Friday, February 6, 2015

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 and All-New X-Men Annual #1 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

OK, many thoughts.

Overall, these two issues are really well done.  (In all honesty, they're essentially one long issue, so I'm going to refer to them that way here.)  Bendis loves a time-travel story; at this point, he knows not to get too lost in the physics questions and focus instead on the emotional aspects.  Throughout the first part of the issue, he shows us Eva's struggle just to confirm what year it is, confirming how desperately lost she really is.  In the second part, he makes clear her panic as she worries that she might never see her family again, setting up the devastating moment when she has to accept that.  Moreover, he conveys these emotions through a series of small moments, such as the Rawhide Kid pretending to threaten Eva's life to get her to jump to safety (and then quietly wishing her good luck) or Eva suffering a truly horrifying dream as her subconscious acknowledges the loss of her daughter before she does.  Bendis also keeps you engaged by dropping hints at the near future of the Marvel Universe, with a dying Magic insisting that Eva make sure that the Beast stands trial for his crimes and Tony Stark (now Sorcerer Supreme) telling her that he's going to soon face an existential crisis.  Throughout the issue, Sorrentino's unique visual approach manages to capture these small moments just as beautifully as the big ones (like fleeing dinosaurs or fighting Morgana Le Fey).  In the end, the pair delivers a detailed character study of the best new character to come from the re-launch of "Uncanny X-Men."


...I'll admit that I found it hard to entirely disregard that physics questions.  Maybe if this story was the only time-travel story on the shelves this month from Marvel, I would've been able to shrug my shoulders and go with it.  But, we've got a whole event -- "Spider-Verse" -- that involves multiple characters moving through time.  In fact, "Spider-Man 2099" is based on Miguel O'Hara getting thrown into the past and trying to return to his own future.  He successfully managed to do that in issue #6 and, so far, as far as we know, everything is the same.  Gabe, the Punisher, and Tyler Stone all knew who he was.  As a result, you have to wonder why Eva's 2099 disappeared entirely once she returned to the past.  Miguel had even spent a few weeks in 2014, and his world is, again, as far as we know, the same as it was when he left; Eva was only gone for a few minutes, and it disappeared completely.  Even within other time-travel stories that Bendis has told, the future hasn't completely crumbled when someone gets sent into the past.  The Brotherhood of the future that we saw in "X-Men:  Battle of the Atom" makes sure that it sends word of its failures to its future self so that it can alter its strategy.  That wouldn't work if its future self ceased to exist the minute that its members jumped into the past.

Unfortunately, these questions aren't just abstract musings on the nature of the space/time continuum.  The entire story revolves around the idea that Eva's future crumbles the minute that she leaves it.  Despite Bendis and Sorrentino doing a great job of getting us to feel Eva's plight deeply, I'm only giving this issue three stars because the time-travel inconsistencies can't simply be ignored.

*** (three of five stars)

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