Friday, March 26, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #522

Matt Fraction & Whilce Portacio

Kitty Pryde returns to Earth in the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men written by Matt Fraction and pencilled by Whilce Portacio (with a minor back-up story drawn by Phil Jimenez).  She's been MIA since the final issue of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's run on Astonishing X-Men a few years back.  But while Kitty has been my favorite superhero since I was about eight years old (I started picking up comics period because I thought she was "pretty" on the Marvel Universe trading card I had, thus Excalibur was my first comic experience), I can't say I've really noticed her absence.  Since she's been gone from the Marvel Universe proper, Whedon has revitalized fans' enthusiasm for the character to such a degree that she's been in more series lately than when she was actually present (Wolverine: First Class, Exiles, X-Men Forever...)  That being said, I'm certainly not going to complain that she's back, because I'll never get enough of the character.

Last we saw Ms. Pryde, she was hurtling through space trapped in a giant bullet that she phased so that it would pass through Earth (its intended target) harmlessly.  So what a brilliant idea from Matt Fraction to bring her back the way he does.  With Magneto.  Metal bullet.  Master of magnetism.  Even with the distance factor, it's a giant fucking bullet speeding across the galaxy.  It took incredible effort on his part, but Magneto got her back in one piece.  Fraction also adds a little twist in that she's unable to unphase since she's been in an intangible state for so long.  I'm interested to see where he's going with that (especially since it's something we've seen the character go through more than once).  One of my big complaints about Kitty's return is the reunion.  It happens in the blink of any eye, without the breathing room such an event needs to bring any emotional resonance.  Colossus barely has a reaction shot.  Lockheed isn't even present.  She just sort of shows up and the next time we see her, she's in a stasis tube.  I think the biggest problem with this issue, and with the series overall for that matter, is that Fraction is playing with a rather unwieldy cast of characters and he just doesn't reign in the focus enough to highlight the handful characters he should to make it connect with readers more.  He's cramming in cameos with the Cuckoos and playing with what's going on with the team of professors and Cyclop's mental state and now Magneto's hurt from the strain...he just needs to narrow his focus to one thing at a time and make that thing important and compelling, make us invested in a few characters instead of just hitting dozens of them to please fans.  And to contradict myself a bit, I was happy to see the underused, underrated Dr. Cecelia Reyes in this issue in a minor cameo just because I think she's an interesting character with a lot of potential.  But I'd rather not see Reyes if it means I get a good story.  My other big issue with this comic was the art.  Now, I'm not saying that it wasn't a step up from the stiff photo-referenced stuff that series regular artist Greg Horn churns out, but I'm not a fan of Portacio's artwork here either.  It looks a little too 90's/Youngblood for my tastes.  It's competent - it gets the idea across, but that's all.  It's the bare minimum.  Nothing looks great (Magneto ripping apart a bullet and lowering Kitty to the ground should have been a show-stopper, not a "eh" scene) and it just left me cold overall.  In fact the whole package left me indifferent.  It should have excited me and left me looking forward to see what would happen next with Kitty, my favorite superhero.  But instead I'm left with the fact that Kitty's back in current continuity without the emotional impact that such a statement should arise in me, and a comic that portrays that return in the most mediocre fashion imaginable.

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