I said the review would be up within the hour. It looks like I had about 5 minutes to spare.

General Information

Title: Uncanny X-Men #421
Author: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ron Garney
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: J.D. Smith
Original Publication Date: April 9, 2003
Cover Price: $2.25 US, $3.75 Can

Premise

Picking up where Austen’s second trade paperback collection
(Dominant Species) will end off, Havok has awakened from a
long coma. This issue is about relationships. It’s billed as the
first part of the X-Men vs. Alpha Flight battle, but Alpha Flight
doesn’t show up until the final panel. The second and final part of
the two part story ships on April 23.

High Point

“Don’t look at me.”

Low Point

The promotion of the issue. I was hoping for an X-Men vs. Alpha
Flight knock-down like the “Classic X-Men” reprint of “Uncanny X-Men
121” that hooked me on the X-books over a decade ago.

The Scores

It’s hard to get original when you’ve got over 400 issues of
comic continuity behind you, not counting 150+ issues of related
titles. This week was a set of relationships, in the same sort of
manner that Chris Claremont did so well. It was good, but not
original until the final panel. I give it 2 out of 6.

The artwork is good, but not incredible. We get a great
sense of Cain’s size, and the ages of the characters come across
clearly, which is important to aspects of the story. (The interior
art is considerably better than the cover.) The outdoor conversation
had very uniform colours, though, which just looked odd. I give the
artwork 4 out of 6.

The story is primarily a continuing chapter in the lives of
these characters. It doesn’t have a clear start or end, but this
story isn’t supposed to. It’s gotten me interested in the characters
again, though. It’s been a while since I read an X-book in main
continuity. I give it 4 out of 6.



The characterization was excellent. Personalities in the
large cast come through clearly, which is a requirement for a story
like this that depends on relationships. Kurt’s explanation of
Annie’s whereabouts, for example, said a lot about his character and
his awareness of those around him. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response this produced was strong. There are
moments here that will ring back to people who haven’t read the title
since Neal Adams’ run. (I just might pick up issues 425 and 426,
too.) That final panel was a long time coming, but it guarantees that
I’ll be back for the next issue. If Austen writes the on-duty
characters as well as the off-duty characters, I might end up adding
this title to the regular reviews. I give it 5 out of 6, hurt only by
the delay introducing Alpha Flight. (This is primarily a marketing
problem rather than a writing problem, but it’s a problem.)

The flow was smooth but unchallenging, since so much of this
was conversation. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is an excellent showing for off-duty heroes. I
give it 5 out of 6, greatly anticipating the next issue.

In total, Uncanny X-Men 421 receives 31 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

My possible and guaranteed future reviews of comics (and anything
else) are listed on this page.
If you see anything there that interests you, let me know. The next review in
a given category will almost always be one of the items tied for the
highest number of votes. (Exceptions will probably only be new
releases.)