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Revisiting the X-Men - Uncanny #284 - 290 / X-Men #8 - 9

The new X-men crew brings classic baddies-and-battles format back to the title

This latest run is mostly Uncanny X-Men, with a few bits bleeding over from the new X-Men title as well as a brief cross-over with Ghost Rider.  This run brings the X-Men format back to the old-school ways of small arcs and singular bad guys.  The storylines are easily digestible in 3 to 4 issues and make it simple for those unfamiliar with the titles previous to the reformation to jump in and start enjoying the X-Men without feeling too much in the dark.

The Ghost Rider bit doesn’t really add much to the story and more like an excuse to bring someone else into the title.  It involves a Gambit back-story that takes place in New Orleans and features the undead motorcycle rider only incidentally.  Most likely, it was an attempt by Marvel to get people to look into the recently rebooted Ghost Rider in hopes of attracting some new readers.  Still, the art in the book was pretty decent.  Unfortunately, the dialogue and other story elements were a bit lame.  The characterization of the X-Men was also off, making them a lot more callous and unthinking than usual.  The dangers of letting too many people write the same characters, I suppose.  On the plus side, combined with the X-Men titles this is the first attempt at bringing some life to Gambit’s character.  It also reintroduces the Brood, who always manage to be a fun villain.

The collection of artists and writers for this run are a talented crew who manage to produce some beautiful looking books and enough interesting story to make them readable.  They may not measure up to the power of Chris Claremont, Jim Lee and John Byrne, but they do manage to hold their own.  In the end, it’s a good thing that Marvel is bringing in new talent, since it’s unlikely that Lee and Byrne are going to be able hold down every title on their own.

The highlight of the run comes in the Uncanny arcs.  The first few detail a brief adventure as the X-team crosses into an alternate dimension through an unknown portal, only to discover that the portal is the equivalent of a mini-black hole and will destroy both worlds.  In this arc we are introduced to Colossus’s missing brother (only briefly referenced waaaay back around Uncanny X-Men #100), a mutant with powers of his own.  They manage to save the day (of course) and flee the dimension, bringing the new Rasputin family member along with them.

Uncanny #288-290 are the best bit.  They go further into Bishop, who is shaping up to be a rather interesting character, looking at his attempts to adapt in a world that is completely unlike his own.  He officially becomes part of the X-Men as well.  In addition, the age-old and nearly forgotten love-story arc between Forge and Storm is brought up once again (finally), though it resolves to the negative.  Forge instead decides to head off with an apparently insane Mystique, an event that was prophesized ages ago by Mystique’s now-deceased friend Destiny.  No doubt exiting Forge is a way to clear up some space for Bishop so that the team doesn’t get even more crowded.

Onward the title progresses, still remaining consistently decent without having any of the grand flair that Claremont brought.  Whether the future sees movement beyond the baddies-and-battle format remains to be seen.  If not, I fear the X-Men will get stuck in a generic cycle of story arcs and settle into being something less than it has been - just another super hero comic book.