The second title in the X-Men family to oppose S.H.I.E.L.D. in the last two months, the Uncanny X-Men gear up to try to take down one of the biggest powers in the Marvel Universe. Meanwhile, Alison Blair is trapped on the new Utopia and S.H.I.E.L.D. has Hijack as a hostage. Let’s see, is it good?
Uncanny X-Men #19.NOW (Marvel Comics)
This issue serves as mostly a set-up issue, and I’m not saying that as a bad thing. We establish that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Christopher, that the real Alison Blair is trapped on Utopia under the control of the all too powerful Mystique and someone who may or may not be S.H.I.E.L.D. is gunning for the Uncanny, sending many sentinels that have newly developed capabilities. Because this issue took the time to just set the characters up at their starting positions we have a much better sense of the powers at play and what a war with S.H.I.E.L.D. will really mean.
This issue, like almost every other issue before it, has witty dialogue with some sharp lines (courtesy of Maria Hill) and a very strong emotional core. I read this comic, trying to find anything wrong with it but I ultimately fail, because the character encounters are just so well written and entertaining. Maria Hill is both funny and has an interesting perspective. None of the X-Men are at all whiny or overdramatic; they’re simply a joy to learn about. Where characters and dialogue are concerned, Brian Michael Bendis gets an A+ for this issue. But, that’s not all I’m judging.
First of all, and this didn’t upset me at all, just thought it needed pointing out, this is a terrible issue to jump on. It references past events and counts on you knowing where the characters stand. What is upsetting is that the creative team would discredit their previous work so much by giving this a #1. If you haven’t read the previous 18 issues you aren’t going to appreciate any of the character development, much less this issue as a milestone. I strongly believe that this #1 was only for marketing purposes, I really can’t find another explanation.
This sort of counters the point I was just making, but I have to say, I’m sick of sentinels polluting this title. They’ve been such a common plot telling device that they have completely lost their sting. The involvement of mutant killing machines in this issue was about as shocking and original as Scott Summer’s birthday.
Is It Good?
If you’ve been reading since the start yes. If you’re jumping on now, not at all. I highly recommend this book but only following all of its predecessors. I just think that this marketing gimmick in particular detracts from the actual work and really makes comics less good overall.