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The Future is Now

August 4, 2010

The X-Men enter the Heroic Age with the aptly named Uncanny X-Men: The Heroic Age #1, which bridges the gap between Second Coming and the line’s new Heroic Age storylines.  The book is basically three slightly overlapping stories, focusing on Cyclops, Beast, and Hope.  Cyclops’ starts out with a flashback to his conversation with Beast when Beast quit the team.  Then it comes back to the present, where Cyclops is fighting against velociraptors in the Savage Land to decompress.  In Los Angeles, Beast waits to go on a date with Abigail Brand.  Since so much time has passed, he assumes he’s been stood up.  Then, Molly Hayes of the Runaways shows up, and she starts asking him about extinction.  Hope is in the Baxter Building in New York City, where Mr. Fantastic is examining her.  And Franklin Richards keeps peeking in.  Cyclops gets saved from more velociraptors by Steve Rogers, who wants to chat.  Beast explains extinction and the fact that mutants will soon be extinct as well to Molly, but Molly insists that they have to believe in the promise of the new mutants.  When Beast brings up Nightcrawler and that he’s dead, Molly calls him depressing and smacks him.  Franklin sneaks in while Mr. Fantastic is doing some more tests on Hope to chat with her, though he gets spotted and grounded.  When Franklin realizes how out of sync Hope is with the modern world, he tells her that she’ll end up finding out how amazing this world is and how she’ll find a family too.  Steve Rogers tells Cyclops that they managed to save the world during Second Coming and that it’s time for the X-Men to come out into the light, to change public perception of mutantkind.  Beast ends up making Molly feel better by saying that the remaining mutants need to make the most of their lives to ensure that no one forgets them.  When Mr. Fantastic finds out that Hope was the Cooperstown Massacre baby, he asks her if she could try to investigate her parents’ medical history.  Hope just wants to go to Alaska to find out about her parents.  Cyclops receives a medal from President Barack Obama for what he did in Second Coming, on the insistence of Steve Rogers, and the X-Men are welcomed back onto American soil.  Later, Cyclops meets Hope on Utopia.  He ends up tossing the medal into the water, telling her that he’s not going to place any more expectations on her.  She can go to Alaska if she likes, and he’ll leave the new mutants to someone else unless she wants to help.  It’s her decision.

Well, this massive one-shot really should have been in the main series.  Yes, it would have made us have to wait longer to find out about the new mutants.  But I would have been okay with that.  The Hope story was especially important because it shows us exactly why she’s heading to Alaska to find out about her family.  In some ways, it’s also a perfect supplementary epilogue to the last chapter of Second Coming, with the X-Men getting a hero’s welcome.  That really should have been in the actual epilogue.  To be honest, this isn’t the best story.  For one, I find it very strange and very random that Cyclops is just fighting velociraptors.  He could easily get killed in that fight, and this is how he chooses to destress?  Sounds more like Wolverine’s schtick.  I just generally don’t like where Beast is going, because his moral objections to what the X-Men are doing are spectacularly selfish.  He’s willing to abandon his whole race, despite the importance of his scientific skills, simply because he disagrees with what his leader did.  You know, rather than try to change things, he jumped ship.  I do understand his rather resigned view of the future of mutantkind.  It makes sense, since he is a scientist.  But as Molly says, that doesn’t make it any less depressing.  Oh yes, and I still don’t particularly care about Hope.  Matt Fraction’s characterization of Mr. Fantastic was a tad odd (grounded?  why?), even if it was amusing.  And what Franklin said was very sweet.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Hope has yet to be written in a way that makes me like her or care about her at all.  I grew to like Molly more in the few pages of this book than I’ve ever liked Hope.  Whilce Portacio’s art is still way too stylized.  The way he draws Steve’s hair is just ridiculous, and he’s just not that good with faces.  Both Steve Sanders and Jamie McKelvie were good with their sections, even if neither of them were particularly exciting.  Sanders’ interpretation of Beast was rather… different.  But I’m still not sold on this new direction for the X-Men line.  I’m interested to learn about these new mutants, but I really wish there was some new talent in the writing department.  I’ve been so fed up with Fraction’s work on the X-Men for a while.  Even though his writing wasn’t that bad in this issue (less characters, so less genericization), but he still just doesn’t work with these books that well.

Plot: 7.8      Art: 7.8      Dialogue: 8.5      Overall: 7.5

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