Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils/Colors: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Mark Irwin, Victor Olazba
Letters: Joe Caramagna
“Like you aren’t dying to hit me.” “You’re Scott Summers. Everyone is dying to hit you.”
Looking for a standalone X-Men story? A jumping on point? This is it. Uncanny X-Men 14 focuses on one of the newest mutants in Scott Summers mutant revolution. If you haven’t been reading X-Men, don’t worry because this issue doesn’t rely on you knowing anything about current continuity, but for those that have, it provides an interesting behind the scenes view on what it’s like to be a mutant now.
The story is about Benjamin Deeds, a recent mutant who has the useless power of looking mostly like the person he’s next to. He doesn’t gain their knowledge, or abilities, and he doesn’t control who he can be. He has no fighting skill, and he was drafted/rescued into the secret mutant revolution side of Schism instead of the public Jean Grey School for New Mutants. This may be a good thing as the Jean Grey school is attacked every 5 seconds, but it’s also a bad thing as Scott Summer’s runs his “school” like a boot camp. Ben gets picked on by Scott for not stepping up in his combat training, and Emma Frost, of all people, steps in and takes over his personal training.
Emma Frost has been training mutants for a long time, and her methods tend to be creative and cruel, much like Emma. For example, she waits for him in his room and he walks in from the shower wearing only a towel, which promptly falls off. Emma acts like it’s normal and makes the devil’s bargain while he clutches his towel to hide behind. His powers kick in and he changes into a Emma double, but at his height, not hers, and just as naked. Not much of a power right? He does take the opportunity to look behind his own towel to see what Frost looks like when she turns her head. So not a totally useless ability.
Frost seems out to prove herself, that she can train someone that Scott can’t. She figures out uses for his powers that no one thought of, and ways to test it out. It turns out he can partially change, so he looks slightly like someone, and that is perfect for befriending them. Before long, she’s tricked him into infiltrating SHIELD. They return with a new asset, and Scott’s impressed. We as readers get to see what it’s like for an ordinary person to deal with Scott, Emma, and Majik in a very amusing caper.
Bendis has been phenomenal on his X-Men run and it’s become my favorite work of his. This isue is a perfect example of why. Perfect blend of plot, character, humor, and tension. Chris Bachalo’s art is hit and miss with me. There times I love his crazy expressiveness and over the top efx, and times I don’t – but in this issue he shines brightly by stepping outside of his box to do a non efx/low action story that requires subtle differences in characters and expressions. The mutant Deeds has too look almost like someone, and everyone has to look different. The thrust of the story is facial expressions and acting. Tough stuff to do and Chris nails it. I also love his muted color pallete – perfect for setting tone, mood, and setting. He also draws my favorite Cyclops.