Pick of the Week

October 6, 2004 – Uncanny X-Men #450

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Size: pages

Story by Chris Claremont
Art by Alan Davis
Inks by Mark Farmer
Colors by Frank D’armata
Letters by Rus Wooton

Published by Marvel Comics | $2.25

A very light week for me, with Wolverine either directly in or directly referenced in every book I bought. Since the multiple appearances made it feel like 13 years ago, I decided to go with a nostalgia pick. The past few years, it’s safe to say that the writers have dominated these Picks. Folks like Brian Michael Bendis and Brian K. Vaughan have been heralded by our picks for the amazement and awe at their words. But this week, I’m pushing words aside and focusing on art. Specifically the art of Alan Davis and Mark Farmer in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #450.

Alan Davis has long been a favorite of mine, mainly because he was the first penciller whose name stuck out at me when I started reading comics and before I was brainwashed by the Jim Lee/Rob Liefeld days. His graceful pencils on Excalibur defined for me what a comic book looked like. Once he moved off of Excalibur, it became very rare for me to find anything he did. I’m sure he was working, but just not on anything I was reading. He ultimately resurfaced in the late 90s at DC Comics doing JLA: The Nail, which I think we all can agree was fantastic. After that, he did finally return to the pages of X-books, but I remember feeling let down. I don’t know if it was because his pencils weren’t good, or maybe he didn’t have Mark Farmer inking him (which I realize is a huge part of the quality of his output), but it was bittersweet. That’s why I was a little concerned when I found out he was the regular penciller on Uncanny X-Men as of the latest reboot. And it wasn’t until this issue that I was reminded completely of how much I love the combined talents of Alan Davis and Mark Farmer.

From the layouts to facial expressions, Davis simply makes the action flow from panel to panel, from page to page. If you ask me what the definitive Nightcrawler looks like, I won’t show you John Byrne’s Nightcrawler, I’ll turn to the first 5 pages of this book to show you what the dramatic, swash-buckling Nightcrawler is meant to look like. I simply can’t rave enough about this art.

It’s a good thing the art is amazing, because who knows what the heck Claremont is writing these days. But that’s for another discussion. For this week, I’m just turning each page slowly and drinking in the often underrated of late aspect of this medium.

Ron Richards
Yearns for the glory days.

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