Monday, June 1, 2009

UXM #362 & X-MEN #82 – December 1998

Uncanny X-Men #362


Credits: Steve Seagle (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Art Thibert & Tim Townsend (inkers), Liquid! Graphics (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Pyro, whose powers are out of control due to the Legacy Virus, is causing havoc in the Midwest. He asks for Professor Xavier, so Nick Fury summons the X-Men for help. Wolverine is finally able to confront Pyro, just as a mystery figure attempts to kidnap him. Pyro forces it to teleport away. His powers then explode, and Nick Fury takes his unconscious body away. The X-Men return home and try to locate Xavier with the Cerebro unit recently mailed to them by Moira MacTaggert. Shadowcat finds two identical readings for Xavier, one in San Francisco, and the other in Tajikistan.

Review: This is the beginning of the “Hunt for Xavier” crossover, which isn’t exactly considered a highlight of the Seagle/Kelly issues. This issue has a rather thin plot, but somehow Seagle manages to fit an excessive amount of word balloons into every page of the story. Bachalo is also cramming almost every page with small panels, which is apparently a quirk that he enjoys. In the end, you’re left with very tiny X-Men buried under a weight of word balloons. The story is already pretty dull, and the cramped look of almost every page doesn’t exactly encourage you to keep reading. Seagle does work in a few nice character moments, such as Marrow’s cynical attitude towards the Professor and Cecilia Reyes’ introduction to Gambit, but this one is mostly boring.

X-Men #82

The Hunt for Charly!

Credits: Joe Kelly (writer), Adam Kubert (penciler), John Dell & Jesse Delperdang (inkers), Richard Isanove (colors), Comicraft (letters)

Summary: Storm, Rogue, Colossus, and Gambit arrive in Tajikistan, where they find a hidden monastery in the snow. After breaking through the door, they discover dead bodies covering the ground. When Colossus touches a mirror, his finger goes through it. The X-Men investigate and find themselves inside a “non-logic” world. By concentrating on their deepest feelings, they’re able to return to reality. They’re greeted by Nina and Renee Majcomb. Nina apologizes for attacking the team, because she mistook them for a monster. She then tells the team that they’ve allowed a real monster to come in, as an animated Cerebro enters.

Production Note: All of the scenes inside the “non-logic” world are digitally painted by Richard Isanove. This is the first time the technique has been used in an X-book (it will show up a few times in the next year, I think exclusively in Adam Kubert’s issues).

Review: This is much more cryptic than the previous chapter, but it’s more fun to read. The combination of Kubert’s art and Isanove’s intricate colors creates a visually stunning issue. Even if much of the story details are left vague, Kelly’s script is strong enough to make the characters interesting, and he uses the “non-logic” world as a way to offer insight into each cast member. None of it is particularly new (Storm feels deeply about the X-Men as a family, Colossus misses his sister, Rogue is still fixated on her night with Gambit months earlier in Antarctica, and Gambit is wrapped up in another mystery -- the Green Mist Lady), but it’s another example of Kelly’s ability to make the story about the characters. Unfortunately, all of the things I like about this issue really have nothing to do with the main story, which is a bad omen for what’s ahead.


Anonymous said...

This is where the whole Kelly/ Seagle run falls apart. The X-Titles are shit until the Morrison run.

wwk5d said...

I didn't mind this story at first, the set-up and first 1/2 are not bad, but it does fall apart in the last issue or so. As for the X-Titles being shit until the Morrison run, that's a bit unfair, and I don't agree. I liked the Davis run. Not the best or most classic, but there is lots of fun, good stuff in that run. The run as a whole is pretty good, though the end of the run is a bit diminished by the ending of 'The Twelve' storyline.

Matt said...

This is where the whole Kelly/ Seagle run falls apart. The X-Titles are shit DURING the Morrison run.There, I fixed it for you!

Sorry, I hate to be snarky, but I absolutely loathed Grant Morrison's work on X-Men. To the point that I removed the title from my pull list for the duration of his tenure. This was the first time in about ten years that I stopped buying X-Men -- I even stuck with it through Chris Claremont's terrible run in 2000! Of course, I still read the issues through friends, but I refused to give Marvel monetary compensation for such incomprehensible, out-of-character, retcon-ridden, costume-less garbage. As I think I said once before, if it weren't for Chuck Austen, Morrision would hold the record in my mind for the worst run of X-Men stories ever committed to paper.

Whew! Sorry. Morrision is a sore spot for me.

Anyway, I don't think I liked "Hunt for Xavier" much either, but I'm not sure. I do know that I liked pretty much all of the Alan Davis run, though!

rob said...

#362 is two good creators just going through the motions, and has never felt lively to me. #82 is much better, with strong character moments and great art. I agree that this story is decent, but loses me in the last couple chapters.

As for the Davis run, I never appreciated it when it came out, except for the art and a few issues here and there, but rereading it a year ago, I was really impressed with the fact that the stories were all moving somewhere and there was general direction to the X-books and their plotlines. Much moreso than the dropped subplot-era of Kelly/Seagle, which doesn't hold up as well in comparison.

Seangreyson said...

I think this era was really defined by good story ideas that fell apart at the end.

This Cerebro arc, Magneto's return / Joseph's death, and even the Twelve all started at least decently before collapsing at the end.

Morrison's run has always bugged me to for some of the same reasons it bugged Matt. The X-men were just horribly out of character for most of it. Many of his concepts that survived the run (Scott/Emma, new characters like the Cuckoos, mutated Beast) survive due to someone else taking them and developing them (Whedon made the Scott/Emma relationship believable as an example).

All in all I generally preferred Claremont's X-treme X-men to Morrison's New X-men of the books coming out at that point.

Matt said...

I actually liked Morrison and Austen's runs. Seriously. Okay, so Austen has some flaws, but I still get that he is fond of the characters, and when he got a character, he actually wrote them pretty well. Kind of like Lobdell.

And Morrison was a fresh of breath air, but then again I was introduced to him through his excellent JLA run, so I was prepared for his quirks. Plus, It helps that I really liked the first two X-Men movies, so the whole black leather costume thing works for me. Out of character? I think he hit the nail on the head with Scott and Jean's relationship. Not that it was a highschool romance that went on too long (THAT was wrong), but that something like Apocalypse taking over his body and Jean getting the Phoenix Force back would put a lot of strain on their relationship. I'm not happy he broke them up, but it was believable and well written.

I get it, Scott and Jean ranks up there with Pete and Mary Jane (oops,sorry Spidey fans). You can have issues with what he did, but no matter how much you disagree with the decision, it was some very good writing. Morrison introduced brand new ideas instead of retreading the same tired tropes that were old over a decade prior. He brought up some interesting questions that seemed obvious in hindsight, yet no writer in the past had ever addressed when it came to mutants. he breathed fresh life into a franchise that was sinking fast, taking the energy of the movies and using it to jump start the X-Men into another era of uber-popularity.

Personally I despise Whedon for bringing back the retreads and nostalgia, because it took the X-Men from a new golden age of fresh ideas and sent it back to the early 80s status quo.

Since then, we've had Brubaker, who wrote them like a bad fan-fic, forcing his ideas of what the X-Men should be over what they've always stood for and sending them to San Fran, the second dumbest move in X-Lore in the past decade. Fraction did THE dumbest move with the creation of Utopia, even more against Xavier's teaching. To me, these two are the worst X-Men writers yet. Say what you will about Morrison and Austen, at least they stayed true to the core concept of the X-men, while these two chuckleheads turned the X-Men into the anti-thesis of what they've always stood for up until Messiah Complex.

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