UNCANNY X-MEN #10
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Frazer Irving
Release Date: August 14, 2013
Scott Summers and his disjointed band of X-Men have encountered nothing but trouble since the disgraced Summers decided to launch his own school in an abandoned underground bunker. Everyone from the Avengers to S.H.I.E.L.D. has been after a piece of Cyclops, and with the added chaos of broken powers, untrained students, and a possible traitor on the inside, this motley branch of the X-Men franchise has nothing to fear but pretty much everything.
In this issue, we get a vivid look at both sides of the Uncanny X-Men coin, and the core that lies between. On one side, Maria Hill, Director of the controversial organization S.H.I.E.L.D., is still gunning for Cyclops’s head; on the other, a sympathetic portion of the public have spilled into the streets in support of Summers and his ideals. But the subtle centerpiece of the issue remains the X-Men and their continued struggle not just with their abilities, but with deciding how to respond to the world rapidly changing around them.
Frazer Irving — who is responsible for the entirety of the art — presents truly unique visuals, eerily luminescent and almost nightmarish in their vibrancy and lack of discernible background. Newcomers to Irving’s work may find his art too stylistic at first glance, but it’s put to excellent use as Irving strums up the mood with splotches of well-chosen color and helps set the story with pictorial expressions and body language cut into extreme focus. The drawback to this style is that while it’s gorgeous, it can be alienating in scenes that lack high emotion — luckily, Bendis hasn’t left much room for dragging in this issue.
Bendis seems to have a knack for bringing real-world social issues in as inspiration in the mutant struggle, and it shows in the series’ many high-passion moments and impromptu speeches. Whether readers are tempted to cheer Scott Summers on or harshly criticize his statements, Bendis has flawlessly achieved mirroring reality in this book’s internal controversies, and readers have been getting stirred up. Stack that in with Bendis’ care to highlight the ongoing personal struggles of the characters, and his timely application of humor, and you have an extremely engaging read.
Unfortunately, the issue seemed far too short (particularly for being a $3.99 book), a problem compounded by Irving’s large-paneled pages. And while the Bendis/Irving team excel at storytelling in fervent scenes, the progression of the book feels leashed by the limitations of Irving’s style, something that will hopefully be rectified by Chris Bachalo’s return next issue.
There has been much speculation about the direction of this book, and while its intended future remains uncertain, readers can be assured wherever it goes, it won’t rest on Scott Summers’s shoulders alone, but on everyone’s shoulders, from S.H.I.E.L.D., to the public, to the team that’s struggling to find its footing inbetween.