues, San Francisco's little tour guide "book" gives us information about Utopia and the X-Men: like how no one can visit the island as per orders of King Namor or how if you want to see the X-Men, tour buses stop a premiere X-Men patrol spots. Yes, folks. Cyclops has allowed the X-Men to become a tourist attraction. *sarcastic thumbs up*
As the tour exposition finishes, we find a couple in front of the HUGE Dreaming Celestial. (For those not in the know: Celestials are UBER powerful beings that are just . . . well, put it this way . . . they are stronger than Galactus and can destroy the world with a thought.) They were reading said exposition and talking about the Dreaming Celestial when they are suddenly assaulted by a man with black hair and a white face. Oh my God, It's Antonio Bandares's character from Interview With A Vampire!! Nah! It's just Mr. Sinister; looking quite dapper in his Victorian styled clothing and . .. killing the couple he just met with a sword in his cane. Yeah . . . I bet they weren't expecting that on their trip. Sinister goes on, in a very gentlemanly evil manner, about how humanity are not the top 2 species on Earth. He turns his cane around and taps the leg of the Dreaming Celestial with it's ruby top and . . . finds a doorway and walks in.
After that interesting opening, we cut to Utopia where Scott (Cyclops) is talking with Emma. Emma asks if ole one eye is nervous and Scott answers with his "now" usual bravado of confidence; saying how people have tried to kill him cause of who he is, blah, blah, Heart of the Cards. Oh wait! Wrong time to insert that. Emma goes on that showing nervousness is okay and that while he's a weakling, she is the living embodiment of perfection.
The two enter the room to see an assembly of X-Men and others there: Namor, Magneto (yes he's a good guy now), Magik (yes, she's alive and she's not evil anymore), Danger (yes she is good & not evil anymore . . .), Colossus (who now has the powers of the Juggernaut) . . . I am noticing a very distrubing pattern here. You want to guess what it is? The team rounds out with Hope Summers (Scott's granddaughter) and Storm. Cyclops first words to them is that they are his "Extinction team."
Okay? Extinction Team. Right? Anyone else not loving the name?
Cyclops explains that because of the Schism between him and Wolverine; excuse me, the fact that the Westchester School reopened that they in Utopia are gonna have to secure the future and make a larger statement with this team. Cyclops goes on about how they have always been "Earth's Mighiest Heroes" and that this team will show the world that; and while safe guarding the world and mainly mutantkind is one of their top objectives; they want to show the world that it needs them. And to be afraid of them till they can fix mutant and human relations. Cyclops had even gone so far as to say that :
"If we're going to be considered a rogue state . . . Well, what's the difference between Iraq and North Korea. Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction and every time this team goes into the field, we remind the world we do."
Our Fearless Leader, ladies and gentlemen.
Storm then points out all the overt problems with this idea, including the name and the fact that only 3 of them have not gone through a villain phase. Storm questions if Scott is sure when Emma replies that they are working on it. Scott details that if they are scared of them, they won't attack "Logan's little school" or any mutant for that matter. Can't disagree with that.
After going through some exposition, a week passes and S.W.O.R.D's director and Beast's main squeeze, Abigail Brand, contacts Scott and Emma about the Dreaming Celestial showing activity. She states she wanted to talk to them first before calling the Avengers when Scott says not to bother calling them cause if they can't handle it, no one can.
Magik teleports the majority of the team to meet the Dreaming Celestial and Sinister wastes no time revealing himself in grand fashion . . . by transforming the head of the Dreaming Celestial into a golden version of himself while having other parts of the Dreaming Celestial be attack bots to fight the X-Men. After some flirting between Emma and Namor, he, Storm and Magneto join the point. The fight is brutal for the first outing for the Extinction Team (Wow! I really am saying that.) and we see it. From a small hole on Colossus's chest that makes him turn on the rage and magically fueled Juggernaut powers to seeing Emma Frost holding her own severed arm . . . IN DIAMOND FORM. Finding themselves slightly overwhelmed, the group figures out the smaller robots are controlled by electromagnetism. Magneto decides to stop the little Celestial robots . .. by become it's new head and spine. Yay!
Sinister lands the head at the Palace of Fine Arts and uses the energy of the Celestial to make . . . well, more of him. LOTS more of him. As most of the X-Men are surrounded, Hope mimics of the powers of Emma Frost and falls back while the others enter the Palace of Fine Arts. As Sinisters continue to walk around, Hope goes to a rooftop and does something her daddy Cable taught her; using a sniper rifle to kill as many Sinisters as she can.
