Uncanny X-Men #6
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Guru eFx
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
The second arc of Kieron Gillen's relaunched Uncanny X-Men is proving to be far more engaging and much more vivid than the first. While Gillen's take on Mr. Sinister as a man on a quest for genetic perfection was a step in the right direction, the story itself felt long-winded, even at only three issues. Here, the second chapter of the Extinction Team's excursion into the "tabula rasa" zone created in Uncanny X-Force finds a lot more room for action, and intrigue. It may be that the expansive setting is a bit more suited to the team's dynamic, as opposed to the single room in which most of the first arc took place, or it may be that Greg Land's visual contributions are more involved; either way, the last two issues have been far better than the three that preceded them.
In the tabula rasa zone where a temporal anomaly caused over a hundred million years of evolution to occur over a matter of days, the Extinction Team find themselves divided, and set upon by a being the natives call "the Immortal Man," and aided by his rival, an evolutionarily superior being called "the Savage." It's a tale that brings to mind some of the team's early forays into the Savage Land, and it's aided by Kieron Gillen's endlessly entertaining portrayal of the characters at hand, and Greg Land's lush, exciting background details. For his part, Gillen is constantly finding new ways to use his characters, be it Magneto's innovative and surprising use of his own helmet as a weapon, Psylocke's constant descriptions of the nature of thought, or Namor and Hope's high-tension banter. There's elegance to the ease with which Gillen imparts the admittedly advanced concepts and intricate details of the plot; where some writers would wind up cluttering the page with captions and balloons, Gillen manages to convey everything necessary in a fluid, organic way.
Greg Land may be the book's biggest surprise right now. Of course, he's well known, and has worked on Gillen's Uncanny X-Men in the past, but in these two issues he's become something of an artistic force to be reckoned with. There are a few moments where it's clear there's been some lightboxing (the gill-man inspired Apex comes to mind), but it's the things he can't fake, such as the Immortal Man's imposing presence, the depth of the almost art nouveau-styled backgrounds, and the fluid panel layout and storytelling that really sell the book. Inker Jay Leisten's attention to the weight of the lines, and the variation between somewhat simplistic design elements and more nuanced characters make him a perfect fit for Land's pencils, and Guru eFx's colors are at once bright and moody, filling the pages with a sense of action that simply wasn't present in the first arc of this title.
The name of the game for Uncanny X-Men remains "evolution," and it's a theme that's been explored in every issue of this book so far. Further, it's been embodied by its creators, with Kieron Gillen finding a strong voice for characters he has occasionally struggled with, and balancing his obvious love of language with the brevity required by mainstream comics, and the oft-maligned Greg Land rediscovering and mastering the basics of the visual medium. It's a thrill to read, not just because the adventure that's taking place is as elemental as an X-Men story can be, but because it's great to see creators actually improving and honing their craft rather than getting lazy and complacent with their success. There's a lot to be taken away from Uncanny X-Men, not just for readers, but for creators as well.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!