Uncanny X-Men #500
Writers: Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker
Pencils: Greg Land and Terry Dodson
Inks: Jay Leisten and Rachel Dodson
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Joe Caramagna
I’m of the opinion that the X-titles have been on a serious upswing since the kick-off of Messiah Complex. I thought that that particular storyline gave the books a necessary shot in the arm and reinvigorated the franchise. With several books having terrific runs (X-Factor, for instance), it does seem appropriate to up the ante on the original book as it hits the significant milestone of its 500th issue.
First off, the quality of the new writing team in unassailable. Brubaker’s obviously hitting some careers highs right now with Cap and Daredevil, and Fraction’s also done great work across a number of projects (I really liked The Order, and he writes a swell Iron Man). Their work on this issue incorporates an old-school vibe with modern sensibilities. It’s not secret that the mutants have moved to San Francisco, but the writers use that move to attack the politics of art and protest. The SF venue being accepting to mutants is clearly a notion meant to parallel some of that city’s character in the real world, but the deft weaving of a art-drive affront to the X-Men’s moral values is a really interesting take.
As far as characters go, this is a great mix. I’m not sure if the characters will be separated into particular units across the books as things roll on, but I’m not terribly concerned. If writers like Ellis and these fellows get to play with whomever they want, then we should be seeing some good stories come out of it. The villains of the piece are also extremely appropriate, given the historical nature of the issue.
And then, the art. I don’t have the festering hatred for Greg Land that some online pundits do. In fact, I quite liked his work on Birds of Prey from several years ago. As it is, yes, I think that he’s somewhat photo-referency in this issue, but his action and flow seem smoother than in a while. Dodson, for his part, doesn’t have as many pages in this one, but he does a great Wolverine and a Varga-esque Emma Frost. Given the skilled inkers and Ponsor on colors, this thing looks good.
In essence, this book serves multiple functions. It’s a celebration. It’s a jumping-on point for new readers. It’s a rejoining point for readers who may have left a while back. It is, in short, a good comic. And really, what more could we ask for?
Related:Retro X: Remembering Uncanny X-Men #400