Review: Uncanny X-Men #534.1 By Kieron Gillen And Carlos Pacheco

Uncanny X-Men #534.1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Cam Smith w/ Dan Green & Nathan Lee, Frank D’Armata

Marvel continues it’s .1 issue initiative in an attempt to bring old readers up to speed and entice new readers into the fold. There have been some hits and misses, but for the most part I like the concept and the issues have stood on their own. If any book in Marvel needs a catch up, it’s Uncanny X-Men. Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco craft a tale that is well worth your time, veteran or newcomer. It’s lightly coated in Marvel lore so it doesn’t feel like a total throwaway one-off, catches you up on the current state of X-Men without taking you out of the story and forcing it on you, and you get to see Magneto be act the bad ass.

Our story focuses on the X-Men’s Public Relations team spinning the addition of Magneto (former foe of the X-Men and former mutant supremacist terrorist) to their ranks. Those who follow X-Men know Magneto is usually a grey area of the finest shades, and the story quickly and easily establishes why this could be a bad idea: references to Magneto’s destruction of New York City way back under Grant Morrison’s New X-Men are key, in addition to the more recent story where he stopped a world shattering gigantic bullet and saved the world. As Magneto and the relations team work to establish what Magneto is all about and how he’s a boon to the X-Men, disaster strikes in the city of San Francisco. The X-Men are called in to deal with a different type of terrorist threat, proving their worth as superheroes in the traditional sense, rather than their traditional mutant self policing.

X-Men has been going this way for a while, but the reminders are subtle and simple for people just climbing on board and perhaps not used to this new status quo.

The two threads eventually converge. To Kieron Gillen’s credit, the convergence is natural, and the events and information presented in both stories is never ham handed or information dumped on the reader. Everything from the X-Men’s role (they draw a comparison to the Avengers) to current X-Events is covered, and the story never suffers for it. Gillen’s dialogue fits the characters perfectly, capturing Emma Frost’s casual-cold demeanor, Namor’s arrogance, and Magneto’s weary yet unwavering presense as an icon (Magneto Was Right, there’s Morrison again).

Carlos Pacheco’s pencils are crisp and heroic, but Pacheco knows heroic, having cut his teeth on the X-Men and Avengers before. There are three inkers on board the project, and yet the pencils never suffer for it. Sometimes books have jarring transitions, but this issue stands solid.

That’s mostly because as wonderful as the line work is, Frank D’Armata’s colors carry most of the load. This is X-Men: it’s unworldy and flashy. This is superheroics: It’s vivid and colorful. Scenes have their own distinct pallets, and the bold colors really help Magneto and the other X-Men “pop” against the civilians and their surroundings. D’armata is always a favorite of mine, I’ll admit.

There are certain books that scream Marvel, and Uncanny X-Men shouts it from the mountaintops; the storytelling and presentation is top notch, the line up is the best it’s been in years and from cover to interior this looks…well, like X-Men. I’m talking iconic X-Men. A feeling I haven’t honestly felt since the 90s (though I have followed them through thick and thin).

X-Editor Nick Lower gives a one page teaser for the year, and some teaser art. Nothing outstanding, but a return to Breakworld and Emma trussed up in prison gear is enough to keep the readers interested in the main title.

I’ve enjoyed the majority of the .1 titles Marvel’s created, and I’d place Uncanny #534.1 up with the Amazing Spider-Man .1 issue. If you’ve been gunshy of X-Men for the past few crossovers (for shame), this is a great jumping on point, and if you’ve been in the X-Men for years, this is still a solid tail that helped this reader get a little more insight into Magneto’s most recent heroic turn.

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