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X-Fan Reviews:
Uncanny X-Men #421
By The X-Fan Team


Reviewer: Brian E. Wilkinson
Quick Rating: Great!
Story Title: Rules of Engagement, part 1 of 2

Havok wakes up to find a very different world than the one he left.

Written by: Chuck Austen
Cover by: Chris Bachalo
Pencilled by: Ron Garney
Inks by: Mark Morales
Letters by: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Mike Raicht
Editor: Mike Marts
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
President: Bill Jemas

FINALLY. Havok is awake, and we get to see his reaction to the changes in the world around him, and the reunion we've been eagerly awaiting since writer Chuck Austen first came on board. Right from the start, we get to the things that Alex has missed during his time over in Mutant X after the diastrous events in X-Factor #149.

And I didn't realize so much had passed. Seeing the look on Alex's face, done wonderfully here by artist Ron Garney, as he hears about the World Trade Center, the death of Colossus, secondary mutations, the devastation of Genosha (where fans will remember he briefly worked as a magistrate), and the evil of Cassandra Nova.

That doesn't even scratch the surface, either.

It's one thing for characters to be trapped in a limbo of a writer's choosing. They go off, live their lives, and have unseen adventures. It's another for a character to be completely removed from the events of his world to come home to find himself a stranger. For some reason, I expected more obvious joy, let the solemness and frankness of the conversation between Alex and Xavier was exactly what was needed.

Then things get weird. Even though I saw it coming a mile away, heck, we ALL saw it coming, Alex and Lorna have gotten engaged. Kind of, anyway. Congratulations come fast and furious from the group after Lorna proposes, but Alex never actually said 'yes'. In fact, Austen does a good job of subtly pointing out that when the duo last parted they were on shaky terms at best. I don't blame Alex for being a bit stunned.

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My only complaint was that Austen made it too obvious that Alex isn't entirely comfortable here. I mean, he doesn't know that Lorna is an insane nutjob yet, but he'll figure it out soon.

But now I'm conflicted. I was a HUGE supporter of Alex/Lorna, but seeing Annie's reactions, hearing her and Paige discuss love and relationships, I can't help but feel bad for her. Austen brilliantly takes the readers feelings and expresses them through a surprisingly sympathetic Cyclops. Austen handles Cyke wonderfully, but I'd like someone to try and give Scott at least something resembling a personality in the near future.

So, am I happy for Alex and Lorna? Well, yes, because I've always wanted them to be together. But, things change, people change, and now I'm not so sure. If she was her old self, I'd be doing a fanboy happy dance... but as of right now, I just hope she comes back from the happy farm.

And not to be overlooked this issue was Juggernaut's request to officially join the X-Men. Again, this is something that was obviously planned for a while, but the discussion between Cain and Xavier is something that fans will be overjoyed to see. Two brothers, torn apart by years of violence and hatred, finally getting the chance to put things right.

Does Cain join? Well, no, as yet ANOTHER major decision comes in with Nightcrawler's decision to step down as leader and take off for a while with Havok and Polaris.

ANOTHER plot point is in the nature of the relationship between Angel and Husk. Details? Well, I don't kiss and tell, or tell about OTHER people who are doing the kissing, but needless to say that the age gap I mentioned before has been picked up by others in this book. Iceman wins best line hands down when he tells Warren to remember that "sixteen'll get you twenty."


My only complaint story-wise is that the issue should have ended with Alex, Lorna, and Kurt taking off for a while. That would have been a nice breather between 'Dominant Species' and whatever Austen has planned next. Instead, he drops Alpha Flight in our laps on the last page. I'm not complaining, as I'm a huge fan of the series, not to mention a proud Canadian!

But why are they there? Guess we'll have to wait and see. Austen rarely disappoints, so I'll just be patient. I AM, however, quite angry that Austen has yet to email me and ask me for details on Canada or its people. GRR. (See, now THAT'S anger).

Chris Bachalo pops up as well to offer a VERY sleek and stylin' cover for the issue. Always a big fan of his work, I'm content to get as much as I can. Doesn't Juggernaut just look wicked?

Ron Garney does a great job in portraying the emotions through this issue, which is a tough chore given the amount Austen deals out for his characters to handle. For my taste, though, I found the art very cartoony, and a little basic at times. A few characters had sort of odd anatomy, and his backgrounds were few and far between. I suppose I just prefer a bit more grit and grime... a bit more realism in the faces and features of characters and the places they live in. Still, for his effort in facial expressions and details, I'll give it a clear thumbs up.

So, I assume that next issue we'll have a little more Alex and Lorna (as the pun-laden 'Rules of Engagement') seem to suggest, and then we're off for a two-part story dealing with Nigtcrawler. Then, the big wedding issue in Uncanny X-Men #425! Will Alex and Lorna tie the not, or will she be too wrapped up in her straight jacket to squeeze into a dress?

Be here to find out!

ART: 3/5
STORY: 4/5


Eric J. Moreels
X-Fan Editor-in-Chief

Brian E. Wilkinson
Editor, Head Reviewer


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