Brian Bendis left the Avengers only to take on the equally mammoth set of characters of the X-Men. All New X-Men seemed to be out every week but now has slowed to a normal place but this, it’s sister book, is rushing out the blocks to catch up. I find it a little disjointed and I doubt the stories will merge for a while. It frustrates me because I want to see the point of the younger X-Men. Despite this Bendis has produced two books of excellent character analysis and profiling, not a lot has happened, but there is plenty of worthwhile superhero rhetoric to keep us entertained. By his side is Chris Bachalo, whose name is synonymous with many an X-book. He has a quirky and unusual style, which is very suited to the lighter-hearted books. Uncanny X-Men takes the side of adult Cyclops and his developing school of new mutants. With Magneto, Emma and Magik by his side, you can easily be mistaken for thinking them the bad guys.
Bendis reunites Cyclops with the Avengers under pretty stressful circumstances. The ensuing argument over who was right and who killed Xavier is apropos to assigning blame in the school playground. It is simple bickering and senseless arguing, but for what its worth is well written. Amongst these recycled lines, we have nice touches of dialogue from the new mutants in Scott’s group. These youngsters are firmly grounded in reality and provide the voice of the excited, scared and youthfully exuberant. There are some lovely naïve whispers. When Scott’s recruit, Eva Bell enters the playground as an actual child, she brings reason and balance to the conversation. Bendis provides a new voice to the fray, with the X-Men and Avenger behaving as expected. There is an actual progression from the bar set at AvX.
Chris Bachalo is an interesting artist. His splash pages and grandstanding superhero teams are brilliant, and there is certainly an epic feel to Cyclops’s call to arms. His panelling is incorporated into emphasising the scene. The boxes come in different sizes and accommodate the point of view he wishes to express; I love the diagonal sloping boxes he uses. When the characters are just talking, he tries to focus on different people and the interesting expression. When he draws from a middle distance the detailing is lost, and sometimes the pencilling is a bit thick. This can lead to a murky effect, especially if the colouring is dark. When it is kept black and white, as on the first page, it looks wonderful. Bendis maintains a subtle humour undertone going with the teenagers and together with the strange mutant power manifestations, keeps Bachalo’s art a solid accompaniment.
There is a single page in this book which demonstrates the problem with the Avengers vs Scott dichotomy. Eva addresses the balance of racism by interrupting Cap and tells him of her experiences. This is quite a moving panel and beautifully highlights the struggle of new mutants. This is what Scott has been trying to express for a long time now and what he has been trying to prevent: persecution of new mutants. His approach may or may not be partly responsible for the reactionary responses. That is not to say that Cap hasn’t addressed these concerns, because in Uncanny Avengers he integrating mutants and Avengers into a single team. The only remaining problem, as far as I can see, is who is responsible for the death of Xavier. This is clearly a difficult judgement as he was killed in battle when Scott was possessed by the Phoenix. Which could easily be argued was because of Iron Man. Instead of Eva calming the situation with her interlude, we move into another unnecessary reactionary response: Hawkeye readying an arrow to the X of Cyclops’s headgear. This then stupidly triggers a rallying cry to an impending battle. Eva shines by unleashing her mutant ability and nullifying the situation, peacefully. Bendis then allows the world to see the persecution of mutants via social media and Scott comes across as the strong misunderstood leader. The conversation between Eva and her mother is beautifully poignant, in displaying the lack if understanding of the mutant struggle. Her character brings refreshment to a stale staple theme of the Avengers and X-Men. Simply written and beautifully demonstrated by a new mutant who has more sense than anyone else in the comic. I really hope we see more of Eva Bell.
“This is so much better than Netflix”