Marvel's Uncanny X-Men #1 Looks Epic But It's Missing Something (Review)
It's been 18 months in Marvel's history where there's been no ongoing Uncanny X-Men comics and now the relaunch is bringing together multiple writers for one weekly ten-issue epic. This time, the storyline is called X-Men Disassembled an obvious nod to the 2004 Avengers Disassembled storyline.
Uncanny X-Men #1 has 64 pages and features two different stories divided into five parts. The lead story called Disassembled Part 1 brings together Marvel's all-star roster of writers Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, and Kelly Thompson with artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg to put together the issue's main event. The writing team splits up for the latter half of the book called What Tomorrow Brings, a prologue to the main story with each of the three parts featuring a different artist and focusing on a different character.
The hope for the new X-Men series is that it would introduce a new mutant conflict but Issue #1 struggles to establish a clear new mutant conflict. The main story puts readers in a strange conflict with little context, raising some mysterious questions like "Where is Kitty Pryde?". The medias res approach has a blockbuster feel to it as the main story features epic fight scenes, explosive action, plenty of superhero spectacle, and some surprises throughout, but its jumbled approach to storytelling and lack of explanation of why it's subtitled "X-Men Disassembled" fails to give the series the momentum it needed to revive the franchise.
The issue's plot rehashes a bunch of things we've seen in previous X-Men stories: talk of a mutant vaccine, a massive clash between two mutant groups, an anti-mutant senator who's the target of an apparent assassination attempt, just like in Days of Future Past. Even Jubilee comments on how she feels like she's heard the senator's speech many times before. The mysterious threat is the most intriguing. It would make you wonder who's powerful enough to capture one of X-Men's most powerful villains but the latter story doesn't do anything to generate excitement for the main conflict.
Despite the issue's haphazard narrative, Uncanny features some awesome superhero spectacle thanks to artist Mahmud Asrar, who previously worked on X-Men Red. He proves once again that he's a great fit for the franchise as he emphasizes the characters' intense emotions. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg does a fantastic job filling the pages with bright colors that give the story a more '90s feel. The epic artworks like the one below effective highlight the mutants' powers, giving them a chance to shine.
While the issue makes it clear that there are high stakes involved even though we don't know exactly where it leads yet, Uncanny has some lightness to the dialogue that keeps the story fun. Even one chaotic scene with Multiple Man has some hilarious moments.
Despite all the fun and visual spectacle, the issue lacks an emotional hook. The issue gives us no reason to care about the fate of the characters. So what if Kitty Pryde was missing? Hopefully, the next issue will fill up this void.
The issue's backup stories add some visual diversity and mystery while giving us a closer look at some mutants like Bishop, Jean Grey, Armor, and Anole. It's expected that these loose ends will come together with the main plot eventually.
Overall, Uncanny X-Men #1 is loaded with some awesome superhero visuals we expect from a great X-Men title but even with 64 pages, the story fails to generate excitement because of its lack of an emotional hook, context, central conflict, and an explanation that would make us care about the mutants. The amazing artwork and fun dialogue are not enough to give this relaunch the spark it needs to rekindle the franchise. The whole issue feels more like a long extended trailer rather than a catchy beginning of a blockbuster movie.
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, & Kelly Thompson
Art by Mahmud Asrar
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg