Thursday, October 23, 2008

X-men: Emperor Vulcan

By Christopher Yost

Art by Paco Diaz Luque

Picking up right after the events of Uncanny X-men: The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, this graphic novel follows the X-men left behind in another galaxy to deal with Vulcan, the third Summers brother, now ruthless Emperor of the Shi’ar Empire. He’s not the uncontested Emperor, however. Professor X’s old flame, the dethroned Lilandra, is still alive and leads those rebel Shi’ar loyal to her, the Starjammers, and the X-men, including Vulcan’s own brother Havok.

As if this weren’t conflict enough, an unknown race named the Scy’ar Tal enters the fray, and they want _all_ the Shi’ar dead. Needless to say, this prompts a realignment of alliances to deal with the Scy’ar Tal -- just the first of many. This book is chock full of double crosses, shifting alliances, and unexpected surprises on a grand scale. Like Star Wars, it’s a glorious and entertaining space opera and yet, it has the intimacy of a family drama, as siblings (Havok and Vulcan, Lilandra and Deathbird) square off against each other.

And most the characters, in a very large cast, are fully realized with their own understandable, if not entirely agreeable, motivations, adding yet another layer of depth. I’m still fascinated by the new character Korvus, even if we don’t get to see as much of him in this graphic novel. And I’m a little disappointed in the smaller role Polaris plays, as I’ve always thought she was interesting character, but there’s always the next book.

The art is suitably grand for the tale. Luque may not have the dynamism of Tan, or the clean lines of Henry, but he delivers a nicely polished panel and conveys the space battles in a cinematic manner. I haven’t seen his work before, but I’ll definitely watch for it now.

I won’t spoil it, but it turns out that the Scy’ar Tal aren’t entirely unknown, just forgotten. Nor does the fun end here, with one side triumphant, but we’ll have to wait for things to be resolved in the next big event at Marvel, War of Kings, later in the year.

To reserve Emperor Vulcan click here. To reserve Uncanny X-men: The Extremists, and read what happened to the X-men who returned home, click here.

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