Uncanny X-Men #510
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Greg Land, with inks by Jay Leisten
This is a great story, cut off at the knees by the art. Seriously: if you like old-school X-Men, you’ll probably love the writing in this issue. The X-Men’s base was overrun by the Sisterhood (including a cloned Psylocke, wearing her Silvestri-era armor, Madelyn Pryor, Spiral, Lady Deathstrike, the Mastermind sisters, and Chimera ) at the end of the previous issue, and the main team was hit hard. However, the Sisterhood failed to account for the competence of the kids on the scene, that (some battling hangovers) manage to begin to turn the tide.
In many ways, it’s a classic X-Men story. The team was probably always at their best when on the run. And yeah, while the “base invasion” story has been waaaaay overdone, it works here because we get some nice character moments amid a lot of action. X-23, Armor, Pixie, and the rest of the kids really get to shine in a few scenes. It does make my head ache a bit to wonder about team divisions (why the original New Mutants are shunted one way and the young kids are here, even though there’s a Young X-Men group . . .), but I was mostly able to push that aside just to enjoy.
The thing that repeatedly kicks me out of the story, though, is the art. In a vacuum, and ridiculously overdeveloped teens and Sisterhood members aside, it would probably be okay. But with the constant parade of swipe blogs or “photo-reference posts” or just plain recognizable images, it becomes a diabolical distraction from the story that Fraction is trying to tell. I’m now at the point at the book where I’m wondering if I’ve seen a panel before or I just think that I’ve seen a panel before because we’ve been told so often that we see these images before. I’ve now become convinced that Land’s Cyclops is pre-haircut Jason Lewis. And that’s too bad, because I know that Land is a capable artist that can go without those props. I have to wonder why this is okay at Marvel.
Ultimately, the story ends on a twist that we probably should have seen coming, but makes complete sense overall. I think that Fraction’s writing is coming alive on this book, and I think that Land should come out of rotation to give his style a rethink. I’m going to read the next part so that I can see how Fraction interprets this particular part of X-lore, but I have to say that I’m hoping that art will serve the story rather than distract me.