Best Shots Review: UNCANNY X-MEN #2 a 'Noble Effort' in Storytelling

Uncanny X-Men #2
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics

Uncanny X-Men #2
Written by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson
Art by R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto and Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by Matthew Sibley
‘Rama Rating: 6 out of 10

Considering the sheer amount of anti-mutant activity over the years, you wouldn’t have to look far to find a mutant who thinks the world fears or hates them. So, when Beast says, “the world is trying to kill us,” that concept becomes literal in Uncanny X-Men #2, even if there’s no time to properly grapple with the implications of that idea, given the sheer number of other things going on and being set up over the course of its page count.

A weekly book is a completely different beast to a monthly ongoing, and allows for a different sort of pacing when readers will have the next installment in just seven short days. The delivery system is more rapid, yet that leads to situations with more relaxed set-up, where not every plot thread gets established by the end of the first issue, and that the big climactic hook of your first issue need not play into the second. Both of these ideas are applicable to Uncanny X-Men's sophomore issue, as while the synopsis on the title page mentions Kitty Pryde being held captive alongside Apocalypse and Senator Allen, that story is not developed further within this issue.

Instead, there are other pressing matters to be addressed here, as co-writers Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson reestablish the growing Multiple Man problem in Kansas before cutting to the X-Mansion as Beast briefs the others on everything that’s going on, including a dinosaur stampede in Montana. (Yep — it’s that kind of day.) Combine that with Jean Grey delegating various squads, a tease of Beast's "pressing commitments" on the outskirts of a crime scene, and a major guest star checking in with Pixie and the junior X-Men, and you've got a lot of various plot points starting to unspool by the issue’s end. At the same time, where the issue leaves off indicates there are more pieces that still need to be put on the board, and that’s before even circling back to what’s going on with Kitty and Apocalypse.

Taken as an attempt to pack as much as possible into the issue, it is a noble effort, even as R.B. Silva’s sprawling and bold imagery in the opening pages (with a page that literally starts in space and zooms down to the Multiple Man horde) winds up lending the issue a more decompressed feel. The plotting would fare a lot worse for wear were Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson responsible for a less cohesive script. In fact, it’s easy to picture a version of Uncanny X-Men #2 where the set-up for further story angles is more laborious, and the pacing ping-ponging between the various threads, taking away from the momentum of the two teams dealing with Madrox and the dinosaurs respectively.

Said cohesion is also applicable when considering the character dynamics on display throughout the issue –– it helps that all three co-writers have been a part of the X-section of the Marvel Universe over the past year or so –– from the satisfaction that comes from seeing Jean take point in a book as big and as spotlighted as this, to once boots are on the ground in Montana and Kansas as the team takes action. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto and Rachelle Rosenberg choreograph sequences that work on multiple planes of action within the panels on a page — with one panel, it’s not just Jubilee holding her own against the Multiple Men, but also how Polaris deals with a problem on her periphery.

That said, these beats occur in the middle of the issue, the meat of the book, and lose the glossy, high sheen approach that the bookends are granted. Sadly, this means that the dinosaur scenes later in the issue are unable to match the impact of their first appearance, possibly a constraint of a weekly publishing schedule or perhaps Silva’s work is best delivered in a more widescreen, blown-up approach.

Earlier in the year, the House of Ideas gave their other big franchise a weekly series, Avengers: No Surrender, which was more streamlined in its storytelling approach; working with a smaller cast of characters from the outset and having 16 issues worth of space to tell the tale. It’s hard not to compare the two or think about it in relation to the large-scale weekly efforts that have come from the Distinguished Competition. There’s a sense that Brisson, Rosenberg and Thompson know where they’re heading towards, but there’s also a hesitation about how much progress has been made towards the endgame. All this set-up thus far has been nothing groundbreaking, though still promising considering where the co-writers have taken other X-books. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to see what this foundation is in service of, and considering the relaxed pacing of the book thus far, when it arrives hopefully it won’t have to be raced through in order to fit it all in by the end.

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