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Uncanny X-Men #519

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By: Dave Wallace

Matt Fraction
Terry Dodson (p), Rachel Dodson (i), Justin Ponsor (colours)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Uncanny X-Men #519 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 23.

This issue of Uncanny X-Men sees Matt Fraction and the Dodsons present a story in which Emma Frost and Cyclops must cope with the fallout of their recent attack, during which Emma transferred the sliver of the Void that had been trapped inside her into the mind of her lover.

It's a fairly straightforward story of the kind that will be reasonably familiar to X-Men fans (and superhero fans in general), dealing as it does with a psychic battle that must play out inside the victim's mind. However, the slick artwork of the Dodsons livens up proceedings a little, with some ornate page layouts used for the scenes that are set inside Cyclops's head, and bold, confident storytelling and character designs used throughout the issue.

One problem with the story is that, with so much of the action taking place in the unreal mindscape of Scott Summers's subconscious, it's difficult for Fraction to create a sense of genuine jeopardy. As soon as Emma arrives in Cyclops's dreamstate and informs him that he can beat the Void as long as he has the willpower to fight him off, it's obvious that it's only a matter of time before Scott overcomes his demons. Ultimately, this kind of story has been seen too many times before to feel truly original or surprising. That said, Fraction does add one or two interesting details (for example, his use of Scott's ability to repress his feelings as a strength rather than as a weakness) and adds a little extra pressure to the story by threatening death for both Scott and Emma at the hands of Psylocke if they fail to succeed.

Elsewhere in the issue, we see Fraction build up several other subplots that are sure to become more significant in later issues. There's an opening tease involving Fantomex (that memorable mysterious mutant from Grant Morrison's run) that doesn't really go anywhere this issue, but has me intrigued as to how Fraction will use him in future; there's an interesting scene between Magneto and Namor that shows the pair forging an alliance that seems perfectly logical and natural given what we know of their characters; and there's a slightly more low-key development involving Beast that again feels authentic given the way that he has been characterised in the past, but doesn't feel particularly compelling at this point. Still, there's enough in the way of interesting characterisation and strong artwork here that I'll definitely keep reading to see where Fraction takes the book's many intertwining plot strands in future.






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