Tag Archives: UncannyXmen

X-Men #3 – Review


X-MEN #3

Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colours: Marte Gracia

Released: 22/09/2021
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The X-Men have always spearheaded the weirder end of the Marvel universe (they’re not called ‘Uncanny’ for nothing!) and this has always been one of their greatest strengths. After a couple of issues that have been relatively straightforward as far as Marvel’s mutants are concerned (although excellent nonetheless), Gerry Duggan begins to lean into the bizarre for this third issue. Well, we say lean – dive headfirst might be more accurate. Electric elephants and robo-sharks, anyone?!

Duggan delivers another somewhat standalone piece here, albeit with another epilogue that shows that the story he is telling is anything but small. It’s skilfully balanced between moving the X-Men forward as the superhero team that they have once again become and reaping what they have sown following events stretching as far back as House of X/Powers of X. If Jonathan Hickman is the master of the long game, then Gerry Duggan is almost certainly his apprentice!

Until it’s quieter, continuity focused epilogue, this issue is essentially one big fight between the X-Men and the forces of ‘parasitic cockatiel’ The High Evolutionary, who turns up on Earth offering the mutants the chance to sterilise humanity, the greatest threat to the planet itself. It’s difficult to imagine what Xavier and Magneto’s answer to such an offer might have been in the early parts of Hickman’s run on the title; their actions were far from heroic at many points. But this team has very much cemented itself as a set of heroes from the get go, and the stage is set for a showdown that makes incredible use of the ever-impressive skills of artist Pepe Larraz. Every panel bursts with astonishing detail, but also big central focus points that leap out at the reader. This is an issue that’s worth a couple of extra read throughs – one to give justice to the pace that Duggan’s writing and Larraz’s broader strokes bring to proceedings, and another to take in every strange detail of the animalistic hordes that the X-Men face.

While the action itself is thrilling and The High Evolutionary makes for an intriguing villain, the route into the action does feel a tad rushed. It could have done with perhaps another page or two of lead in to dig a little more into the reaction of each of the mutants to the appearance of The High Evolutionary. While the standalone approach of each story month-on-month does work, in this instance it feels a little bit out-of-the-blue and the reasons for The High Evolutionary’s appearance on Earth are explained away all too quickly.

In contrast, the sub-plot of Orchis’ plans continues to be a slow-burn that leads to another excellent cliffhanger which hints at consequences aplenty for the actions of Charles Xavier over the past couple of years. The panels here are suitably moody and contrast in much the same way as the story at this point does to what came before – Pepe Larraz truly is one of the most versatile and talented artists in the Marvel stable.


VERDICT

Madness reigns in this third issue of Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz’s run and, boy, is it glorious. A slight misstep in the setup doesn’t detract from what is a simply eye-melting issue which foreshadows major upheaval both as a result of events way back and those that take place in this very issue. An issue of two halves, both of which are thoroughly entertaining.


Review by Nathan Harrison

Throwback Review – The Uncanny X-Men #146 – June 1981


THE UNCANNY X-MEN #146

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison


Written by: Chris Claremont
Art: Dave Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein
Released: June 1981
Publisher: Marvel Comics



The thing about winning streaks is that inevitably, inexorably, undeniably they must, at some point come to an end.

The Uncanny X-Men #146 came just a few short months after not one but two of the most iconic, revered, and well-regarded X-Men stories of all time – The Dark Phoenix Saga (so good they filmed it twice – badly) and Days of Future Past.
Even those with the most passing knowledge of Marvel’s mutant heroes will likely have heard of these essential parts of comic book history and they, of course, form small parts of a record-breaking and essential 17 year run on X-Men by the incredible Chris Claremont. However, even the best in the business have their off days…

This issue comes slap bang in the middle of a 3 issue tale, which sees the X-Men rescuing their foe, Arcade, from the clutches of Fantastic Four big bad, Doctor Doom. An exciting premise on paper…until you remember that Arcade is involved. While his elaborate escape room antics could be seen as a precursor to horror legend Jigsaw, Arcade appears as something more akin to a Chucky doll stuffed into a white suit and polka-dot bow tie, a look which must have seemed dated even in 1981.

Even fairly recent appearances in The Amazing Spider-Man have failed to update him in a convincing way. He’s the sort of lame, ridiculous villain that the comics try to take seriously but who’s crying out for the kind of treatment DC have recently given to Polka Dot Man in the latest Suicide Squad movie – main adversary for Deadpool’s first MCU appearance anyone?

That said, while the majority of the traps that Arcade and Doom set for Banshee, Havok, Iceman and Polaris (as well as some of the more popularly known X-Men who feature briefly) are on the silly side, there are some mind-bending and borderline scary panels – one featuring a merry-go-round with living vampiric horses stands out, as well as the twisty checkerboard hell that Wolverine finds himself in. David Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein do a solid job of conveying the terror – when the trap itself is actually in any way terrifying. Less impactful are Havok’s trip on what appears to be Space Mountain and the whole team sliding down the pipes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Special mention must be given to a panel from one of the final pages, which sees Havok…well…just take a look at that pose. Naughty boy!

Well hello

VERDICT

Claremont certainly can’t be blamed for going for a lighter story after the earth-shattering and emotional events of what came before, but this one sadly misses the mark. What should be a fun romp turns out to be a bit of a slog, with only a few moments of levity and the occasional nightmarish panel (you decide which category that Havok one falls under!) to break up the tedium. However, that’s not to take anything away from a legendary run which will undoubtedly feature on every comic fan’s must-read list until the heat death of the universe.


Review by Nathan Harrison 5/8/21