Advance Review: Uncanny X-Men 390



Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Salvador Larroca

Marvel Comics

The Morlocks just will not freaking go away. The concept, for those blessedly unaware is that the ugly mutants banded together to live in the sub-sewers of New York City. They’re alternately militant, terrified of outsiders, pathetic and/or terrorists. In the recent “Decimation” event 99% of mutants were made into normal humans (by magic of course), but even that didn’t seem to eradicate those persistent Morlocks. Here they are, terrorists again and they have taken out the sentinels which guard the X-Men. They and Xavier are also searching for Magneto, who also is obviously annoyingly, consistently difficult to permanently get rid of.

The Morlocks are broken into factions now, one militant and one pacifist. Since the militant Morlocks bombed a train last issue (with no casualties), the media is shocked this is an act of mutant terrorism. I strongly suspect their shock is for an entirely different reason than my own, which stems from the fact that a skilled writer like Brubaker would still attempt to use such a stripped down population as a metaphor for a minority.

Luckily for the X-Men, Skids, a former member and current SHEILD agent is working inside the Morlocks. She’s happily able to provide all the necessary background information for the X-Men to be getting on with. The Morlocks formed a cult when they lost their powers since powers were all they had. That… doesn’t work since the powers were that which was forcing them to be outcasts, but with characters as broken as these who chose to live underground and have some absolute craziness in their past, it’s passable. Luckily for the Morlocks, a plot device named Qwerty wrote a book of prophecy about what to do in this situation, which the Morlocks are happily following.

This is pure X-Men melodrama, with characters on the hunt stopping to discuss potential coupling and opponents with sneak attacks stopping to announce their advantage, but Brubaker nearly pulls it off, if not for the overcomplicated plotting. M-Day is caused by magic and was ignored for a year. Now we’ve got a series of characters behaving entirely intentionally as deus ex machina to set up this prophecy’s fulfillment, Xavier acting like he’s never encountered Storm’s claustrophobia before, and the giant coincidence of Xavier looking for the same man as the Morlocks. This is a fate story, so this can just about get away with all the startling coincidences, but even for a fate story, the strings are being too clearly pulled for the benefit of this story.

The art and storytelling are clear, if not especially attractive. Naturally our mystery man is wearing a bright purple suit, but this is a throwback story, relishing in continuity and just about fits. The characters are framed well, and besides a few awkward expressions, there’s nothing to really complain about. The art is appropriately claustrophobic since the characters are, in fact, underground.

If you miss good old X-Men melodrama, steeped in obscure continuity and don’t mind being able to see the writer pull the strings more than a little, this comic is for you. I know that sounds like a small audience, but the 80s and 90s proved otherwise, so if you gave up on X-Men, Brubaker is doing what you like again, give him a shot. He’s a good enough storyteller that he can mostly get away with the glaring quirks of the style he has adopted here.

Grade: 6/10
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