Thursday, August 5, 2010

Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire by Ed Brubaker

As Luke Reviews fans know, I’m digging into X-Men, trying to get caught up to the current releases, and exploring the stuff I loved at a much younger age. My last stop was Ed Brubaker’s X-Men: Deadly Genesis, which was good, if not great, but seemed to do quite a bit to set up Brubaker’s run on Uncanny X-Men. After wrapping up Deadly Genesis, it was time to see the next title, Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire, Brubaker’s first under the Uncanny X-Men banner.

After the events of X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Vulcan flies out to space, intent on wreaking revenge on the man who killed his mother: D’Ken, the comatose former emperor of the Shi’Ar Empire. Professor Xavier doesn’t want to add more carnage to the wrath of his greatest mistake, so he gathers a team of X-Men consisting of Marvel Girl, Warpath, Nightcrawler, Havok, Polaris, and Darwin (introduced in Deadly Genesis) to race against time to warn Empress Lilandra that her Empire will soon fall under attack from one of the most powerful, and most dangerous, mutants alive.

Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire contains: Uncanny X-Men #475 (“Plan B”), #476 (“The Things They Left Behind”), #477 (“Vulcan’s Progress”), #478 (“Castaways”), #479 (“Double-Edged”), #480 (“Vulcan’s Progress (Redux)”), #481 (“Crossing the Rubicon”), #482 (“Imperial Rescue”), #483 (“Vulcan’s Descent”), #484 (“In Exile”), #485 (“The End of All That Is”), #486 (“Endings and Beginnings”), as well as sketches, a diagram of the ship used by the X-Men team, and an interview with Ed Brubaker and artist Billy Tan from an uncredited issue of Marvel Spotlight.

After the okay but not stellar performance in Deadly Genesis, I was a little hesitant about diving into this rather large story, but it turned out that I had absolutely no reason to be. Brubaker has created a fast-paced story that still maintains an epic scope. His storytelling is spot on, throwing wrenches into the plans of the X-Men at every turn, mixing action and solid plot together very well.

His characterization is also spot on. He reworks old character Warpath, and makes him a very engaging and exciting person to follow, and his work on new character Darwin is also top notch, making him a solid addition to the X-Men team, and very much an individual. His exploration of Vulcan gets a bit better, although it still felt a little weak for a villain taking up such a huge amount of the X-Men’s time.

Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall of the Shi’Ar Empire is space opera at its most fun, with an engaging cast of characters, plenty of space flight, and no lack of action and excitement. A very fun read.


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