Uncanny X-Men #14 by Brian Michael Bendis – Friday Flash Review [Shadowhawk/Bane of Kings]
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the first issue of Uncanny X-Men after the events of Battle of the Atom.
“This is totally filler and not all that good at that too.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“This comes recommended.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
I jumped on to the various X-books in full for the Battle of the Atom event. The first month of the crossover was indeed quite good and made me definitely want to read all the various titles on a regular basis, but the second month was mostly bad. Still, there were a few interesting moments all around. Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men #14 is the first X-book I’m reading since the end of Battle of the Atom and I have to say that the experience has been quite disappointing. I’m not really sure what I was expecting since I wasn’t following the book before, but all the same, this was a really weird issue. Newcomer to Cyclops’ team, Benjamin Deeds, has a really passive power that Cyclops can’t use tactically and even Ben himself doesn’t think he fits in. So Emma Frost takes it on herself to make Ben believe in himself and show him how his powers can be useful to the team if he would just hone them and learn to control them. There’s quite a bit of the flavour of the X-Men: First Class movie in here, but it is a distinctly different experience.
One thing that made me really uncomfortable was that Emma pretty much almost seduces Ben into coming along with her on a field trip to hone his powers. She waits for him in his room to come back from his shower and when he sees her, he drops his towel in surprise, and there’s this whole page or two where its all an awkward moment as she pretty much comes on to him. That’s now how I’ve seen Emma throughout Battle of the Atom. My understanding of the character in general is that she is quite open with her sexuality, but this felt completely weird.
And the way that Ben trains his powers, well, that was a bit disappointing. Emma takes him to Atlantic City and tells him to flirt, all because she thinks that his powers when he inadvertently uses them back at the school when they are in his room have a chemical component. Like something to do with pheromones or something. Basically, he puts people at ease by looking like them. Its a weird power at best, something that can have good uses for infiltration work, but that’s not exactly how we see it all happening. Not quite.
I’m not sure. It is decently written, albeit with some questionable scenes, but it just completely failed to work for me.
Chris Bachalo handles the internal pencilwork along with the colours. There’s a strong cartoony vibe to his work, especially with the colours, that just didn’t work for me, once again. My main problem with it was that his female characters all look the same and they all have a very teenage-y look to them. This was especially true for both Emma and Ilyana. There’s no way to distinguish between them, not really. And he packs way too many panels into each page, so that there are a ton of things going on throughout. Kind of makes it a chore to read and hard to really appreciate the artwork since everything’s drawn that much smaller, in terms of the scale. And there are a lot of inkers on this issue. Not really sure why that many were needed. My understanding of inking in comics isn’t all that great, so I’m not sure I can really comment on that part, but there is absolutely nothing here that tells me that this issue needed four inkers in all.
Overall, I’d kind of expected this issue to be better than the second Battle of the Atom issue on the series, but it wasn’t. Eh. Also, the solicit mentions that this is going to be about Magneto. The reality couldn’t be further from that “fiction”.
Bane of Kings:
Art & Colours: Chris Bachalo | Inks: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Victor Olazara | Cover: Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend
The effects of X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM are felt!
Magneto goes off on personal mission that sets him at odds with much of the X-Men and Marvel Universe.
The new Xavier School has changed, but how?
With Battle of the Atom being largely a mess I had little faith in the Bendis written X-Books following this event and with the latest issue of All New X-Men featuring an effective merging of focus of the two books there isn’t really a need for both to be on the stands anymore. However – I was willing to give this issue a shot because I’ve been following this series since day one and as a whole, it’s been largely fun and enjoyable. Whilst not Superior Spider-Man level quality it remains the other of the two double shipping Marvel books that I’m following, and although it may not double ship this month – nor with the addition of Amazing X-Men I’m starting to wonder if this will become an issue/month book, but it’ll be interesting to see how things turn out regardless. This issue proves to be another case of falsely advertised solicits though as the cover suggests we find the attention shifted from what was originally planned to be Magneto to newcomer to the Uncanny X-Men Benjamin Deeds, with his abilities to transform. I’m glad that Bendis is starting to take the time to flesh out the new members of the Uncanny X-Men – but really, it shouldn’t have taken him this long to do it. By now we should well and truly be getting into the mega arcs of the series, with character depth already covered earlier.
The issue itself also falls weirdly in chronological order. Despite the fact that it was released after All New X-Men #19 where Kitty and the original five join up with Scott, it’s focusing more on the events before that when we get to look at the harsh methods of training utilised by Cyclops. I got a brief glimpse of them when he was training hope in the mess that was Avengers vs. X-Men and it really takes the toll on the team when Deeds feels that he isn’t cut out to be a member of the Uncanny X-Men, believing that his abilities make him a joke. However – Emma Frost steps in to prove just how useful Deeds is to the team, and this is where this issue succeeds – if you thought his powers couldn’t be put to any practical use then think again as Uncanny X-Men #14 displays just how useful they can be. The book itself also plays out like a heist with some interesting scenes that kept the book on track. Right now I think it’s a promising sign that following Battle of the Atom, both All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men have been titles that have got me interested in looking forward to the next issue again, and this issue is no exception – because beforehand I was seriously considering giving up this book. However – Bendis ups his game for Uncanny X-Men and delivers a very fun read.
He also proves how well he can handle characters – the interaction between Emma Frost and Deeds was pretty good in this issue – and from what I’ve read Bendis appears to be better at character focused series then epic scale events – Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man Vol. 1 (w/ Miles Morales) for example is a lot better than the summer’s mess that was Age of Ultron – that really was basically like all of Marvel’s events so far that I’ve read, aside from Infinity which has so far remained consistently strong. It started off strongly, went downhill from there and lead into the next big thing.
I’m normally a fan of Chris Bachalo’s artwork but this issue was a mix for me. He did have some good moments for sure – but there were parts that didn’t really catch my interest, for example Emma Frost and Magik pretty much look indistinguishable at times – and the panels often feel too small in order to make the script work as well as it could have done if he’d have used larger panels. However, there are some panels that I felt worked really well with Bachalo’s style really fitting the overall darker tone of the book – it’s just a shame that the artwork for #14 didn’t really work perhaps as well as it should do.
If you were worried about the Original X-Men eliminating any chances that the newcomers to the Uncanny X-Men had to develop and become more than just names and faces, then Bendis hopefully puts that issue to rest with a great character study on Benjamin Deeds who presents an interesting development. It’ll be interesting to see which new characters are fleshed out later – Eva Bell is a particular standout for me so far from this cast, as well as Goldballs – but the rest are forgettable and Goldballs is only really notable for his name. So hopefully this book will become the character-development series whilst All New X-Men looks at the mammoth arcs, which would be ideal.
Overall then, Uncanny X-Men #14 is a solid read. It’s not quite a must read and neither is it essential, but it’s a great character study of a newcomer and provides a welcome break from all the Battle of the Atom stuff happening across the X-Books even if this issue does connect to the event in more ways than I was expecting. This comes recommended, and now I’m starting to slowly have more faith in Brian Michael Bendis, as long as he stays clear of event books and focuses on character development.