Overview

Uncanny X-Men #475 (ADVANCE)

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Uncanny X-Men #475 (ADVANCE)

Credits

  • Words: Ed Brubaker
  • Art: Billy Tan
  • Inks: Danny Miki
  • Colors: Frank D?Armata
  • Story Title: The Rise and Fall Of the Shi?Ar Empire, Chapter 1 ? Plan B
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 5, 2006

A new writer and artist come aboard to take a new team of X-Men from the pages of Deadly Genesis into the great unknown…deep space.

It’s a time of transition for mutants in general and The X-Men in general. In the wake of their latest battle with Apocalypse, Polaris finds herself in Cairo, on the run from an anti-Apocalypse cult. Charles finds himself a normal human with no mutant powers among those who do not see him as they once did. And a reconfigured X-Men tries to gel as a team. They’ll get ample opportunity. First, they must rescue Polaris, but this operation is only the first part of a larger plan. To no avail, Xavier has been trying to contact Lilandra of The Shi’Ar Empire about Vulcan, an Omega-level mutant and Summers brother who’s headed straight for them with vengeance on his mind. Xavier and The X-Men need to cross great distances in a short time, but they may already be too late.

A new writer, new artist, new X-team, and a year-long story-arc would all seem to be about transition for Uncanny X-Men. But "transition" is too kind a word. "Redemption" is much more apt—not just for the characters, but for the title, as well. Polaris and Warpath set the tone in this respect, but from beginning to end, it’s Xavier who’s truly in need of redemption. He’s responsible for what Vulcan has become and needs to set things right; but having been the ultimate insider on this team, he’s now an outsider and needs to prove that he still belongs. Still, Xavier without powers is still a formidable character, and it’s here that new writer Ed Brubaker makes his greatest impression on the reader.

Few long-running comics are in need of redemption like Uncanny X-Men, much of Chris Claremont’s last run feeling like a loveless marriage, fans like me holding on for a glimpse of the magic that made us love it in the first place. It’s too soon to pass judgment, but from page 1 Uncanny X-Men #475 feels like the breath of fresh air we’ve been hoping for. We also get a harder edge, too. The melodrama that weighed the title down is gone, and in its place Brubaker injects politics, or rather politicking. Dynamically plotting this issue, he skillfully utilizes flashbacks showing Xavier as he tries to rebuild bridges. Likewise, Brubaker displays a deep feel for who these characters are. But the real story in this issue is the way Xavier works a room like a senior senator, the way he doesn’t need telepathic powers at all to find something—history, insecurities, some amount of trust that’s still left—to affirm his bonds with his team while also leveraging those very same things to solidify his own position with the Institute. Consider Warpath for instance, Xavier making what would seem an unwise choice in adding him to the team. By the end of the issue, however, it’s a master stroke, as he begins to establish himself as the heart of this team. Already we can see Brubaker setting up both internal and external conflicts for a strong group of characters that also has a great potential for dramatic instability.

Like Steve McNiven on Civil War, Billy Tan has taken this opportunity to up his game, and after one issue he’s running with it like Quicksilver would if he still had super-speed. You name it, Tan pulls it off in this issue with style and panache. His high-impact linework is slick and elegant. He fills his panels with rich detail but doesn’t confuse the eye thanks to a great sense of managing distances and angles. And he’s a strong storyteller, his characters very often telling the story within each panel with their expressions. But though Tan’s talents are considerable, credit inker Danny Miki and colorist Frank D’Armata for helping to take his artwork to the next level. With them onboard, Tan’s art has a depth and texture that his previous work doesn’t.

This first chapter looks like the Uncanny X-Men story we’ve been waiting for.

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