Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jason Powell on Uncanny X-Men #228

[Jason Powell continues his issue by issue look at Claremont's X-Men. For more in this series see the toolbar on the right or the labels below.]

“Deadly Games”

The end of Uncanny #227 promised that this issue would introduce the X-Men’s new status quo “down under.” However -- presumably due to Silvestri succumbing to deadline pressure -- we get a fill-in, set in the recent past (set between issues 220 and 221).

Right down to its generic title, “Deadly Games” reads in every way like a rush job. The plot seems rather fussily conceived – a Russian super-soldier turned KGB operative turned CIA asset turned Columbian drug lord? – and a few story details don’t quite gel.

Rick Leonardi and Terry Austin turn in decent work, though I’m reminded of Geoff’s disappointment at seeing the work of Igor Kordey in New X-Men when he wanted and expected more Frank Quitely. Kordey and Leonardi are both talented artists – and each is good at his characteristically messy/ugly style -- but they’re hardly stand-ins for “pop sexy.”

It’s not Claremont’s worst effort. And at a stretch, it could arguably be seen as a continuity patch that – in a vague, tangential way -- explains whatever became of the “Russian super-soldier” plot idea that Claremont introduced on the final page of Uncanny #194. By the same token, Henry Peter Gyrich was written out of the series at around that same time, so “Deadly Games” shows us what he’s been up to as well.

So, what we have here is a reasonably entertaining Wolverine/Dazzler duo story with competent art and entertaining dialogue, and which obliquely caps off a few dangling loose ends from a few years ago.

It’s certainly decent enough on its own terms, but lightweight compared to the intensity of the issues that preceded it – and, for that matter, the one about to follow.


Anonymous said...

Has Dazzler's bounty-hunter friend who we meet in this issue and his scary dog been seen since? He seems like an interesting character.

For all of Wolverine's lecturing the other X-Men on fighting skills he seems pretty lacking in this issue. He's right behind the bad guy at one point with a perfect opportunity to put his claws through the guy's back and kill him, but instead it looks like he places his hand on the guys shoulder (??) instead. And bounty hunter guy didn't get to do anything, even though he had a giant gun and probably could have just blown the Russian guy away at any point. Claremont normally puts together good fights in his stories so this one was a head-scratcher. Maybe Leonardi's artwork didn't sell it that well, but it seemed pretty lackluster to me.

As a side note, I do like the fact that Wolverine and the giant fierce dog get along fine. Animals love Wolverine!

Anonymous said...

Didn't DeFalco plot this one with Claremont on script only?* Could explain the generic nature and off beats of this issue... of course when Claremont scripts someone elses plot he goes all out, as he did in this issue and X-Factor 65-68.

*First non-Claremont plot in Uncanny since Issue 142 or 143!

ba said...

You're right; Claremont didn't do the plot of this issue. Which makes sense, because it's not really an x-men issue...it's more like an unreleased dazzler issue.

This is one of the first back issues I ever bought, and I didn't really get it at all, because I had not read Dazzler yet, to know who OZ Chase was.

It is indeed the definition of a filler issue, but you have to admit - considering the arc that just finished, and the ones coming up, it was certainly not a BAD filler issue.

Jason said...

Crazy, I never noticed DeFalco was plotter on this one.

DeFalco is a pretty bad writer, if Dazzler is anything to judge by. (I believe DeFalco scripted the first five issues, and they are just awful.)