Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week – Uncanny X-Force #9

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Billy Tan

This week was a little difficult; here I was thinking my pick would go hands down to Fear Itself Book Two. Why? Well the introduction of the Worthy had got me excited. Not only that but with the slow start of Book One, there was expectation that things would really pick up. But then reading the latest Uncanny X-Men issue, I was amazed at the small, self-contained story that managed to have a lot more heart than you could have possibly expected.

Centring on Wolverine and Magneto, the story is about Magneto finding out the where about of a particular Nazi from his past. Knowing the existence of the Uncanny X-Men he enlists Wolverine in the task of killing the man. What could have been a brutal and bloody affair is actually transformed into a very sad story. This is in part, thanks to the awesome art of Billy Tan. The facial expressions that he creates for both Magneto and Wolverine, show men at odds with their feelings, and while they are both far down long dark roads there is a sense of ever pervading sadness that haunts them about what could have been.

The layout of the comic is four panels on each page, top to bottom, no deviation from this form what so ever. It really does make this comic stand out, and also at the same time create a flow to the story that could almost be like film. There is also a minimal use of dialogue. In fact right at the beginning Dr Nemesis (an X-Man) tells Namor (helping the X-Men at this point) to shut up and walk away. In my mind this sets the tone of the story. All super heroics please be checked at the door, this story is going to embrace the medium of comics and show exactly what can be done.

I’m thinking this is creating the impression that this particular issue is a sombre affair, and while yes the main brunt of the issue is serious, Remender allows Deadpool to at least have a line, and also to have some slight comedy. In this way the issue isn’t just a serious one shot for the sake of doing something different, but it add layers to this already fascinating series. Every character here is well realised, and I’m astounded how brutally honest this series can get some times. Harsh decisions, betrayal of morals, and an understanding that no matter how necessary they think their work is, no one on the team is going to get away with their souls untarnished.

This entire story is calculated on what is show exactly; some comic book fans may love the fact that there are little references in the pictures, but for me calling them references cheapens what is trying to be done. They are more reinforcements of what was, and how far the characters have yet to fall. Moving a little away from this particular issue I have to give a major round of applause to Remender for allowing each and every character to have their moments.

If there is one small complaint I have, it is the title. It’s called High Art and it instantly makes you aware of the intent of issue. I can’t help but feel it was a little smug; maybe that’s the point, or I’ve missed something, but I wish they didn’t use such an obvious title and let the readers decide it this comic exceeded normal convention to become something unique and wonderful. But honestly this is just a small nitpick.

This issue is brilliant, and being so self contained I would recommend anyone to just sit down and read. You really don’t need to know much background, and most of the story is told through the art which is spectacular in my opinion. I am a fan of this style, and reminded me of the art in the current Flash comics, which I’m also enjoying. Get out there people, and get this issue.

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