Review: Uncanny X-Men #1

Cyclops gives the X-Men a new sense of purpose before Mr. Sinister causes trouble on an intergalactic scale.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

One of my few complaints about Wolverine and the X-Men #1 was that the art alternated between some truly impressive looking pages and some that were decidedly less so. But that's not a problem that Uncanny X-Men #1 has.

The artist, Carlos Pacheco delivers one of the best looking superhero comics this year. There's not a page in this issue where Pacheco isn't on top of his game. From the post card like opening sequence to the wide screen action late in the book, this is very impressive artwork from Pacheco, the inker Cam Smith and colorist Frank D'Armata.

Which brings us to the writer, Kieron Gillen. I hadn't been reading Uncanny X-Men for a while, so my first glimpse of Gillen's work on this franchise was in the X-Men: Regenesis one shot… which was not impressive, especially with the visual representation of Cyclops and Wolverine's conflict through the imagery of an extended cave man fight.

Gillen fares a little better here in a more conventional story. The basic gist of it is that with the mutant population no longer united, Cyclops has put together a special "Extinction Team" of the most powerful X-Men still on his side: Storm, White Queen, Magneto, Hope, Namor, Colossus, Magik and Danger. As noted in the script itself, Cyclops is dusting off the approach used in the Joss Whedon Astonishing X-Men run (and in other runs before it) in which his new strategy is to make the world realize that the X-Men are Earth's Mightiest Heroes. And he's perfectly okay with the idea of being feared for their power if it keeps his people alive. 

It quickly becomes clear that Cyclops is fully aware of what Wolverine is doing with his "little school" and that he still views the mutant defectors to be his responsibility. And it's not a bad plan. As long as the world is scared s***less by a team with Magneto and Namor on it, they aren't trying to wipe Westchester and Utopia off the map.

As a creative direction, it feels promising. However, Gillen does stumble a bit when it comes to the dialog. For example, take this line from early in the issue: "Let's play a game… Raise your hand if you've never gone through a stage that others characterized as 'mainly super villain.'"

Take a second to guess which character on the Extinction Team would naturally say that line.

I honestly don't know who would say that under any circumstance, but in this case it was Storm. It just struck me as an out of character moment, and it's not her only one like that. In terms of what she does, Storm is recognizable. But when she opens her mouth, she doesn't sound at all like the character that we're familiar with. Are we sure that the Secret Invasion is over?

And then there's Mr. Sinister, who practically narrates his own scenes while referring to himself in the third person. I can't say that he hasn't done that before, but it's very Silver Age of him.

Aside from the occasionally groan worthy lines, the rest of the issue is pretty solid. Sinister pokes around with the Dreaming Celestial in San Francisco (which I was sure that Marvel had forgotten about) and it sparks an Avengers level emergency… but the X-Men happen to be right there and Cyclops shows a little arrogance by claiming that if they can't handle the threat than neither would the Avengers.

In the battle that follows, Gillen gives every member of the team a part to play and even deals out a surprising injury to one of them in another great visual from Pacheco. The cliffhanger is a little iffy, but I'm intrigued enough to come back for the next issue. 

If I was judging this book by the art alone, it would be a 9 or a 9.5. However, I have to admit that I didn't enjoy it as much as Wolverine and the X-Men #1. Uncanny X-Men #1 is the more straightforward superhero book of the two core X-Men titles. But there's nothing wrong with that.

Crave Online Rating: 7.7/10