Meanwhile, the X-Men gaze upon Sinister on a golden throne with an army of Sinisters around them. Of course, this was minutes after Abigail told them that other Celestials are coming to Earth. As Namor makes a funny that the X in X-Men is about the target on their backs, Sinister exposites about his past till now. How the Summers DNA and all that he's done over the years have lead up to this moment. And how Sinister is a different race of his own, believe that the world would be much better if EVERYTHING was Sinister, literally. And that the use of the Dreaming Celestial would bring the others to Earth so they can destroy it utterly except for him. As Storm and Emma points out how Sinister is gloating and being very annoying, Sinister continues his gentlemanly evil speech with details on the recent schism between the X-Men.
After the X-Men refuse to surrender to him, Sinister forces Cyclops to blast at Piotr in order for him to control Piotr. Sinister gains control of all but Emma, Danger, Hope and Magneto. Danger gets blown to bits and Emma puts a simple plan in motion where Hope teleports out (mimicking Magik's powers). Sinister goes on about Emma's little gamble when he is then shot in the Head by Hope's rifle. Yet, with all the Sinisters, Sinister's mind moves to another body; only to have his head crushed by Piotr. Hope teleports in to shoot the latest Sinister in charge (Surreal huh?) but only gets knocked back. Emma tells Namor to hold her severed arm which the Atlantean mutant thinks it is Emma returning his affections. Namor holds it and Emma goes flesh to use her telepathy to take down Sinister when she realizes that Sinister was using Scott's mind in order to take down the others. Danger also lays an assists saying how Sinister is beyond redemption. All but one Sinister melts away. The man tells them that he will continue to evolve to be better while he gave them a grand show in order to prove themselves as "Earth's Greatest Heroes." Sinister then teleports the Palace of Fine Arts away, returns the head on the Dreaming Celestial and then shoots himself in the head with a pistol.
Before the X-Men can breathe, Magneto summons them back. Magik teleports in the rest of the team as the HUGE Dreaming Celestial now has friends on Earth. A LOT of HUGE FRIENDS. Before Cyclops says anything else, he checks on Magneto and tells Emma to leave for the second time during this storyline (first time was before they walked to meet Sinister) and Emma reminds him that it is not everyday that anyone stares down a large group of Celestials and goes along. Cyclops explains that the world is under their protection and that means protecting the Dreaming Celestial as well. Hope adds that they should leave. And with a point of the Dreaming Celestial, the other Celestials fly off Earth. Hope makes a comment to call the Avengers to tell them that they've been made obsolete and our book ends with Cyclops saying that a crowd of people who watched what happened are saying or doing nothing and that becoming the world's mightiest team of heroes is gonna take a lot of work.
The new status quos of both factions of X-Men have been building for ages now and the pay off seems to be good. With that said, I am gonna be focusing on what I just described. With that said, this was a fairly good opening. It establishes a new status quo for the X-Men and really feels like a new beginning. And I don't mean that just for the split. Cyclops is nearly unfiltered, except for Storm watching him and we are seeing what Cyclops will do with little to no one saying what he is doing wrong.
We get good impressions of many of the characters, such as Namor, Cyclops, Emma, Hope, Colossus, Magneto and Storm but it felt as though Magik and Danger has very small roles in this story. While it is a big team and I understand why each member was chosen, two members of said team seem to have had little consequence to the story. And while I can give a little leeway cause it is the first 3 issues, if you are going to introduce a new team, we should have had good character moments with all of them. Danger had a good spot in #3 but otherwise used for joking purposes. Magik . . . was just kind of there.
Artistically, the books were solid. Even with the multiple pencils, the differences in style didn't hurt the story. The scope and colors were beautiful. And each of the characters were very distinct in style and look. The artists took full advantage of those and used them well. Yet, many of the art seemed to be relying on exposition more than the picture itself to tell a story.
So, my main gripes would be how the large cast was handled and the story had some holes in its plot. While the characterizations were amazing and the art was good, this opening arc seemed to have some plot holes that were not easy to ignore. Like how does Sinister know how to go inside a Celestial? What was that ruby on his staff? All Magik seemed to be there for was for her teleportation powers and keep Piotr calm. Yet, Magik could have teleported them without going with them and Storm could have fulfilled the whole keeping Piotr calm role. The premise and the reasoning are good, no matter how much I want to punch Cyclops in the throat. And the final death of Sinister just seemed a tad unnecessary but that is just personal opinion.
All in all, Uncanny X-Men, Volume 2, starts off with a Bang and ends with you wanting to get on the ride again, even though you feel a little dizzy. The characterizations were great, good solid art but it was bogged down by plotholes and lack of spotlight for characters that are main characters in the book.
Thus Uncanny X-Men #1-3 gets an X-Division Spot (3 out of 5).
Ah. THAT FELT GOOD! And yes, I will be doing more of these from time to time. Remember to check out all our other news and content from Comic Book Clash and J1 Studios. Til next time, Clashers.