Uncanny X-men #1 + #2

Matt Mallinson
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Carrying on from the main Cyclops story in All New X-men, Uncanny sees Cyclops carrying on his revolution while setting up a new school. He’s gaining a big following among mutants and humans alike, spouting the slogan ‘Cyclops Was Right’. Meanwhile one of his trusted lieutenants is conspiring with SHIELD to take him down.

Uncanny X-Men #1

Issue 1

There isn’t really much traction to the first issue however. Cyclops and his team find a new mutant, who seems to have the power to make balls out of nothing, with the story being retold by the traitor in Cyclops’ mist. Then an army of sentinels show up and this is where the real action steps up. We only get to see Magik and Magneto kill one apiece before Cyclops takes the whole army out with a massive eye beam explosion. This gives the event a slightly anti-climatic finish.

An issue that arises (again) here is how poorly defined the effects of the Phoenix Force have been on the team. We know Emma has lost her telepathy and Magneto is significantly weakened. Cyclops’ powers however seem weak one minute and the next are able to take out a whole army in one blast. The traitor describes Cyclops’ powers as broken and out of his control, something which hasn’t been seen before. It might help if we had seen Cyclops’ unable to use his powers at some point. Furthermore his powers have never been in his control, the whole point of his visor being to provide him with a level of control.

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Chris Bachalo does a fantastic job on the artwork, bringing a manga style to the series’ action scenes, particularly in Magik’s massive sword. The new costumes (pictured) are a striking new look for the team. They do have the slightly unfortunate effect of making them look like super-villains however, with their mostly black colour scheme. For a series that seems to be about establishing that Cyclops’ isn’t the villain everyone else thinks he is, it’s a strange move to have him now dress like one. His outfit is the best of team, being visually similar to his previous costume but with a red and black colour scheme. His classic visor is replaced with one shaped like an X, a look I despised in images I had seen before, but it works well as drawn by Bachalo. The female costumes are a bit too skimpy for my liking, especially Emma Frost’s which doesn’t look remotely practical. It’s bizarre how she is wearing far more clothes than her usual bikini yet is showing more breast. I quite like Magneto’s outfit, even if the mostly white costume seems a bit strange. I believe it serves its purpose though, making him stand out while at the same time representing that he does not have much of a place in the X-men universe, with Cyclops basically having usurped him.

The identity of the traitor is well handled. Bachalo frames the panels in just the right way to obscure his face. However, the final reveal does still seem a bit obvious. To hinge the whole story on it is a risky gambit and due to this lame duck of a reveal the whole issue feels a little flat.

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Uncanny X-Men #2

Issue 2

With Cyclops’ new revolution just beginning, and Magneto acting as a SHIELD spy within the team; what’s Emma Frost’s place in all this? This issue attempts to answer that question, as well as generally explaining what the hell she is doing there.

“All those years I could read everybody’s thoughts. All those little insignificant thoughts and dirty secrets that dance in front of me. And I spent all that time shutting it out.”

Opening with Emma screaming in the snow just to make her life less quiet, this comic really establishes just how broken she feels now that she can no longer read minds. Throughout All New X-men she felt almost forgotten among Cyclops, Magneto and the new mutants. This is the first time we really get a sense of where she is at mentally. In fact, one of the very criticisms I have levelled against Bendis since he took over X-men is that he didn’t seem quite able to figure out what to do with her.

This issue disposes of all those doubts, stating why she’s there and her current feelings for Scott, proving that Bendis can write her just as well as anyone. Her conversation with Cyclops as they just decide to be totally frank with each other is fantastic, showing how much self-pity they both carry. While Emma doesn’t hate Scott for what happened back in AvX she also doesn’t love him anymore. Their relationship is over and while I wasn’t one of its (many) detractors, I don’t find myself too sad about their break-up. Their relationship has run its course and its end feels in no way forced.

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Chris Bachalo illustrates with an incredible depth, while still keeping his character models fairly simple. During the aforementioned Emma scenes he’s able to fully express her emotions. He makes interesting use of the captions so that they fit around his art rather than the other way around. While this issue features no action, he does still get to provide some exciting visuals. The scenes of Illyana teleporting for instance look fantastic. I still find the female costumes a bit too skimpy but think I’m getting used to them, although Illyana’s is a little much in some scenes. Is she really shocked the teenage boys are so excited to see her?

After these initial scenes the issue unfortunately loses focus a little, centering on the new students’ wishes to see their parents. While it’s easy to sympathise with the characters’ desires to see their families after being pulled away so suddenly, there isn’t much to this plot. For no real reason Cyclops decides this will be a great idea, only for Magneto to inform SHIELD of their location; bringing probably their worst nightmare down upon them. So I’d imagine anyone who found this issue too slow is in for a treat in the next.

Overall a great insight into one of my favourite X-men, a must read for any Emma Frost fans.

About Matt Mallinson

Matt is an aspiring journalist and self confessed nerd. In addition to comics, he has a great love of film, video games and TV, particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer.