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Uncanny X-Men #600 [Review]

uncannyxmen600Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin
Colors: Marte Gracia, Jason Keith, Chris Bachalo, Frazer Irving
Cover: Chris Bachalo
Lettering & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editors: Christina Harrington, Xander Jarowey
Editors: Mike Marts and Mark Paniccia
Published by: Marvel
Cover Date: January 2016
Cover Price: $5.99

Winter Carnival

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Alfredo Alcala
Letterer: Janice Chiang
Cover Art: Paul Gulacy
Associate Editor: Ralph Macchio
Editor: Dennis O’Neil

The first X-Men comic I clearly, consciously remember getting is Uncanny X-Men #300. The costumes, the characters, the cover–it fit the then-current animated series on tv that I was getting familiar with, and had a nice shiny cover to draw extra attention (to say nothing of being a thicker cover physically, making for a durable, high-quality issue to hold).

Several years later I picked up #400, and then years after that 500–though I hadn’t kept up with every issue of the title.

So again now, I bought #600 despite not being entirely current on the title (and overlooking the multiple reboots between the last legitimately-numbered issue and this) because of having bought the last several 100-issue round-number issues when they came up. Some 22 years after getting #300, here I am with #600.

My understanding is that this is Bendis‘ final X-Men issue, as far as being the driving force behind the main X-books. Despite catching up a fair bit on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men recently via Marvel‘s Digital Unlimited, I’m still a bit out of the loop on whatever’s transpired between where I left off there and stuff immediately prior to Secret Wars and the Last Days stuff. But I do know the characters and the bulk of recent stuff in the most general of terms.

This issue finds Beast (Hank McCoy) experiencing an “intervention” by his teammates, forcing him to confront what he’s done of late–with emphasis on having time-traveled to bring the original X-Men into the present where they’re now stuck. Amidst the intervention/confrontation, we get some flashes to a number of smaller interactions–“original” Jean wants to leave the group for awhile; “original” Bobby confronts current Bobby on repressed feelings; Kitty, Colossus, and Illyana catch up with each other, and so on. Meanwhile, we also see Scott Summers’ recent dream to fruition…and it proves to be just a bit different than we’ve been led to believe.

We also get a lengthy “backup story” by Perez, a solo Iceman thing, that while it looks good does not feel particularly relevant nor current. It seems set in the early 1970s, though it feels like a more recent piece. The art is very good–I usually do enjoy Perez‘ art–though I don’t entirely appreciate the black-and-white instead of color. Perhaps it was intended this way, maybe it was a stylistic choice, but that contributes to it not feeling like it belongs in this issue.

The main feature’s story is solid enough, and though it doesn’t feel like an ongoing issue but more like a one-shot, it works decently enough as itself, as what it is. At the same time, I’m not thrilled at what appears to be Bendis trying to cement several key points just before taking off, like he has to solidify or shoehorn in some stuff to force subsequent writers to address things or leave Bendis‘ work to be an absolute character element. I do definitely approve of the supposed conclusion of the Cyclops arc, and hope to see stuff picked up on, that it’d “redeem” the villanous element applied to the character over the last several years.

Visually…while I appreciate the CONCEPT of letting a bunch of artists work on the issue as “the” big anniversary issue…I can really do without it. The shifting visual styles is distracting and draws attention to stuff in a way that takes away from the otherwise-natural shifting nature of the story, giving us some smaller character moments while addressing the larger overall confrontation with Beast.

I definitely enjoyed Perez‘ work on the Iceman story…but it’s such an unrelated thing that I’m honestly resentful at its inclusion, at this issue being over-priced at $6 over the “standard” $4 just for the story’s inclusion. Better a $3.99 issue without it than $5.99 WITH. That said, the story would work as some bonus/extra cheap attraction, as it really has nothing to do with current continuity, and has no likely/obvious ongoing elements to contribute to stuff, other than being a ’70s-looking/’70s-sounding story.

The main story’s art was distracting…and I was reminded how recognizable and unwelcome (to me) Bachalo‘s art is amidst it all…especially for the cover. It’s also very disappointing that the cover looks like it’s half of or one of several “panels” of a larger image, without even a wraparound…only a bunch of variants.

I bought this issue personally for being the anniversary issue, being the actual high-number or “legacy-numbered” issue. That’s for the personal element of having got #300 off the shelf, and each subsequent 100-numbered issue. In and of itself, if you have followed Bendis‘ X-work, you’ll want to pick this up. Otherwise, this is quite skippable for whatever will be ‘current” moving forward. Outside of whatever closure you’d get having followed this series, and/or All-New X-Men, I’d suggest skipping this and waiting for whatever nearest #1 most directly follows and grabs your attention.

All-New X-Men #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Fear Itself #3 [Review]

Full review posted to cxPulp.com.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

X-Factor #2 [Review]

classicreviewlogowhiteQuick Rating: Good
Title: Star Power

Summary: The fate of Rictor, Madrox confronts his dupe, Layla makes herself useful, and things progress on their course…

xfactor002 Writer:
Peter David
Pencils: Ryan Sook & Dennis Callero
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger & Dennis Callero
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Production: Brad Johansen
Asst. Editors: Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson
Editor: Andy Schmidt
Cover Art: Ryan Sook
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Marvel‘s recap page works particularly well here, as it not only recaps the previous issue, but shows (I think full-sized) the central point of the final page of # 1…and though we cut immediately to a "meanwhile," it brings the reader back in enough to have that bit of tension necessary for when we get to the fate of Rictor, who was unceremoniously shoved off the edge of a building by one of Jamie’s dupes in the previous issue.

Layla Miller integrates herself into the team, proving some immediate usefulness, though her explanation for knowing things seems to get on Guido’s nerves. We get a glimpse at the "bad guys" orchestrating some behind-the-scenes events, and a mysterious figure that I’m not even going to try guessing at the identity.

Overall, this issue picks up the threads of the previous issue, and advances the story a bit–resolving a key point of that issue, as well as introducing new elements to the main story, and setting things up for future issues. If the issue seems a bit choppy, it’s from juggling Rictor’s fate, X-Factor HQ, Jamie and confronting his dupe, and other elements of the story in the confines of a single, regular-sized comic. Despite that, fans of these characters–and present writer Peter David–will likely find little complaint other than the next issue not being out yet.

The art works well with the story, keeping a visual/stylistic difference from "standard fare" X-stuff, as well as the noir tone the story carries.

A brief exchange between a couple characters provides an interesting meta-textual commentary on the tile of the "Decimation" event this title is a part of, both addressing reader concerns of no thought going to it as well as providing a jab at the media.

On the whole, this is another fine issue of a fairly distinctive title. If you don’t care about any of the characters or the writer (or the art team), then don’t expect to like it. However, if you enjoy PAD‘s writing, and/or the characters, or even just the art on these particular characters, you will very likely enjoy the issue.
If you’re just curious about things, this is just the second issue–shouldn’t be too hard to locate a copy of the first issue (in whatever print edition) and jump on the ride. Recommended.

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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