Proving Grounds — Uncanny X-Men #17 Review

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Magik drops the Uncanny X-Kids off in unknown territory, and things get futuristic.

Actually, that last statement is a bit misleading. Futuristic implies technology, improvement, forward thinking.

No, this futuristic area is a changed area of Montana that has been “let go” for about a 130-million years.

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Like something out of a prehistoric horror story, the new mutants of the Uncanny X-Men are forced to survive on their own against dinosaur-like creatures and some humanoids who have a moment with Morph.

Lots of other interesting things happen as well. David Bond (Hijack) disobeys orders, Celeste gets shut down and separated from the Stepford Cuckoos’ hive mind, Eva Bell disappears and comes back older, and — Did I miss Phoebe dying her hair red in a past issue?

To make matters worse for the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up with Nick Fury, Hawkeye, and Spider-Woman. Bond leads the team out of the situation by taking over S.H.I.E.L.D.’s weapon systems before Magik teleports them to safety.

Back at Weapon X, or the secret New Xavier School, Cyclops gives the squad a passing grade — well, everyone except for David.

Though it might seem like Cyclops is overreacting, standards are tougher now after all that Scott Summers has been through. Justifying his decision by reminding everyone that lives have been lost due to other instances of poor choices being made — possibly in reference to himself — Cyclops makes an executive decision.

And with that, David Bond is an X-Man no more.

I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Mr. Bond, seeing as how everything Cyclops has been doing these past few issues is a deliberate chess move in his battle for mutant equality. And though he only shows up in the last few pages, Cyclops still makes it known he is leader supreme of this team and its major catalyst.

The issue’s other big plotline is the mysterious disappearance of Eva who shields herself with a time bubble, disappears, then comes back with some costume alterations, looking a bit older with longer hair. Just a few pages before, everyone points out Bell’s thing for Summers.

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Could this be the budding of a potential romance plot?

I’m glad that Brian Michael Bendis gives the young X-Men in Cyclops’ squad a chance to fend for their own. It’s part of their development, and they’re written well. As usual, there’s humor appropriate for the age group, and while they’re still green, the training is paying off.

On the flip side, and this might seem like a crazy idea, but perhaps there needs to be another X-Title. Cyclops’ umbrella encompasses three individual teams — the All-New X-Men, the Uncanny X-Men, and the new mutants.

All-New Marvel NOW, are you listening?

It’s not that the younger team isn’t compelling enough, it’s just for want of having my cake and eating it too. Cyclops still remains the most compelling figure, but right now, he’s relegated to a Nick Fury-like role in which he shows up only to assert his leadership. It’s very possible that Cyclops will get top billing, at least in the next issue, but can’t we all get equal facetime for all three teams?

Chris Bachalo on pencils and colors kills it this issue with some great panels and animal designs. There’s no sense that Bachalo’s holding anything back — each page is filled with portfolio fillers that any budding artist would love to have during an interview for a potential gig.

Faces are expressive, body language is decipherable, and characters are easily recognizable. I’m still not a huge fan of Bachalo’s colors because they tend to be a bit murky, but they are distinct and original.

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Supporting the pencils with great inks, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, and Jaime Mendoza have one of the hardest inking jobs in the business. Bachalo doesn’t fudge it on backgrounds, and this issue has flora and fauna that need special attention. Lines are crisp, and shadows are heavy when they need to be, and pixellated when they’re not.

I’m curious to see how this issue stands as a launching point. For entertainment purposes, if you’re a fan of Uncanny X-Men, this one is another solid entry for the title. For others, it’s a good jumping on point because it’s another issue of team-building and solidifying mutant powers.

Either way, the future looks keen, even if it’s in a crazy place like Montana.


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Uncanny X-Men #17 (2014)
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Marvel
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Al Vey, and Jaime Mendoza
Colors: Chris Bachalo
Letters Joe Caramagna

Previous Issue: Uncanny X-Men #16 Review
Next Issue: Uncanny X-Men #18 Review

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