Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uncanny X-Men #533

It's surprising that the Uncanny X-Men comic has fallen from the upper ranks of the sales charts, considering that the comic owned the top spot for so many years.

There are several reasons for that fall: there are too many X-titles; there are too many X-Men; and frankly, the comic just hasn't been very good for a while.

The book rose to success on the strength of great characters, terrific art and compelling stories.

This issue is a great example of how excess has brought the title down. There are several good characters in the line - Cyclops, Wolverine, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde - but they're lost in the army of characters bouncing through the story.

This issue features no less than 10 X-Men in three different storylines, eight bad guys and three different menaces, including a runaway powerhouse (Sebastian Shaw), a plague on the island home of the X-Men, and an evil corporation that's marketing a drug that gives ordinary people the power of the X-Men.

And despite all that being crammed into one issue, the whole story feels thin. That's because nothing changes from the beginning of each story to the end of the issue. Good guys fight bad guys, everyone makes cute comments, and we see lots of characters posing for the "camera" with the obligatory identifying blocks of copy next to them, because otherwise you'd have no idea who was who.

The art by Greg Land and Jay Leisten is very pretty, but every panel looks more like a carefully posed beauty shot than art designed to tell a story. The characters are beautiful (especially the women), but the layouts are bland and there's no sense of danger or urgency.

It's a shame because I've been an X-fan practically since the beginning, but I've been thinking about dropping the book. Maybe if they trimmed down the cast, reduced the number of X-titles and focused on the characters and the stories, readers would return to the book.

But for now, it's just a big, confusing mess - lots of noise but no heart. Too bad.

Grade: C+


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