Uncanny X-Men #10
Story by Kieron Gillen, Art by Carlos Pacheco
I have said on many occasions that the X-Men monthly books have been in trouble for years. Thankfully that ‘soul searching’ period seems to be over if Gillen and Pacheco’s Uncanny X-Men is any indication. Scott’s Extinction team has united with the Avengers to round up loose ends from a SWORD prison break. When Hope is in danger, however, Scott orders his people out of a fight with Fing Fang Foom (leaving Captain America’s Avengers hanging).
Against the mega-powerful Unit (a left over from Gillen’s under-rated and sadly canceled SWORD series), Scott is completely unprepared. What’s more, he orders Ilyana to teleport Hope to safety and charges in without any intel from Agent Brand (head of SWORD). The result is catastrophic as Unit uses his immense power to turn the X-Men against themselves, ordering Magneto to launch Colossus into orbit, Storm to lose control of her weather manipulation abilities, Cyclops to shut his eyes and Emma Frost and Namor to make out… awkward.
Only when Danger arrives do things calm down, but Unit still seems to be in control. He and Hope both insist that he only wanted to talk, but now he is a prisoner once more, and he kindly asks that they contain him more securely. Brand asks a favor from Cyclops to hold Unit in the X-Men’s prison under Utopia in exchange for her silence on his running a death squad called X-Force. Unit is shown to hardly be a prisoner at all and not only does he have control over Danger but he also has an influence over Hope… and dangles information of the natrure of the Phoenix over her.
This issue was just awesome. The action was great always nice to see Pacheco in action) and the complexities of the team well utilized. Several entries in the letters column pointed out how the current team is so well formed and I must agree. Having a Cyttorak-powered Colossus, his sister Ilyana, Magneto and Namor all on the team makes them a power to be reckoned with (finally). Captain America points this out and it is clear that Scott’s tactics have improved greatly over the years, but Cap is saddened that it appears the X-Men’s loyalty is to their own first, the planet second… which of course will lead to some problems.
As the X-Men grows in popularity, possibly back to its former hey day sales figures, it is interesting to see the tonal shift into a superheroic team. This was attempted in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, but in my opinion that was far too much of a neck-breaking change. With the aid of Schism and years of Scott’s formation of the team into an army, it works much better.
Alongside Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, this is a great time for mutant books.
Avengers Vs. X-Men #2
Story by Jason Aaron, Art by John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna
The alien energy of destruction and rebirth, the Phoenix Force, is headed toward the Earth. Reformed and redirected, the Avengers are determined to intercept the arrival of the Phoenix but unfortunately, the X-Men see this as potentially a game-changer, granting them an equal footing in the super-powered realm. Captain America wants to respect Cyclops’ mutant compound on the sovereign nation of Utopia, but for the mutants who have been mistreated for so long, it doesn’t seem possible.
As Wolverine points out, Scott is too close to this as the Phoenix Force had bonded with his sometime departed wife Jean Grey. He also thinks of the current host, the young mutant Hope, as the mutant messiah. So… tempers are high and the explosions are big when Cap arrives to take Hope into custody and Cyclops receives this as a declaration of war.
Honestly, I’m at a loss for words on this one. A stunning action-filled blockbuster as the two teams go head to head and pull out all the stops. There are so many BIG moments, but for me the two images below speak the loudest.
Magneto utilizes a variation on the 'fastball special'
This series boasted to be the best thing in superhero comics since unstable molecules and it really does deliver.
Wolverine goes in for the mercy kill... and is stopped cold
In just the second issue, several beats are met as Wolverine not only makes his decision as to what side he is on, but also decides to kill Hope before she becomes bonded to the Phoenix force… but is far too late. It certainly shows that this series is the result of several top notch creators putting their heads together.
If this were a film, it would be worth the price of admission… however t it would be a roughly $52 attendance ticket and so far we’ve only gotten $12 worth, so we have a long way to go.