Tuesday, 13 August 2013

X-Men Re-read: Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire

Collects: Uncanny X-Men #475-486
Writer(s): Ed Brubaker
Penciller(s): Billy Tan, Clayton Henry

In which we follow Vulcan into space after the events of Deadly Genesis, as "A brand new era for Uncanny X-Men begins here!" Apparently.

Quick Synopsis
Core Cast: Darwin, Havok, Nightcrawler, Polaris, Professor X, Rachel Summers, Warpath

The title is suitably epic but we don't quite reach the heights promised. As far as I can tell an empire rises but doesn't actually fall by the end of the arc, but that could be down to titling a 12 issue epic before the story is complete.

Vulcan heads into Shi'ar space to gain vengeance for the death of his mother. Back on earth Polaris gets fixed after Blood of Apocalypse in a few pages and Charles Xavier assembles a team comprising of Darwin, Havok, Nightcrawler, Polaris, Rachel Summers and Warpath.

This is essentially a movie-esque chase with the X-Men fighting both Vulcan and the Shi'ar and the Shi'ar fighting Vulcan and the X-Men. With this being a Shi'ar story all the usual suspects are here, Deathbird, Lillandra, Corsair (Christopher Summers, the father of Vulcan, Havok and Cyclops) and the Starjammers.

Using marriage and murder, Vulcan manipulates himself to the head of Shi'ar empire, which doesn't quite work for me, too many characters follow him because he's now the Emperor, forgetting that he's a) human and b) a gigantic pain in the ass. We see the return of D'Ken from Uncanny X-Men #107-109, amongst others. I was surprised no other writer had brought him out of his coma until now. Unfortunately it's a lackluster return.

The consequence of the story are wide reaching, D'Ken and Corsair are both killed and Vulcan is left in control of Shi'ar empire (so I guess it hasn't really fallen, just risen?). Havok, Polaris and Rachel Grey are left in space, Xavier is re-powered via the M’Kraan Crystal and Hepzibah (of the Starjammers) is stranded on Earth (not to worry she joins the core cast of Uncanny in the next collection).

Tho not a problem with this collection per se, the conflict between Havok and Vulcan fizzles and sizzles through X-Men: Emperor Vulcan and X-Men: Kingbreaker (collected as Road to War of Kings) but ultimately blows out as Vulcan is offed by someone else in War of Kings (which I don't have), which is a shame as it had the potential to be a great story which ultimately leads to Havok, Polaris and Rachel Grey being stranded in story limbo until they are brought back in X-Men Legacy: Five Miles South of the Universe.

Best Bits
The set-up for the conflict between Havok and Vulcan. Professor X taking responsibility for Vulcan and assembling a team to go into space to hunt him down.

Final Words
Bold in scope and nearly pulls it off.

Almost Epic
7 / 10

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