Uncanny X-Men #523 Review
- Published on Friday, 09 April 2010 00:30
- Written by Kevin
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After the great start to the new big X-Men crossover and all the positive response from everyone I’ve come back to take a look at part two of Second Coming. Thanks to a buddy of mine who is letting borrow his copies of all the X-Men titles I am going to be checking out this event while waiting for the hardcover.
Now even though Craig Kyle and Chris Yost started Second Coming off to a very strong start I have my doubts Matt Fraction can deliver a good second chapter to the crossover. Fraction has not impressed me with his recent work and the first two issues of his run on Uncanny X-Men, #500 and #501, were the last X-Men comics I picked up and they were very unimpressive. But since I am all hyped for Second Coming maybe Fraction will surprise me. Hit the jump button to find out if Uncanny X-Men #523 delivers after a strong start or if it derails the event.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Terry Dodson
Inker: Rachel Dodson
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue opens with Hope and Cable at a supermarket where Hope gets distracted by the beauty section. Cable yells at Hope to pay attention. Hope says the place is safe and we see that Cable has tied up all the workers and customers of the supermarket. Cable asks her what she was looking at and Hope says it was nothing.
They then go outside where Hope hotwires a car while telling Cable he did not have to yell at her especially since the place was safe. Cable says they have to be on a guard and calls her Soldier. Cable says he is not done yelling and Hope says she is done listening while they drive off.
Back on the freeway Nightcrawler asks Wolverine what is he and Scott hiding from him while the guy from the Sapien League says he does not know anything. Wolverine tells Nightcrawler that they are at war with Bastion, Stryker, Lang, Trask, Hodge, and Creed, who have all been waiting for Hope to return just like the X-Men have. He continues by saying that some of them (the X-Force) have been doing their best to stop Bastion and his crew in ways not everyone might like. Nightcrawler asks if Scott sanctioned all of this but gets no answer.
Nightcrawler gets pissed off and almost walks away but is stopped by Colossus. Colossus says that the longer Hope is out in the world the more blood that will be spilled. Nightcrawler then demands to talk to Scott.
Back on Utopia Nightcrawler contacts Scott through Emma. Scott asks for an update while Emma mentions how everyone from the Alpha Team have been radiating violent thoughts. Wolverine says they ran into trouble but it was nothing they couldn’t handle. Scott tells the team that Cable would be moving to the northwest using the forest areas for coverage since that is what he thought Cable to do.
Emma tells Scott that Nightcrawler is boiling with anger. Nightcrawler quickly asks Scott if he sanctioned the actions of Wolverine’s team. Scott is taken aback by this for a bit but answers that he has and he would do it again if given the option. Scott continues by saying that Nightcrawler cannot bring up the topic of questioning his leadership again until the mission is over and the X-Men get Hope home safe, afterwards Nightcrawler can question his leadership all he wants. Nightcrawler says he is fine with that while closing the eyes of the guy X-23 killed. (Damn, look at Scott acting like how a true leader is supposed to act. Nice work Fraction.)
On Blackbird 2 Cannonball and the back-up X-Men (New Mutants) contact Scott telling him they are ready to get their mission. Scott tells everyone that they are up against Bastion and his crew so he wants Cypher to collect and translate all the info Bastion’s crews are sending through their computer system. He then tells the rest of the team is to head out to St. Louis and stop Cameron Hodge’s anti-mutant weapon facility. Cypher interrupts by telling that Cable and Hope have been spotted robbing a supermarket north of the I-80 much to the pleasure of Scott.
At a motel Cable and Hope got themselves a room and Hope can’t believe there is a bed and starts jumping on top of it like a little girl. Cable says they should get some sleep as they will be moving out in the morning. Cable opens the newspaper and sees a story about the X-Men now located in San Francisco. Cable tells Hope they are going to California.
Over at Bastion’s hideout Bastion tells everyone that their plan is all set and they are ready to kill the little mutant. Bastion says that they are unable to track the girl with the use of conventional methods but says thanks to the techno-organic virus that helped resurrect them all is also inside Cable and they will be tracking that virus. He says that Cable has stopped moving and orders the Purifiers to move out while watching out for the X-Men. One of Bastion’s men (can’t recognize him) voices his displeasure about using Stryker for the mission but Bastion says not to worry and asks if his towers has been complete.
Hope finishes showering and Cable gives her a little gift: a hair beauty set. Hope is very happy about this and styles her hair. Hope shows Cable and asks him if she did it right. She then asks Cable what he is doing. Cable says he is hacking into the landlines in order to give them a more omnipresence of everything going on around them. Cable suddenly notices something wrong and he and Hope get prepared to fight.
Outside Stryker and his Purifiers are ready to attack.
Back on Utopia Cypher tells Scott that all the landlines on the location he mentioned are all dead and that it all circles around a motel. Scott contacts Wolverine telling him that Cable’s location is not too far from where the team is located.
Back at the motel Cable and Hope fight all of Stryker’s Purifiers and are able to hold their own. Cable shots a gas main causing a huge explosion. Cable and Hope then scramble into the open. The X-Men suddenly arrive to provide some back-up.
Cypher tells Scott the Alpha team arrived at Cable’s location. Scott tells Cannonball to move his team and we see Cannonball and his team fly into the anti-mutant weapon facility. End of issue.
The Good: Uncanny X-Men #523 was a surprisingly good read. After being disappointed with Fractions recent work I was surprised he turned in a solid second chapter to Second Coming. While there were some problems with this issue it was good continuation from what Yost and Kyle started with this big X-Men crossover.
The pacing for Uncanny X-Men #523 was well handled. After Kyle and Yost kicked things off with the great one-shot last week Fraction did a very good job using everything that happened in that one-shot and kept the story moving. While the issue moves slower than last week’s one-shot the slower pace actually helps build the tension for what is going on. There is a lot of set-up in this issue that helps inform people like myself who have not picked up an X-book for a while catch up with what is going on.
Also because of the slowdown it allowed Fraction to give us a nice sense of Cable and Hope’s relationship. Even though at the beginning of the issue Cable acted like an a--hole soldier to Hope, though understandable given the situation they are in, it was nice to see Cable acting like a father to Hope as well. The moment where he gave Hope her first hair beauty set was a sweet moment for the pair.
It is good to see that Fraction and the X-writers are treating Hope as a kid who is amazed at the simple stuff like beauty products, a bed, and a fridge full of food. I am guessing that Hope has been dealing with a world similar to where Cable grew up so it feels like this is the first time in her young life is seeing these things of comfort. Even though Cable has trained her to be a soldier you still expect a kid who has never seen anything other than wrecked worlds to act like that.
At the same time I liked that once Stryker and his gang started their attack both Cable and Hope worked like a well oiled machine. Even if Hope is a teen it is clear she can handle herself and she and Cable work well together. It was cool seeing them in action.
Similar to what Kyle and Yost showed in the Second Coming one-shot Fraction did a great job showing Scott being the one true leader of the mutant race. It is really impressive seeing how the X-Men writers are handling Scott. These opening two chapters remind me how Josh Wheedon portrayed Scott on Astonishing X-Men. No more are we seeing the one-dimensional field leader that followed Professor X’s orders. Now he is the one giving orders and knows what to do to get the job done as he has various X-Men moving to different points and attacking the enemy before the enemy has a chance to attack them.
My favorite scene was seeing how quickly Scott answered Kurt’s question and told Kurt to focus on the mission at hand and that they will talk later about Kurt questioning Scott’s leadership. It was a great scene with Scott showing that he knew it would come up eventually and still understood that he had to get the X-Men, in this case Kurt, in line to focus. Scott understands what the mission is and that if one of the X-Men looses focus it might mean the death of the team.
Another thing about this scene was that I continue to get the feeling that Nightcrawler will be the X-Men to die. With how Kyle, Yost, and now Fraction have written Second Coming it all seems to be setting up for Nightcrawler to die. While I want to see more fallout from Nightcrawler finding out about the X-Force it seems unlikely if he dies like it is set up to happen. I hope it does not happen since Nightcrawler is one of my favorite X-Men characters.
It is cool to see that Wolverine is acting as the second-in-command and is now the field leader for the X-Men, the job Scott held before. Given all their past it is logical to see Wolverine take on this role with everything that has happened.
I am glad that the whole search for Cable and Hope was not stretched out and both the X-Men and the human council. Though Fraction and the other X-Men writers could have stretched out the search I am glad they didn’t and we can get to the meat of the story. To many times we have seen these types of stories where one character or group of characters is searching for someone writers will typically stretch out the search unnecessarily. So it was good that Fraction did not go that route and had the X-Men find Cable and Hope in the second chapter to the story.
While the X-Men have been getting through the Sapien League and Purifiers with not a lot of problems it is clear Bastion has a big ace in the hole with those towers that are under construction. It’ll be interesting what they are and what they do.
Terry Dodson supplied some alright artwork. I had some problems with the art for this issue, which I’ll get to later, but Dodson art looked fine for what it was. His best work was definitely the “confrontation” between Scott and Kurt where he did a great job with the characters facial reaction.
The Bad: Though the pacing for the issue was well handled I still question having 14 issues to this story. With the X-Men and the human council already finding Cable and Hope as well as the X-Men launching an attack on the human council anti-mutant weapon facility it feels like this story shouldn’t have been more than 6-8 issues. I get the feeling that the X-Men writers are going to be stretching out the story to much which will cause most of the issues unnecessarily.
Also while I did like the scene between Scott and Kurt something about the interaction felt forced. There should have been a little more to it with the rest of the X-Men. More of the X-Men should have been just as pissed as Kurt was for Scott and Logan hiding the actions of the X-Force from them.
And I don’t get why Scott is not with the Alpha team anymore. I know he wasn’t with the Alpha team at the end of the Second Coming one-shot but I don’t see why Scott originally headed out with the Alpha team only to split the moment after they got a signal on Hope. It doesn’t make much sense or does Fraction try and explain that. And even though it might have stretched out the scene with Kurt a bit more that scene between Scott and Kurt would have been much more powerful if Scott was still present with the Alpha team.
While I am interested in what Bastion and his gang are up to I got to admit that so far they don’t seem like much of a threat. The X-Men have been able to deal with them with relative ease so far. Even Cable and Hope were able to hold their own against Strykers army. So far Fraction and the X-Men writers have not convinced me that Bastion and his gang is a big threat. They are nothing more than a nuisance right now. Maybe once they show us what the towers actually are and do will that turn things around but so far in these opening two chapters I don’t see why they are the central villains to this crossover.
While Dodson provide some alright artwork his art did not fit the tone of the story. As David Finch showed in the opening chapter to the story this is a very dark and fast pace story but Dodson’s art did not fit that. Dodson art made the story feel like the issue was moving much slower than it actually was.
And the art just did not feel as impactful. A big example is right when Logan killed that Sapien League member. That held no impact whatsoever which is a big change from when X-23 did the same thing in the Second Coming one-shot. The way Finch did that it felt like a “Oh Crap!” moment and that is what I should have felt when Logan did the same thing with the dialogue that Fraction gave Logan for that scene. But Dodson art just killed any impact off that action by having it done off screen.
Also his woman in this issue all had the same face. The biggest example of this is Emma Frost and Hope. Both these characters look identical except for the color of their hair. You cannot tell the difference between both even though Emma is at least in her late 20s, maybe early 30s, while Hope is supposed to be about 13 or 14 years old.
Overall: Uncanny X-Men #523 was a solid second chapter to Second Coming. Though it was not as strong as the opening chapter to this crossover Fraction provided some good progression as the X-Men have found Cable and Hope already and are planning a strike on Bastion’s anti-mutant weapon factory. It is too bad that Dodson’s was not able to deliver on the art side of things. Still, this was a solid second chapter to the crossover
I can’t recommend this issue or the Second Coming crossover to new readers as it is 14 issues and you will have to pick up 4 titles for the next 3-4 months which is too big of an investment to recommend the story. But if you are an X-Men fan and have been collecting the X-titles already than you will enjoy this second chapter to the event and you should, if you haven’t already, pick this issue up as it is necessary for the Second Coming crossover. I just hope that because the story is so long we don’t get this story is not stretched out and becomes a boring story.