Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art and Colours: Daniel Acuna
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: After Iron Man attacked the Phoenix Force with his newest suit of armour, the cosmic firebird was split into five parts and took up residence in the bodies of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus, and Magik. The Phoenix Five have since taken saving the world into their own hands, reshaping deserts and giving water to regions without any. Their homebase, the island of Utopia, now floats in the sky surrounded by new structures as Pax Utopia.
The Avengers are resisting the Phoenix Five in their own way, and so is Mister Sinister. Having created an entire Sinister London deep underground, populated with perfect clones of himself and Cyclops’ old flame Madelyne Pryor, he now sits in waiting for the Five, since it can only be a matter of time before they find him.
Uncanny X-Men #14 was a great indicator of things to come in this series, now that we’ve moved away from the “fight everything in sight for no reason” half of Avengers Vs. X-Men, and this first issue of the current arc is far better than the earlier tie-ins by far. The issue is broken into a few different scenes that check in on some of the characters we’ve seen already, as well as revisiting some plot points from before the crossover event in order to show the reader that they haven’t been forgotten at all.
As mentioned in some of my other tie-in issue reviews, there are fractures appearing in the X-Men camp as the Phoenix Five’s heavy handed approach to what is basically world domination begins to show their fellow X-Men that something is amiss. This issue exacerbates that, with powerhouses like Storm and Magneto being openly forgotten about, since the Five don’t feel the need to include them anymore. Add in the fact that Cyclops basically decides to go kill Mister Sinister, and it’s clear that some X-Men will be jumping ship sometime soon.
Gillen also takes the time out to answer whether or not Colossus still possesses the powers of the Juggernaut now that he has the cosmic energy of the Phoenix at his command. The scene plays out quite well, further implying that magic is the only thing that will be able to stop the flaming menace, and still feels heartfelt as Colossus realises what the future will hold for him. There’s also a little more development with the Danger/UNIT subplot, which is quite funny to watch unfold, and even Kate Kildare gets a page to herself to show the effects that the X-Men are now having on the world.
Daniel Acuna’s painted style makes up the visual side of this arc, and whilst it may lack detail in wider shots, it is beautiful in more close ones. He is famed for forgetting people’s faces in the backgrounds of some panels, and this is no exception here, but his sweeping views of Pax Utopia are breathtaking, and the personal shots of things like Psylocke and Magneto sharing a confused glance are fantastic. Sinister London looks wonderful under his brush, with the realm of Cyttorak being hands down the best scene in the book due to the artwork.
A promising start to the next arc of Uncanny X-Men, aided by the fact that it isn’t bogged down by the crossover but rather embraces it in order to tell a much more interesting story. With the Phoenix Five now on Sinister’s doorstep, you just know that the next few issues are going to be explosive, and I’m once again glad I’m aboard the Uncanny X-Men train for the ride.
GO Rating: 4.5/5