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Going Out of His Way to Apologize

April 8, 2010

Nation X comes to a close in Uncanny X-Men #522, and for once, we actually have only one major plot thread going on.  See, back when Magneto was working with the High Evolutionary, he noticed Shadowcat’s bullet flying around space.  Now, in order to prove that he’s sorry to the X-Men, he’s bringing it and her back home.  As soon as Angel brings the news, Cyclops figures out that Magneto is the cause.  Emma Frost stays to keep watch, and the X-Club brief Cyclops.  Cyclops orders them to find a way to prevent deep space sensors from causing a global panic, which they accomplish with a combination of the Three-in-One’s psychic abilities and Cerebro tech and Danger.  Cyclops informs Colossus, and the X-Men gather on Mt. Tamalpais to see what they can do with Magneto and await Shadowcat’s coming.  Mr. Fantastic chastises Dr. Nemesis for trying to trick him and for not asking for help, and Emma delivers a monologue about how much more comfortable Magneto is than Scott when it comes to possessing power.  Then, the bullet enters the atmosphere, and Magneto uses his powers to get Shadowcat out of it, then destroy it.  He passes out, and Shadowcat quickly discovers that she is still phased and cannot talk or touch anyone.  Both she and Magneto get help, and after a montage of various X-Men’s activities, Scott and Emma share a moment of intimacy before the upcoming Second Coming.  Then, in a short backup, we see the sad story of a planet that discovered that Kitty’s bullet was going to hit it in five years.  Everything goes to hell, and the rich people flee the planet.  However, in the end, as the main character finds love, the bullet passes through the planet.  And everyone is saved.

This issue was, by far, the most interesting of the Nation X storyline.  In fact, it might be Matt Fraction’s best issue on the title.  Why?  Because it gives some great character development to both Magneto and Cyclops.  My first instinct with Emma’s explanation of Scott’s issues with leadership was that it was a failed attempt to humanize Scott.  Yet, after going over it again, I’ve come to really like this added dimension to Scott’s character.  It really makes me like him more, and as moe of a round character than simply an ass.  The whole issue is handled rather well, even if Fraction clearly doesn’t have a handle on Mr. Fantastic.  I’m also glad to see Cecilia Reyes back in the fold, though it would be nice to know if she still had her powers or not.  Also, there was less of Emma than you might expect in this issue, which is good, since she’s possibly the character that Fraction has hurt the most with his interpretations.  The weakest part of the issue is Whilce Portacio’s art.  With a more skilled artist, there would be all this nuance in the characters’ faces, and we would have a clearer idea of what was going on.  Instead, whole scenes, like the one with Emma and Namor underwater, are just totally unclear.  Although Portacio renders Colossus and Kitty’s reunion rather well, everything else just seems weaker.  I mean, I’d rather look at his art than Greg Land’s but this title really needs an artist that fits it better.  The backup was even more emotional than the main story, even though this are all totally new characters.  Fraction really digs into the despair that a whole civilization feels when it knows that its doom is coming, as well as the hope and happiness that can spring from unlikely places.  Plus, Phil Jimenez is a way better artist than Portacio, so that was nice.  At any rate, I’m actually genuinely excited for Second Coming.  If Fraction had done more work like this, rather than wasting time with stupid plotlines like John Sublime’s new losers, Nation X would have been a bigger success.  Still, I’ll be happy when, someday, some new writer who really gets Emma Frost takes the book over and brings back the ice queen we all know and love to hate.

Plot: 8.6      Art: 7.2      Dialogue: 8.7      Overall: 8.5

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