Friday, October 17, 2008

Uncanny X-men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire

By Ed Brubaker

Art by Billy Tan and Clayton Henry

Wow. Where to start? New characters with ties to old characters? Emotions running deep and rampant? The bonds and betrayal of family? Romantic entanglements? Political struggles on a galactic scale? Space pirates? Or how about a hero with really BIG sword? You’ll find all these things in this enjoyable graphic novel.

The book starts right after the events of X-men: Deadly Genesis, where we met Cyclops and Havok’s previously unknown brother, Vulcan. Unfortunately, for the X-men, Vulcan harbors a vicious grudge against the Shi’ar Empire, whose Emperor D’ken was responsible for the death of Vulcan’s mother and his own enslavement. Unfortunately, for Vulcan, the emperor he wants revenge upon is in a coma, and Vulcan becomes a pawn in the struggle between the two imperial daughters, Lilandra and Deathbird, for control of the Shi’ar Empire. Of course, things don’t end exactly how anyone planned, and the X-men are split up. Professor X, Nightcrawler, Warpath, and Darwin are prematurely sent back home with one of the StarJammers, while Rachel Summers, Havok, and Polaris are left behind to deal with the new political order. All of which leaves things open ended for the next adventures.

Ed Brubaker also introduces a new character named Korvus, who has ties to the Phoenix Force. He’s an intriguing addition to the X-men mythology, and I’d say look for him, but I don’t think you can miss his BIG sword.

They did an interesting thing with the art in this graphic novel. The parts dealing mainly with Vulcan and the Shi’ar Empire are drawn by Clayton Henry, who has a clean, straightforward, and static style. The parts dealing with the X-men and the outlaw Starjammers are drawn by Billy Tan, who has a looser, shadowy, dynamic style. Besides being particularly appropriate for their respective characters, the styles of both artists fit the mood of their respective storylines and settings. Yet, the individual work complements each other, making a harmonious and multilayered whole, instead of a discordant eyesore. I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing more such artistic collaborations on titles, as I’m sure it would help with production delays, if they were as good as this one.

If you like Star Wars, space opera, the X-men, or just a rousing adventure story, this book is for you. To reserve Uncanny X-men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire click here.

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