Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Review: Uncanny X-Men #1

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Cyclops was right. Or so he'd have you believe. This brand spanking new volume of Uncanny X-Men, coming not too long after the last relaunch, explores Scott Summers' role as figurehead of the brewing Mutant Revolution. But which parts are real and which are media spin? Expanding upon the use of a PR agent in the last volume, these new X-Men are acutely aware that the true battle for the Mutant cause won't be waged against a cackling supervillain, but in the hearts and minds of their followers, whether it be on the streets or on Twitter.

This introductory issue is framed around a traitor in the group. Someone close to Scott, who has betrayed the cause and gone to S.H.I.E.L.D., hoping to bring down their leader. For the majority of the story, the traitor's identity remains a complete mystery. Whilst being pumped for information by Maria Hill, the turncoat recounts the Uncanny X-Men's most recent mission to recover a burgeoning Mutant from Police brutality. Sufficed to say, things go south fairly quickly and the team are ambushed by Sentinels. Even if there wasn't a traitor amongst their ranks, this new X-team have a long way to go in regard to teamwork. Whether it be their malfunctioning powers or their cavalier attitudes, the adults have just as much to learn as the children.

But I digress, the traitor. The Mutant Benedict Arnold. In a move eerily similar to how Bendis began New Avengers all those years ago, the team has to deal with split loyalties from the get-go. Rather than have the offender sat in costume and give the game away immediately, they are sat in a prison issue jumpsuit. There's absolutely no hair on their head, perhaps as a tip of the proverbial hat towards the late Charles Xavier. They have intimate knowledge of the X-Men, their operation and even Cerebro, helping S.H.I.E.L.D. to locate the new Mutants just as fast as Cyclops can. Hell, if Professor X weren't dead, he'd be top of the suspects' list.

I won't reveal the identity of this traitor, but I personally found the mystery to be quite lazy and trite. Bendis relies far too heavily on stripping away any identifying traits, meaning it could quite literally be anyone. By the time the final page rolled around, the image itself held no shock value, as the person in the chair didn't particularly look like the one we've come to know. This unfortunately left the dialogue to carry the weight of the revelation. If that logo were removed, we wouldn't have a clue as to who the traitor is.

7 out of 10

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