Saturday, July 28, 2007

Blogathon 19: Uncanny X-Men #400

In his review of Uncanny X-Men #400, Paul O'Brien says, "UNCANNY X-MEN #400 is a damned odd book. This being an anniversary issue, it's doublesized. But of course, the book has no regular artist at the moment, so instead we get the 'What the fuck are they doing on the X-Men?' players, sharing the art chores." And he's right.

On art we have Cully Hamner, Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido and Sean Phillips. Hamner and Phillips provide clear art that fits, Pulido does a flashback scene where his similarity to Steve Rude brings to mind Casey and Rude's X-Men: Children of the Atom mini-series that dealt with the early days of the X-Men (before the first issue). Even Campbell's art, which is used to deal with the origin of the issue's villain works. But Wood . . . I have no idea what Wood is doing here. I like Wood's art normally, but this was from his "good luck figuring this shit out!" phase. It would probably work on its own (as it does in the 2001 Uncanny X-Men annual, which will get discussed later), but with the other artists, it's horrible to look at.

The story is pretty shit. The X-Men fight the Church of Humanity. Stacy gets kidnapped via teleportation with the annoying bit of dialogue where she begins to say "OH SH--" but on arrival, it's finished "--IVA!" That's bullshit. I know it's Marvel and all, but Shiva? She was clearly saying "OH SHIT," assholes. If you don't want to do that, don't begin to do it.

Anyway, Wolverine questions a captured member of the Church and learns the origin of their leader, the Supreme Pontiff and it's all kinds of lame. Basically, his mom fucked a blue bull, so he hates mutants. The X-Men arrive to save Stacy and Nightcrawler's head is fucked with. Everyone goes home and nothing is really accomplished.

But, there is a moment of interest when Stacy recounts how she joined the X-Men by stealing the typical mutant story: popular in school, mutation, outcast, kicked out, found by Professor X, one of the first students, dates Cyclops, sent to X-Ranch undercover. At least here Casey is reusing an old story for a fun and entertaining purpose.

The origin of the Supreme Pontiff also seems reused somehow, but I don't know where. Maybe just the "ordinary man becomes prophet" story is what's old.

The Church of Humanity is the same sort of group of bigots the X-Men always face.

Really, this is an issue of old ideas, only one of which is used in an interesting fashion. The Stacy stuff makes me wonder how much of that is here fucking with the Church and how much is a secret desire to have been Jean Grey, in a way, as she takes Grey's place in the story, basically. By this point, Grey is a public figure in New X-Men, a vocal representative of the X-Men, whereas Stacy is a former (well, not really) hooker.

O'Brien was certainly right in wondering what anyone was thinking using this as an anniversary issue. But, it's been my experience that anniversary issues tend to be shitty like this. They're usuallly double-sized, tie in with the current story and no one realises that the current story sucks. Another recycled idea? A purposefully bad anniversary issue in traditional X-fashion?