Thursday, 18 April 2013

Review: Uncanny X-Men #4

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Arriving at the doors of the Jean Grey School in Westchester, rebel leader Cyclops goes on a recruitment drive! Declaring "to me, my X-Men", the former Headmaster certainly has guts. But not for much longer if Wolverine has his way.

The divide between Cyclops and Wolverine has been the driving force of X-Men comics for the past three years. Ever since the "Schism" event led to half the team choosing to stay with Scott on the Mutant isle of Utopia and half choosing to leave with Logan, aspiring to restart the School in keeping with Professor Xavier's dream. There is a fundamental divide, straight down the middle of the Mutant community, neither side entirely sure of how best to proceed in a world that hates them. But where Wolverine preaches peaceful co-existence (yes, I know how ludicrous that sounds), Cyclops sees the reality of the world around him and wants Mutants to be a force to be reckoned with. If Humanity won't leave his people alone to live in peace, he'll fight them tooth and nail for every second of freedom. Not unlike the Magneto of old. Only younger, dashing, not ranting like a mad man and definitely not leading a team of self-proclaimed EVIL Mutants (yeah, dumb move there Erik).

Whereas the biased opinions featured in sister-series "All-New X-Men" would have you believe Cyclops to be a radical lunatic looking to incite full-blown war and Mutant Genocide ( exactly would that benefit him again?), "Uncanny X-Men" tends to feature the man himself and as such, a far more reasonable, grounded representation of the racial icon. The sad thing is, the worst insults come from people who used to call him a friend mere months ago. Honestly, you kill one mentor under the influence of a cosmic-being and suddenly you're a different person. Under those rules, half the Marvel Universe shouldn't be speaking to each other! Any scenes featuring Kitty, Storm, Wolverine or Beast are borderline insufferable with their inability to hold an adult conversation with a long-time friend like Scott. They'll teach forgiveness of Humanity to their pupils, just not forgiveness of their friends and colleagues. Real mature, guys.

Thankfully, the Cyclops character assassination takes a backseat, as Bendis examines the same scene that ended "All-New X-Men", only from the on-looking perspective of the Stepford Cuckoos (and Emma Frost, when she can get her powers to work). You see the same actions as before, taking place in the background, but this time with the true focus on the borderline torture of Frost at the hands of her former students. The Cuckoos are not happy to see their mentor again and aren't shy about showing it. Quickly realising that Emma's powers have been "broken" in the wake of the Phoenix disaster, the person that the Cuckoos once feared most, becomes little more than frightened prey, toyed with by a superior predator. Honestly, by the time the issue closes, you get the sense the Cuckoos have joined up with Scott's Uncanny team not out of any ingrained loyalty, but simply to mess with Emma some more.

With a book called "All-New X-Men" on the stands, it's ironically "Uncanny X-Men" that features the greatest wealth of new Mutant characters. While the adults are off having a pissing contest with their former friends, Scott's new recruits are making themselves at home in the former Weapon X facility turned Xavier School. It's only now dawning on them that this is their life and it's not simply a matter of "going home". Thankfully, Bendis doesn't wallow in the angst of their new situation, but instead has fun with it. As questionable as the leaders have become, these children are 100% goofballs and very quickly find themselves getting into japes in the Danger Room. Not to mention, something as simple as picking which room to sleep in.

An unfortunate side effect of Marvel's scheduling means that this issue of "Uncanny" unintentionally spoils the big reveal of which original X-Man joined the team in the wake of last week's "All-New" cliffhanger. I'm sure the consequences of this character's "defection" will be touched upon ad infinitum, but as far as shock and awe is concerned, the cat is out of the bag. The man of the hour is none other than Warren Worthington III aka Angel. After his failed attempt to bolt back to his own time (even if he can't remember it), it's really no surprise that he wants nothing more to do with the Jean Grey School. If he can't get home, getting away from those do-gooding nutjobs is the next best thing! As evidenced by the issue of "All-New" in question, these time-displaced original X-Men are beginning to ask the right questions, ones that are making the teachers at Wolverine's school all the more uncomfortable as they struggle to justify their own lies. Say what you want about Cyclops, the man is telling the truth.

8 out of 10

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