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Uncanny X-Men #504

Posted: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
By: Alex Rodriguez

Matt Fraction
Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson (i), Justin Ponsor (colors)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Uncanny X-Men #504 arrives in stores tomorrow, November 19.

I have always been a fan of the X-Men franchise because of its distinct message. Of all the Marvel titles I found this one to be the most easily identifiable with for the most diverse group of readers. This issue of Uncanny X-Men continues that tradition. The story interchanges between Cyclops and Colossus who are struggling to deal with sudden changes in their lives. In the meantime, the possibility of overcoming the magic that ended the mutant gene has arisen, and Archangel and Beast are trying to recruit Dr. Nemesis to the X-Men team. But this hope does not come without a price.

I really enjoyed this issue. Fraction has a good grasp of what I always felt reached most to X-Men readers. Everyone at one point or another feels like an outsider and the X-Men personify that isolation, while also breathing understanding and compassion to the readers. Heartbreak is a theme that runs rampant throughout this issue, showing how memories are stored away and how walls and illusion are made so as to allow us to keep moving forward until we can truly come to handle challenges and losses we have faced. What I enjoyed about this story is that Fraction gave us the two sides of the coin. He gave us Cyclops--who has closed off his hardships and feeling--and Colossus--who presents them to the world. Cyclops' "strength" even manages to hold out Emma Frost. But the purest moment occurs when Colossus is in the diner. This moment allows us to see how appearances can be deceiving. Although Colossus is so large and strong, he runs in fear. Fraction also discusses more serious world conflicts, such as genocide. The words spoken in those scenes evoke times passed and harsh situations still occurring around the world.

The art team does a great job with panel layout. I really enjoyed how some of the characters overlapped into other panels. This allowed the art to pop off the page, sometimes even giving them an almost 3D effect. The panels are rich with color and the use of dark colors and shadowing is done well. Nightcrawler alone can be challenging to design well -- he's more than capable of looking like a black blob with blue hair and yellow eyes. The balance used in coloring and shading him allowed the tone of his skin to come through. Colossus too can be a challenge to color when he is in his metallic form. Since metal is reflective, the art team must pay extra attention to where the light source is in every panel, even in shots where the entire panel is lit. His very presence in a panel makes it that much more detailed.

It's always interesting to see what an artist will do with a character whose eyes are a solid color. How they will shape the rest of the character's body or face in order to sell the reader a genuine emotion. A defining moment of this art team's execution of their tactic is a close-up of Colossus in shock. They pop the look of the cheekbones, tighten the mouth, lift the brow, and provide for a starker contrast in the silver and blues to give Colossus a look of shock. What is great is that just three panels later, the team shows us how powerful well-drawn eyes can be and how they can define a panel.

All-in-all, this makes for a good read that leaves you wanting more. Come Wednesday, pick up a copy from your local comic shop.







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