Uncanny X-Men #5 Writer: Cullen Bunn Pencils: Greg Land Colors: Nolan Woodard Letters: Joe Caramagna Publisher: Marvel
The Mutant race is again under threat yet again, this time it’s the Terrinen Mist which is poisonous to mutants. Some of them have seek refuge in Limbo, those being the Storm led X-Men team in Jeff Lemire’s Extraordinary X-Men series. Others have decided to take the fight to those threatening Mutantkind such as the Dark Raiders. This fourth volume of this historic series is focused on that team, led by Magneto with support from Psylocke, Sabertooth, Monet, and Archangel.
The strength of this issue and the volume overall comes from writer Cullen Bunn’s strong characterization of these long established characters. Particularly Magneto, who Bunn was previously writing a solo series of prior to the Secret Wars event. With the X-Men’s quintessential villain turned ally, Bunn has been able to elaborate the morals and inner-stuggles this incredibly complex character goes through. All the characters personalities are identifiable, the interactions between them are on point and intriguing to see how they’ll develop in future stories.
This issue also puts solid emphasis on showing the differences between the Uncanny and Extraordinary teams. Their different philosophies, views on the world, and actions in which they are willing to take in order to survive and combat those who threaten them. How the two teams react to a threatening situation is completely polarizing and this issue presents a strong example.
However this issue comes with plenty of flaws, a stand out being its story. Issue 5 wraps up the first story arc of this series and nothing has really been accomplished. It’s clearly nothing more then set up for the Apocalypse Wars crossover in which this series will be moving into with the next issue. There are references to this given through conversations between the Dark Raiders, which is frustrating because it only highlights arguably the number one problem with comic books now a days. An emphasis on crossovers and event stories rather then letting a writer develop characters within their own stories.
Another downer in this book is the art. Artist Greg Land, although I have difficulty in calling him an artist, is one of the most controversial figures in comics today. The man’s work is nothing more then plagiarism on steroids. It’s clear that every character in every panel is a photo reference and has been either traced or photoshopped to look original. There is an abundance of reused and recycled facial expressions and body poses and it’s completely disrespectful to those who he’s steeling from, other artist who do their own work, readers, and the entire comic book community as a whole.
Greg Land himself has admitted to using photo references, though not to the extant that he has been accused of. One of the sources of those photo references that he has admitted to using is pornography. The fact that Land is still able to get work that other artist can only dream of is one of the biggest crimes in the comic book industries history.
Uncanny X-Men #5 is an example of a writers strong understanding of characters identities whom have a long and complex history. Cullen Bunn has a grasp on their personalities, knows how to write for them, and how they’d interact with one another. Unfortunately he is unable to develop them in his own story due to editorial mandate and Marvel’s push on crossovers and event stories. Along with some of the most painful art to look at the issue is a complete disappointment. Hopefully Bunn will be allowed to tell his own stories in the aftermath of the Apocalypse Wars and we can get a new artist on this book in the future.
Score: 2 out of 5
Review by Eric Bradach