So it’s time to say goodbye to the old, singular Uncanny X-Men format and embrace the newness that is the split series. With 14 X-Men on the roster, I guess it makes sense to create two titles so that you don’t have to cram so many characters into one book or risk leaving them on the back burner so long that people forget they even exist. So my quest to go through the entire Uncanny series has now become a quest to go through both of these titles.
The different books do a decent job of splitting the teams up yet still crossing over enough to let you know they all live in the same place and are part of the same organization. The major issue is that it can get a bit confusing trying to read both of them. As I was reading through X-Men #5, it made reference to a mission that started up in Uncanny X-Men #281 but hadn’t taken place yet in the former title. This is despite the fact that the latter had come out a month previous. Luckily, I have a list of what order to read them in, so that should help a bit at least.
The major event that occurs with the format change is the loss of the beloved Chris Claremont. He has gone on to other things and has his swan song with a short run from X-Men #1-3. After 15 years of controlling the title, it is passed on to new blood and only time will tell whether they are up to the task. Luckily, John Byrne and Jim Lee appear to be in charge for the most part. Some other writers sneak in, but those two are the major plot developers, so the story still retains most of what Claremont brought to it during his tenure.
The art maintains its high quality, with Lee working on several of the issues and some other pretty talented artists getting involved as well. The coloring has really stepped up, as well as the inking, bringing the art to life in a new and bold style that is very visually appealing.
Claremont’s last run is a story about Magneto that delves into the character’s psyche, particularly with regards to his struggle between being good and evil. We get a nice look into his head and the run ends with his apparent death. Of course, we all know he isn’t dead, but Claremont plays it up for all it’s worth. In this last work he manages to flesh out the human versus mutant struggle in a way that explains it to the reader in a realistic and dramatic fashion.
The other stories bring in some more iconic characters that will stick around for some time. Both Omega Red and Bishop are introduced. The storylines harken back to the classic battles of the Uncanny X-Men, with the teams fighting the evil-bad-guy and winning out in the end. And still they manage to keep character development going and present new potential options for the future.
My biggest beef with the comic since the split is that some of the writers are floundering their way back to the old, campy comic-book days. Yeah, it’s a comic book and there’s a certain amount of silly that goes along with the medium, but when Omega Red and Rogue are cracking corny jokes in the middle of a battle that is a life-and-death situation to Omega Red, you kind of stop caring about the urgency. The struggle is cheapened in a way.
I’m looking forward to see what else develops, particularly with the Bishop storyline. Both comics look to be off to a decent start and if Byrne and Lee keep staying on board, we could see some great things ahead.