Friday, October 11, 2013

Review # 59: "Uncanny X-Men - Divided We Stand"

"Messiah Complex" went madly off in all directions, so it should be no surprise that its follow-up moves in a straight line. Well, two straight lines to be exact. The "Uncanny X-Men" portion of "Divided We Stand" focuses on two stories: Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus taking a trip through Europe and Cyclops and Emma Frost taking some downtime of their own while simultaneously trying to locate team members who have disappeared.

Looking at those, you'd think the first of those two stories would be the hook. But it isn't. Despite a very funny prank that we learn about in the early-goings, the adventures of Logan, Kurt and Piotr don't really lead to that much in the way of excitement. They stir up some trouble in Russia, end up getting abducted and have an OK fight with a returning villain. That's pretty much it. It's fine, but not exactly earth-shattering.

The REAL money story is why the likes of Iceman, Hepzibah, Warpath and Angel have disappeared. While on recognizance in San Francisco, Angel notices that part of the city seems to be living in the 1960s again. Soon, he falls into the same trap, and I'm not talking about blue-and-yellow non-form fitting spandex. He forgets his mission, grows long hair, loses his costume and becomes a hippie. Something is rotten in San Fran, and it sure as hell isn't the 49ers injury-plagued passing game.

Scott and Emma travel to California and discover for themselves that most of the city is under a psychic influence that has rewritten their personalities. The culprit? One of Mastermind's daughters, Martinique. Worshiped by a select group of washouts who never amounted to a thing after their glory days in the Summer of Love, the amnesiac "Goddess" restores their youth (or at least the illusion of it) and grinds society to a halt. Cyclops and Emma don hippie disguises, but are forced to battle their enthralled teammates "Running Sun," "Frosty," "Lady Kitten" and "Angel." I'll let you figure out who is who yourself, though that last one is pretty damn obvious. In the end, the X-Men find their new home and all is well for the moment.

With "Divided We Stand," I finally feel like Ed Brubaker finds the right voice for all the X-Men. It's the visuals by Michael Choi, however, that steal the show. His art on the time-warped San Fran is something else, with an orange sky providing an ominous reminder that the ongoing peace is an illusion. Also, the 60s character designs are fantastic - Scott, Emma and Angel, especially. Warren's redesign after "The Dark Angel Saga" is reminiscent and possibly inspired by his look here.

Not essential reading, but it fills an important gap as the X-Men begin their move to the west coast. With the amount of anarchy in "Messiah Complex," "Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand" is a welcome break and a fun read.

Rating: 7/10

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