REVIEW: Uncanny X-Men #5

Strap in, this is going to get bumpy.

I’ve been reviewing this series since issue one and I have been less than supportive of the direction this title has taken since coming back with a new number one. I’ve waiting and whined about how the storyline and the characters didn’t meet my standards; issue after issue just praying that something would evolve out of this mess that would give X-Fans a glimmer of hope. After this issue it looks like that moment is never going to come.

Last issue I warned fans to steer clear of this title as it was starting to smoke, and unless the creative team or Marvel editorial intervened to change the direction of this book they would have a full-blown dumpster fire on their hands…well call the fire department because we now have ignition. Let’s take Greg Land and the artwork out of this argument. Land does not happen to be a bone of contention for me, sure he has his detractors, but I’ve always enjoyed his style. I have no problem with Mr. Land, Mr. Leisten, Mr. Woodard or Mr. Caramagna; my fight lies with Cullen Bunn.
Last review I openly questioned why a writer who has entertained and executed brilliantly on other books has had such a rough time making this very popular comic work. I’ve read and enjoyed other Bunn penned titles, so before anyone says I’m just openly hating on a creator I want you to know that I think Mr. Bunn has had other successes, this just does not happen to be one of them.

So let’s break this book down beat by beat (WARNING THERE WILL BE SPOILERS) and see if we can figure out where the train left the tracks; I do feel like a CSI examiner that is looking over the wreckage of a disaster, I think that’s a fair analogy. So snap on your rubber gloves and let’s dig in…

Let’s start with the team itself. Right out of the gate I had misgivings about the line up that Uncanny had been brought back with. Magneto and Sabretooth on a X-team? Bunn is not the first to blur the lines of old enemies trying to turn over a new leaf, but this duo on the same squad is just telegraphing to the reader to start a mental timer for betrayal. Mags and Creed are going to turn on the team or each other before another three issues of this series comes out. It’s going to happen. I don’t need to sit in on a Marvel editorial meeting to know the outcome of the plot, it’s so paper-thin at this point that anyone who knows anything about story structure can tell you, this is where we are going.

This whole book is saddled with poor characters.The only two legitimate X-Men on the team are Psylocke and Archangel, Betsy’s leadership has taken a backseat to Magneto’s plotting and Warren is as close to a mute as I’ve seen since Groot..the problem being that Groot says more and gets more time in his own team’s book.

Again, there is no mystery as to where this book is heading, Archangel has been nothing more than a background player since this title started, Warren, much like the readers are just waiting to get to the reveal of the main villain, a villain that has been “teased” (I use quotes because there is, once again, no mystery here) since issue one. We are all waiting around for Apocalypse.
We all know that this series is banking on the potential popularity of the summer movie release by Fox. This is a product tie-in and nothing more. To me, there is no other logical explanation as to why this title has spun its wheels since the relaunch. Marvel is trying desperately to get this series to hang on long enough to grab some of that sweet movie-money from new star-struck fans that don’t know any better. The favorite comic from my childhood is now nothing more than a cheap marketing tool.

The next mistake is the villains. THE DARK RIDERS. The Dark Riders? Really? Really?!? The relaunch of Marvel’s former flagship book is now five issues in and the best villains you could come up with are the fucking Dark Riders? I’m writing this review at six o’clock in the morning, I haven’t had my coffee yet, I’m still half asleep, and I could still list a dozen better X-villains that the sorry ass Dark Riders. In fact let’s do just that:

Omega Red
Mr. Sinister
The Sentienels
Cassandra Nova
The Dark Phoenix
Sabretooth (Oops! He’s on the team)
Magneto (Oops! He’s on the team)
Mystique (Oops! It was revealed this issue that she is working for Magneto)
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Oops! Mags is on the team and his kids now belong in the Avengers universe so they can’t play in the Mutant sandbox anymore)
A Panda riding a uni-cycle–ok that might be pushing it but it would still be more entertaining than the Dark Riders

The point is that this was THEE book for Marvel. remember how Marvel almost when bankrupt in the 90’s? It was the interest in the numerous X-books that saved that company from going the way of so many other publishers. Uncanny was at the forefront of keeping the “House of Ideas” front doors open. This book was a must-read a month in and month out. Sure it was the 90’s and everyone was wearing parachute pants and rocking a sweet bowl cut, but we knew good comics. To watch my beloved X-Men fall this far down the comic book food chain is enough to make me cry.

By now some of you are wondering if I’m going to review this issue or just keep bitching, and to be honest I’d really rather do more of the latter but here you go.

Magneto blows up Genosha to kill the Dark Riders. The X-team moves into Magneto’s former base in the Savage Land. Mystique is revealed to be working for Magneto. (Who do you think is going to be revealed to be a traitor to the team when the summary reads Magneto, Magneto, Magneto?)

The rest of this book is throw away nonsense. I have lost any and all faith that Uncanny can bounce back from this storyline. I’m walking away from this title until the creative direction has been addressed and I would suggest that the rest of the X-fans out there do the same. Avoid this title at all costs until the creative team has been replaced.

Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Greg Land
Inks: Jay Leisten
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna

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