Uncanny X-Men #4
Writer: Brain Michael Bendis
Pencils/Colour: Chris Bachalo
Ink: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey & Victor Olazaba
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Bachalo & Townsend
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The mutant revolution takes a baby-step forward this week with Uncanny X-Men #4. While the series has been a highlight of the Now! reboot for many, the shadow of its sister property, All New X-Men, definitely looms large over this redundant issue. Still a high-calibre read, Issue #4 suffers from series writer and X-Men architect Brian Michael Bendis’ decision to re-tell the events from last weeks All New X-Men #10 which causes Uncanny X-Men to lose the momentum the series has just started to build.
With Cyclops’ new mutant school underway, Ol’ One-Eye realizes that his team is seriously under developed. Hoping to add a few players to his game, Cyclops, along with Emma, Magneto and Magik head over to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning looking to recruit. While All New X-Men covered this, and quite well, Uncanny lets us know how the Stepford Cuckoo-Coos came to their decision to join Cyclops last week via a touching psychic reunion with Emma. Meanwhile, in Canada, the young lads Cyclops left behind in his secret base have just discovered the danger room and hilarity ensues!
Uncanny X-Men is a great series. This issue however is not and if you’ve been following All New X-Men, than this issue is frustrating; plain and simple. While it was nice to get the reunion between Emma and the Cuckoo-Coos, the interaction is hardly enough to warrant an entire issue. A couple of panels in All New would have sufficed. Yes, the dialogue is witty, and what happens amongst the lads back at base is fun, you still can’t manage to shake the word ‘filler’ from your thoughts. By the time the cliff-hanger ending rolls around, you’ll wonder why they even bothered with the 21 pages beforehand.
The problems with the dialogue heavy script bleed into the art department as well. Chris Bachalo is no slouch, but his style favours action more than dialogue. The characters seem stiff and almost as bored as the reader. Even distinguishing between Emma and the Cuckoo-Coos proved difficult, as they all carry the same annoyed expression for the majority of the book. It isn’t until the lads battle within the danger room that Bachalo, and the reader, start to enjoy themselves. The fire that carried in the first three issues shines through as Fabio, gold balls flying everywhere, flees in terror from a nasty blue dragon. But this is brief, and before we know it, the issue is over with barely any progress.
With Bendis taking the reins on the two major X-Books, some cross-over scenarios are bound to happen; the problem is with the pacing. Readers are ready to move on from the consequences of last summer’s Avengers Vs. X-Men, yet we remain stuck, plodding along and re-treading a story from last week. If you’re looking to get into Uncanny X-Men, or wondering if you can save your $3 this week, issue #4 is one you may want to pass over. Let’s hope #5 can move along into new territory, while at the same time, picking up the pace.