REVIEW: Uncanny X-Men 495
X-Men: Divided Part 1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Choi
At the end of the Messiah CompleX, with Xavier seemingly dead, the X-Men seemingly disbanded. This being the next issue of Uncanny X-Men the book would appear to have a problem of the lack of the titular team.
We begin with Cyclops, who is, as usual, questioning his choices, this time to his dead ex-wife, Jean Grey, and his dead father, Corsair. In a nice play on Cyclops recent evolution into a more well rounded leader, this turns out to be a dream, interrupted by Emma Frost. Cyclops and Emma are happy with their decision, which sees them in the Savage Land.
We travel back two weeks in a flashback to a meeting Iron Man has with Cyclops about how Tony views heroes and villains where Tony relates that he is to register the X-Men. Naturally, registering mutants for being born is a bit of a, shall we say, sensitive issue. Cyclops tells Iron Man that the X-Men are no more, so if he wants to push registration on those with no secret identities (and who are thus prosecutable), it’s up to him. Well played and Cyclops really has developed into a wonderful character since Morrison’s New X-Men.
With that, we rejoin Scott and Emma in the Savage Land, enjoying their vacation and discussing the next step. Apparently, the vacation is to figure out where the X-Men go from here in a not altogether unpredictable twist. Since the reunion was bound to happen anyway, there was no sense creating false tension around it. What form the group returns in is a far more interesting point of tension since there is real question due to several radical reinventions of the line in the past decade, plus the ever… original… Warren Ellis coming on the title.
While this is decided, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus have taken a road trip in Germany and are on their way to Russia. Wolverine and Nightcrawler are playing pranks on one another and nothing interesting occurs other than a reminder that the rest of the team exists.
Another Savage Land scene has a chat with Kazar and Shanna, where Cyclops analyzes how to take out a dinosaur and the depth of Emma’s love for Scott is revealed. This goes well until Scott receives an e-mail from Angel that San Francisco is living in the 1960s and Angel is distracted. Emma and Scott must naturally go back to see what’s wrong, and we end here.
Well, this was a solid down issue after a major event. Scott Lobdell and Chris Claremont used to be amazing at these through the 1980s and 90s. Everyone talking things over and deciding how they felt about the major issue that passed made sense from a storytelling perspective. I very much like how this worked for Scott and Emma, but for the other characters, it was lacking in any substance. Sure, it was set up, but really, if you’re going to set up, at least say something about the characters. This being Brubaker, a detective lover at his core, I’m certain a seemingly innocuous detail will later come to light as an important plot element and make the scenes worthwhile, but for now, these scenes seem filler.
The art is gorgeous. Choi gets a chance to really show off here, drawing a gorgeous Savage Land. Besides every character looking like a model, this is very pretty stuff indeed.
The entire issue works as built around a Scott and Emma character piece. Everything else is lacking, but Scott’s characterization in particular is so strong throughout that it just about manages to carry the rest.