Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blogathon 17: Uncanny X-Men #398

In my third year of undergrad, I took a special topics course on James Joyce's Ulysses. However, it was only one semester. Most of the classes at UWO, in English and poli-sci at leat, were full-year courses (aka two semesters). So taking a one-semester course was a little weird for me, especially when it came to scheduling my second semester for that year. So, I ended up taking the special topics course offered that semester since it was at the same time, on the same days and in the same room as the Ulysses class. It was on Arthurian legend and it bored the fuck out of me most of the time.

There were only two things that made it interesting for me:

1. Thinking about the narrative concepts at work and how they apply to comics.

2. Doing readings while listening to "Achilles' Last Stand" by Led Zeppelin. I wrote in one of my journal reports (lame assignment) that having that song on while reading about a battle made the whole thing work twenty times better.

But, I bring up this class because of the first point. One of the interesting things about Arthurian texts and medieval readers was that the goal wasn't to create something new, but to retell the same stories with slight changes. The fun of these stories was hearing what you've heard before only slightly different. Tell me that doesn't fit exactly in line with comics and, well, Casey's Uncanny X-Men run.

"Poptopia" wraps up with Chamber getting dumped, Wolverine killing Mr. Clean and everyone returning to the US all fine and dandy.

Apparently rumours that Sugar Kane is pregnant with a mutant bady pushes things a little too far, so her manager arranges for her to be kidnapped by government agents so she can be "checked out" and publicly declared mutie free.

The Sugar Kane plot ends with a very interesting speech she gives Jono (Chamber's real name) in a parking garage where she talks about how she had to evolve or die, career-wise. When Casey was promoting this book, he discussed the idea of evolving quite a bit, but he ended up doing what Kane did: replaying old cliches. Nothing Kane does to evolve is actually new: she finds an outcast and dates him, giving herself a "bad girl" image, while Casey recycles old plots. Again, the fact that it works for Kane and not Casey illustrates the difference between music and comics.

Ashley Wood provides the art here and it's about as easy-to-follow as his art's ever been. Maybe Sean Phillips doing layouts helped.

All in all, this story accomplished very little. Reused plots that went nowhere; characters with no growth; mis-mashed art. But, I always got the feeling like it SHOULD be a great arc, like Casey was going for something cool, he just failed.

In 30 minutes, we take a trip to the X-Ranch, which is one of the two coolest ideas that Casey throws out in this run.