Friday, February 19, 2016

Review: UNCANNY X-MEN #600


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

WRITER: Brian Micheal Bendis
PENCILS:  Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving
INKS: Wade von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin
COLORS: Marte Gracia, Jason Keith, Chis Bachalo, Frazer Irving
LETTERS: VC's Joe Caramagna
COVER: Chris Bachalo
VARIANT COVERS: Art Adams with Jason Keith; Kris Anka; John Tyler Christopher; Olivier Coipel with Marte Gracia; Adam Hughes; Rick Leonardi and Dan Green with Jason Keith; Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines with Val Staples; Paul Smith with Paul Mounts; Leinel Yu with Jason Keith
60pp, Color, $5.99 U.S. (January 2016)

Rated T+

X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

With the arrival of the “All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe,” X-Men comic books are entering a new era.  Apparently if all the incarnations of Uncanny X-Men are added together, the result is that 600 issues of comic books entitled Uncanny X-Men have been published.  It is that 600th issue that marks the end of something, if not an era, then, the end of Brian Michael Bendis' tenure as an X-Men writer.

Uncanny X-Men #600 opens at the Jean Grey School for Higher LearningStorm has called all the X-Men currently residing at the school to a meeting.  It's an intervention for Dr. Henry McCoy, or you can call it “The Trial of Beast, and Hank sure ain't feeling the love.  Also, young Iceman has a serious talk with adult Iceman.  Plus, a summons from Washington...

I found the Iceman/Iceman conversation to be heartfelt, and the Jean Grey-Beast meeting felt like something big.  The rest of “The Trial of Beast” does not amount to very much.  After months of delay, all readers get is this tepid tale – simple as that.  Considering the high-quality work that Bendis did on Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men #600 is quite disappointing.


“Winter Carnival” (bonus story)

Writer: Mary Jo Duffy
Pencils: George Perez
Inks: Alfredo Alcala
Letters: Janice Chiang

As a bonus, Uncanny X-Men No. 600 closes with a reprint of the black and white story, “Winter Carnival.”  This 18-page story originally appeared in Bizarre Adventures #27.  This was the X-Men-themed issue of Marvel Comics' black and white comics magazine series that was published from the mid-1970s (under a different title) to the early 1980s.

The story finds Robert L. “Bobby” Drake a.k.a. Iceman as a visiting college student at Dartmouth College (an Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire).  The campus is covered in snow, which is appropriate as this is the time of year for the celebration known as “Winter Carnival.”  Bobby discovers that Iceman is needed when crime decides not to take the weekend off and join in the wintry fun.

I wish Mary Jo Duffy (also known as simply Jo Duffy) were still writing her character-centrist stories for either Marvel or DC Comics.  I don't think that she has written for either publisher in over a decade.  In this story, she allows Iceman to shine as a superhero, but she opens the interior Bobby Drake, depicting him as thoughtful and possessing of a personality and of a sparkling wit.

Many readers may not recognize the art in “Winter Carnival” as that of George Perez (I didn't.), as it has very little resemblance to the graphic style that would define Perez's career on works like New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Wonder Woman, to name a few.  However, readers will get a chance to see the talents of inker Alfredo Alcala, whose ink wash over Perez's pencils does not look as good on glossy paper as it would on some good old-fashioned newsprint comic books.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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