By Cullen Bunn, Greg Land, Nolan Woodard and Jay Leisten
There have been many writers who have taken on the X-Men, but none as timeless as Chris Claremont. His run is arguably the best Uncanny X-Men has ever seen and he is responsible for many of the most critically acclaimed and memorable tales including: The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, and God Loves, Man Kills. Grant Morrison shook things up with his run on New X-Men and Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men will probably go down as a classic run as well, but aside from those two, no writer has been able to emulate that specific storytelling style of soap opera meets metaphor meets action. This newest re-launch of X-titles hasn’t proven to be all that impressive so far, but Cullen Bunn’s Uncanny X-Men certainly offers a glimmer of hope for readers.
As stated above, the work Cullen Bunn has done in four short issues of Uncanny X-Men has arguably been the only work that has met many fans expectations. Bunn has a classic storytelling technique for this book: one main story that focuses on most of the characters and a smaller side story featuring a couple of other characters. More so, what works for this issue is Bunn’s characterization, which is a complaint fans have had with other current X-books. Fantomex and Mystique act like the sneaky, skeezy thieves they are. We always know these two have an angle and agenda, but Bunn allows Fantomex to be smooth as he sweeps a random woman off the dance floor. A highlight this issue are the pages with Shen Xorn. Often a forgotten character, and hardly used or talked about, Xorn’s calm and peaceful demeanor comes off great here. Even a visit from the Dark Riders is not enough to rattle him, as his first reaction is to offer them tea. Bunn is also allowing Magneto to finally settle into a mentor role as he has a long and honest talk with Triage. Bunn reminds us how great a mentor Magneto can be if and when he wants to. He comes off tough and somewhat short in this conversation, but young mutants need that tough love in these dire times.
The pencils this issue are handled by Greg Land with colors by Nolan Woodard and inks by Jay Leisten. Land has been getting some praise for his work on this title, and it’s about time. He’s been in the industry for a while and has had some of the harshest criticism of any artist. Leisten’s inks are likely a large part of this praise, keeping things smooth and sharp as ever. This issue opens at an extravagant party at the Hellfire Club. One of the cool things in these opening pages is that Land has several tiny silhouetted images of Fantomex and a strange woman dancing at the bottom of the page. Your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the images. The Dark Riders continue to look sinister this issue. We get a close up of Gauntlet, and Land doesn’t skimp on the facial details; his teeth are all funky and his empty eye socket seems eerie. The colors by Nolan Woodard are very good here too. There is this great panel where Archangel awaits to be released for his mission in the X-jet. Woodard has the entire panel a dark and dreary shade of blue, but Psylocke’s mind link is a bright pink that brings light to the creepy panel.
Uncanny X-Men has been great so far, and Bunn, Land, Woodard and co. have fans believing Marvel isn’t mistreating the X-Men. This series has exceeded expectations and it seems like Bunn has a solid, well-thought out plan laid out for some of our favorite mutants. Greg Land is doing some of the best work of his career and being teamed with Nolan Woodard and inker Jay Leisten has really helped round out his art. If you aren’t satisfied after reading this book, there is no pleasing you.