The controversial comic-book artist Greg Land (1956-) began his career in the 90s. His first big job was for DC, Birds of Prey (1999-2000), before moving on to CrossGen for which he drew 34 issues of the series called Sojourn (2001-2004). After the editors went out of business, Greg Land moved on to Marvel, for which he first drew some issues of several series. His first recognizable job for Marvel was the mini-series X-Men : Phoenix – Endsong (2005), followed by Ultimate Fantastic Four (2005-2006). Greg Land has been the main artist of the Uncanny X-Men series between 2008-2011 with Terry Dodson and for the relaunch of the series in 2012. After a little detour with Future Imperfect (a Secret Wars tie-in), Greg Land is back on Uncanny X-Men with a more ferocious team.
Following the end of Secret Wars and the release of the T-mist (which happened in the end of Infinity), Magneto has formed a team composed of the most ferocious and powerful mutants to protect their own kind. The first one is the reformed Sabretooth. The mutant’s spirit has been overturned during the AXIS crossover (2014), and contrary to everyone else he wasn’t touched by the counter-spell of Scarlet Witch – possessed by Dr. Voodoo – Dr. Doom and Red Skull. But I don’t understand why he isn’t back to the dark side yet, while the other untouched by the counter-spell, Iron Man and Havok, are back on track (we haven’t seen Havok yet, but we can assume he’s back on the hero way too). How can we explain such a thing? Is it a way Marvel has found to have a Wolverine replica – an other one since there is a All New Wolverine (Laura Kinney) and an Old Man Logan (Logan from an alternate reality)? Sabertooth is now a « good » mutant – as good as any mutant in Magneto’s team can be qualified. He jumped on the car, scariing the driver to death, before punching the windshield with his bare hand. He’s about to disfigure him with his claws, but stops right after the man wet himself. Sabertooth unexpected appearance is a little scary – or scary as death if you look at the driver’s face on the rear-view mirror – which works like a small panel closing-up on the driver’s terrifying face. But I’m not a fan of Sabertooth’s body, which is too large and muscular for his head. Although I like the last panel on which we see the driver’s relief and Sabertooth walking away from him.
The next page is one of my favorite. Because he has abused his powers, Magneto is weakened and has to rest for a while. There is a sensitive contrast between this vision of the mutant and his first appearance in the comic-book, flying and inveighing, stopping a truck at full speed. I prefer this version of Magneto, more human and sensitive than the all-mighty one. The new weakened Magneto reminds me of Cullen Bunn‘s Magneto during his own comic-book series while the powerful one is too similar to the one the X-Men used to defeat in the 60s. Greg Land has used the same pattern he used on the driver on the previous page: but this time, this is not relief that is expressed, rather tiredness, exhaustion. Magneto is the fallen hero whom powers prevent him to do whatever he’d like to do.
Luckily for him, his team as a secret weapon, who’s none other than Archangel himself. The last time we’ve seen Warren – the old one – he was still amnesiac and living at the Jean Grey School. Eight months later, the pure and innocent angel is gone and the devil inside him has resurfaced. But this time, Archangel seems to be an empty shell controlled by Psylocke. Without her, I think he would even attack his teammates. Just like Magneto and Sabretooth, Archangel made his entry a true spectacle, blowing up a truck. He looks more like the angel of death than he was under Apocaypse’s control in the 1980s: now, he doesn’t even have a soul or a spirit to communicate with. I wonder what happened to him, and I hope this isn’t an Apocalypse’s resurgence Cullen Bunn and Greg Land have found to add some mysteries on their series. Archangel’s transformation might be a consequence of Angel’s adventures during the Black Vortex crossover, since the young Warren didn’t give up on his powers like everyone else did.
The last page I’d like to talk about is the only double-page spread on the comic-book, on which every member on the team is present. The team is seen in a bottom view, which strengthens its’ charisma and mystery. If I’m a big fan of Magneto’s and Archangel’s hidden face, I’m not at all fond of M. She’s laughing like if she was shopping in Monaco, rather than fighting in the street. She was smiling and giggling during the fight and it is just disturbing: she is not a psychopath … at least she wasn’t until then. Maybe she has changed like Warren?
This first issue of Uncanny X-Men was a pleasant reading and I’m curious to see how Cullen Bunn and Greg Land will continue. How Archangel got this way, and why? Why Psylocke feels so concerned about him? Is she involved in his transformation? Is it because of the t-mist/m-pox? Magneto is back on his old self, but this time he even picked on the mutants cowards enough to pay to be put to sleep while their own people suffer from the M-pox. I don’t think this is a step back. On the contrary, Magneto has evolved. Sure he’s trying to protect the mutantkind against the humans’ rapacity, but he’s also trying to raise awareness among his own kind.