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Comic Review: Uncanny X-Men #5

Uncanny X-Men #5 volume 5 Magik by Frazer Irving

Magik’s wacky Phoenix-damaged powers write the script for Brian Michael Bendis’ Uncanny X-Men #5, but it’s Frazer Irving’s art that steals the show – for better or worse – in an issue set as much in Limbo as it is at the Charles Xavier School for the Gifted. The result is a comic pulling itself in two different directions, damned to Limbo because the assembled elements never quite rise or fall far enough.

Irving’s style is a big, at times unnerving step toward realism, and a radical change from Chris Bachalo’s first four issues on Uncanny X-Men. Since much of this issue puts Magik up against the fiery demon Dormammu in Limbo (courtesy of her Phoenix-affected powers), Irving’s realistic watercolor style gets the chance to shine with the hellish scenery. However, for the real world scenes where there’s no fire and brimstone, it’s jarring to see the rest of the Uncanny X-Men through Irving’s lens.

His Cyclops looks creepy; his Emma Frost looks frumpy; his Magik loses the visual sharpness she had under Bachalo’s pencil. Irving can definitely draw fiery, shadowy demons, but his work takes much of the dynamism, and much of the edge, off the more colourful, grounded X-Men characters he’s working with.

Uncanny X-Men #5 also catches Bendis at a bit of a dull point. While Irving’s talents seem best-suited to the hellfire of Dormammu’s realm, Bendis’ snappy dialogue doesn’t play so well when one of his characters is a bombastic demon. Magik can crack wise all she wants; Dormammu isn’t likely to quip back, and that’s where their scenes together suffer.

Bendis’ dialogue gets more to work with in some hormone-induced banter between the teenage X-Men, but the exchanges again feel strange when paired alongside the Dormammu elements.

Uncanny X-Men #5 explores the impact of the Phoenix on Magik’s powers, but her struggle is overshadowed by the creative difficulties. The art and the writing feel like they’re wandering in uncomfortable territory, and with both elements set to intensify next issue, it’s tough to believe those problems will go away.

6.5 out of 10

  1. collegestudentessentials
    April 25, 2013 at 3:14 am

    Reblogged this on Ladies and Comics and commented:
    Is this the modern X-Men? I am always so confused when they do reprints and more modern versions.

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