Review: Marvel’s Relaunch Of “Uncanny X-Men” Returns To The Mutants' Glory Days

Review: Marvel’s Relaunch Of “Uncanny X-Men” Returns To The Mutants' Glory Days

In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on November 2, 2011.

Reviews by Jason Serafino (@serafinoj1)

Uncanny X-Men #1

What it’s about: After its initial launch in 1963, Uncanny X-Men struggled to gain a following. Soon after its creation, the book was relegated to featuring reprints of older issues and was on the brink of cancellation; however, after the book was reconfigured with Giant-Sized X-Men #1, the title quickly attracted an audience.

Introducing new mutants like Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, Uncanny X-Men quickly became one of Marvel’s most critically and commercially successful titles under the creative eyes of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Byrne. Now the book is getting a facelift for a new generation courtesy of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Carlos Pacheco.

What to expect this month: With the X-Men split into separate camps following the events of the Schism miniseries, Cyclops will lead this new team of mutants from their home base of Utopia, a man-made island off the coast of San Francisco. The team will be a more traditional superhero squad, as opposed to Wolverine’s school full of youngsters, but it will also be more ruthless and aggressive towards saving mutants from the rest of the world.

Featuring former villains such as Emma Frost, Magneto, and Namor, the rookie squad will be at constant odds with mutant and human alike. But some harsh words and criticisms from the general population is nothing compared to what Mister Sinister has up his sleeve for Cyclops and crew. Much like last week’s debut of Wolverine And The X-Men, Uncanny X-Men #1 looks to reestablish the X-Men as one of Marvel’s premiere properties.

Action Comics #3

What it’s about: Longtime fans may have been skeptical at first, but DC’s new Action Comics series has finally launched Superman into a new age. Mixing modern storytelling sensibilities and fleshed-out characterizations, no longer is Superman a cape-wearing god who is completely out of touch with humanity.

Writer Grant Morrison has updated the character to be more human than ever before. Supes hasn’t been powered down or neutered of his amazing abilities, but now the Man of Steel feels pain and anger, which is something he hasn’t in the past. 

What to expect this month: While the first two issues of Action Comics showed the Man of Steel flexing his muscles against Lex Luthor and some government cronies, such as General Sam Lane and John Corben, Action Comics #3 delves into the new origin of Superman. This issue features a series of flashbacks which helps fill in the blanks of what actually happened when Krypton was destroyed and how Brainiac played an integral part in the planet’s destruction.

Last issue, it was revealed that Luthor is secretly working with Brainiac in order to capture Superman, but now some more light will be shed on just what the super computer has in store for the Man of Steel. The story here will also show what happens when the citizens of Metropolis grow wary of their new caped savior.

Animal Man #3

What it’s about: When DC first announced their “New 52”, most fans gravitated towards high-profile books like Justice League and Detective Comics; those titles have turned out to be decent reads, sure, yet nothing so far has matched the creativity in Animal Man. Written by Jeff Lemire, and with art by Travel Foreman, this book is a twisted fairytale with fully realized characters and a truly unique plot.

Lemire’s Animal Man doesn’t simply follow what Grant Morrison did with the character back in the ‘80s. He adds some supernatural/horror elements to Buddy Baker as he desperately tries to balance his family life with his existence as a superhero.

What to expect this month: After the bizarre events of the first two issues, Buddy Baker’s daughter takes her crime-fighting father to visit the Life Web, a place where every Animal Man of the past resides. It's here that Baker must learn what his real purpose is in life and how he can defeat the corruption that is planning on overtaking the human race.

Any true fan of horror or the supernatural should instantly be drawn to the intense nature of the title. The tone and flavor of the book is aided by the minimalist art of Travel Foreman. His disturbing use of gore and unsettling creatures is the perfect compliment to Lemire’s scripts.

Swamp Thing #3

What it’s about: You would have to go back over seven years to find a time when a Swamp Thing book was actually worth the $2.99 price tag, but Scott Snyder’s new take on the vigilante of vegetation has given new life to the character. Snyder has done more than rehash old themes and stories from the character’s past—he has also added new elements to Swamp Thing’s lore and expanded upon his backstory.

Taking full advantage of his roots as a horror writer, Snyder has presented a Swamp Thing book with all of the smarts of his previous comics, but with an atmosphere and tone that is often absent from mainstream comics.

What to expect this month: Usually the news of an old flame being back in town is a good thing for most red-blooded males, but when she shows up pointing a shotgun at you then you might be in a bit of trouble. Here, Alec Holland must find out why Abigail Arcane is back and what opposing force she’s working for. This issue also sees the debut of William, a young boy in a plastic bubble who might turn out to be one of Swamp Thing’s most powerful enemies over the next few months.

Between Snyder's sophisticated scripts and Yanick Paquette's gruesomely gorgeous art, Swamp Thing is one of DC's premiere books alongside Animal Man, Batman, and Action Comics. This issue sets in motion the larger scope of Snyder’s upcoming Swamp Thing story arcs, as well as a rumored crossover with Animal Man next year.

Batman: Noel

What it’s about: Just in time for the holiday season, DC Comics is releasing Batman: Noel, a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol set in Gotham City. This book will take a look at the past, present, and future of the Dark Knight as he must come to grips with his own life and what he can learn in order to avoid a bleak future.

Batman: Noel will feature the evolution of the character from his campy ’60s roots, to the grim-and-gritty version that graces the comics and movies today. The book is written and illustrated by Lee Bermejo, who's one of the more gifted artists in all of comics. Batman: Noel isn’t just a gimmicky Christmas book—it’s a love letter to the Dark Knight's history, honoring just how well the character has evolved over the years.

For longtime Bat fans who have a hard time getting into monthly comics, Batman: Noel should be a welcome sight. There's no complicated backstory to memorize and the entire tale is included in this one oversized hardcover. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Bermejo’s ultra-realistic take on the Caped Crusader's suit easily outshines any version that has ever been presented in film or TV. Those Hollywood costume designers should really take note.

Tags: dc-comics, marvel-comics, batman, animal-man, swamp-thing, action-comics, superman, grant-morrison, comics
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