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Buck up, you melancholy Dane: Graeme gets with the Emperor from 9/12

Graeme McMillan

Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching “Slings and Arrows” on DVD recently – it being a Canadian drama about a Shakespearean drama festival and actors with issues and everything that comes along with that – but I feel as if X-MEN: EMPEROR VULCAN #1 has more than the usual (for comics) sense of The Bard in it.

It’s in the expositionary scenes, I think. This book actually does that kind of thing relatively well; although I almost entirely missed the Ed Brubaker Uncanny run that set up this mini, I didn’t feel lost at all while reading this latest version of Space Opera that seems to be hitting both Marvel (Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest) and DC (Sinestro Corps) lately (Is it just me, or does this latest round of space tales seem to owe a lot to Star Wars, and specifically, the last three movies instead of the original trilogy? The scenes of big action and adventure seem to be continually punctuated by scenes of people standing around in circles, talking about some kind of political decisioning, even if it’s the Guardians talking about rewriting the Book of Oa. Has George Lucas ruined everything for all of us again?). Part of the reason that I felt as if I could understand everything that was happening was because of the way in which writer Chris Yost uses his characters to tell you everything you need to know in these melodramatic scenes that play on the over-the-top epic nature of the set-up (Brothers set against each other for the kingdom of a powerful empire!); my favorite being the lovers-meeting-in-secret scene, with Vulcan under a hood while his wife does a Lady MacBeth.

None of this is to suggest that this is a dry or old-fashioned book; Yost also brings a particular humor to proceedings that lightens up the slower, more plodding scenes – I’m particular amused by his take on Lorna, for some reason – and there’re the prerequisite scenes of explosions that honestly feel kind of unnecessary. In addition, Paco Diaz’s art is solidly 2003 in its look and execution – good enough, but unspectacular – and the whole book feels entirely, surprisingly, Good if inessential.

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