Uncanny X-Men #471


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Uncanny X-Men #471


  • Words: Chris Claremont
  • Art: Billy Tan
  • Inks: Sibal and Tan
  • Colors: Brian Haberlin and Avalon
  • Story Title: Wand?ring Star Part 3: Glory Days
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.50
  • Release Date: Mar 29, 2006

The Shi’ar Death Commandoes have escaped and are gunning for Marvel Girl. Who should the X-Men be trying to save?

In the past few issues of Uncanny X-Men, Claremont has done his best to make Rachel Grey’s (Marvel Girl) life a living hell. First, he killed off her entire family and had her grandma curse her, then he gave her a permanent and unwanted tattoo, and now he is zeroing in for the kill. Issue #471 begins with a bang as the Shi’ar Death Commandos find Marvel Girl at a therapist’s office in Chicago and begin their mission anew. This leads to a brawl in the Windy City involving bystanders, an L-train, and a cop actually doing her job. The X-Men, along with a O*N*E Sentinel, are en route. But all of this seems fruitless because orbiting the earth is a Shi’ar shuttle whose captain has issued an order to blow up everything, friend or foe, within a hundred mile radius of Rachel. It sounds deceptively new, but it feels so old...

Claremont has the X-Men fighting Shi’ar and a girl with red hair having issues with the Phoenix force. Okay, yes, you’re right. This tale has been told again, and again . . . and again. And perhaps this is the only real problem with this comic book. Claremont made the X-Men what they are today—the most popular group of superheroes out there. But the current story arcs ring of his older tales, which were excellent in their own right, at their own time. The X-Men have changed so much since Claremont originally left, having him write Uncanny X-Men now can only truly appeal to those who pine for some mystical and nonexistent "glory days" of comic books you may hear older collectors babbling about at the shop on Wednesday.

True, there is one comedic scene involving a Sentinel, of all things. And the team roster is eclectically impressive. With Nightcrawler and Marvel Girl headlining, the group is rounded out by Cannonball, Psylocke, and Bishop. The latter three have been second-stringers for a long time and seeing them in a book without Cyclops, Storm, or Wolverine shouting or touting off words of wisdom is fun and hopefully will elevate their collective status. But, when characters have been around as long as the X-Men, and when there are so many of them it is as if they are omnipresent at times, one must find something new in each issue or one quickly loses interest. Though they are action packed, well written, and perfectly paced, the stories ring of tales already told.

But if the writing isn’t always 100% on, the art is. The fill-in artist, Tan, is at least, appealing, at most, exceptional. His characters are simple. His lines are thin and tight. The action, the paneling—everything is well done. But frankly, the most impressive aspect of his art is what he does with the backgrounds. When Cannonball flies over a city, we see a magnificent skyline and winding streets populated with people, not just blurry lines. In the short back story involving Storm and Wolverine, thanks to what we see around them, it is clear they are in Africa. But neither is this overpowering. Tan’s backgrounds are the kind we want in our lives: they are nice to look at, but never take away from the story.

Claremont’s God Loves, Man Kills is the best X-Men tale ever told. Unfortunately for the reader, Claremont’s current run on Uncanny X-Men does not compare with his past. Despite that, Tan, the fill-in artist right now, would be more than welcome to bring his renderings to the book on a regular basis.

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