Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #531

“Quarantine” part two by Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, and artist Greg Land.  Per Cyclops’ orders, no one is allowed in or out of Utopia after a strain of HX-N1 (the mutant swine flu?) spreads over the island infecting mutant after mutant and causing the carriers not only to manifest acute symptoms but also to lose their powers.

Dr. Rao takes Scott on a tour across the infirmary to show him the devastating impact the virus is having on everyone; even Namor in the middle of his royal stubbornness is bedridden and unable to attend to his duties.  Also, for the 1100th time Wolverine is suffering from adamantium poisoning due to the loss of his healing factor.

A small cadre that was off the island when the outbreak occurred is now representing the team:  Angel, Northstar, Dazzler, Pixie, and Storm are sent by Cyclops on a mission to Chinatown after Logan’s delirious plea.  While this is happening, the CEO of the Sublime Corporation, the man known only as Lobe, sends his own team of X-Men wannabes to Chinatown as part of a P.R. stunt.  At the same time, in Utopia, Dr. Rao injects herself with a lethal dose of HX-N1 to determine whether the disease is harmful to humans.

Fraction and Gillen make an attempt to give some deserved attention to characters other than Wolverine, Cyclops, and Emma, although with minimal success.  Storm and her team get less than four pages, while the hogs get about 13 pages of story.  We learn more of Emma’s past with Sebastian Shaw; a theme that has been used and abused to death the last couple of years.  The pointlessness of this plot is ridiculous: unknown to everyone else, Shaw was a prisoner of Emma’s in Utopia; now he’s free, so it’s like he was never there in the first place because no one knew about it in the first place… what?

Lobe plans to make humans addicted to some compound that turns them into mutants, the new cool thing to be.  This has been done before; during Morrison’s run, mutants were becoming addicted to “kick” which enhanced their powers, and was also Sublime’s creation.  Another thing that has been done before? A virus that attacked mutants and had the potential to infect humans, Legacy Virus anyone?  And how many times have we had a fake team of X-Men mimicking the original five? The most recent incarnation was known as the Dark X-Men.

Storm, Angel, Dazzler, Northstar, and Pixie

The art.  I know that Greg Land’s pencils are an extremely polarizing subject, I am in the “dislike” pole; those ecstasy expressions drive me insane.  It is hard to appreciate the inks or the colors when the pencils are so irritating, but my perception is that they are good.

Things that I liked about this issue: the one page spread of Storm and her team landing in Chinatown, the courage that Dr. Rao showed by injecting herself -I really can’t guess whether she is going to get infected or not- and Dazzler’s line “Hey, not old-fashioned. Not retro. This is classic X-Men.”  If only that were true.  That line coming out of Alison’s lips definitely has significance, being that she is the one who is always defined by fans as retro.  I hope it’s symbolic of more attention for the beautiful songbird.

Overall, the second chapter of “Quarantine” is a mediocre issue at best; I see a tiny spark of hope that the rest of the team will get more attention, but only next issue will tell.  I plan on getting it, and then we’ll see.

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