Writer: Kieron Gillen
Art and Colours: Daniel Acuna
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: Mister Sinister has provoked the Phoenix Five into taking action against him. Having created a civilization comprised entirely of Sinister Clones, he soon finds the cosmically powered X-Men on his doorstep and prepares to rebuke them with everything at his disposal. His true purpose however, is to capture their Phoenix energy for his own twisted deeds.
Back on Utopia, Magneto, Psylocke, Storm and Danger are feeling useless. With their team mates now more powerful than the four of them combined, their role as X-Men is being called into question. Never ones to let events take place without them, their next course of action now needs to be decided.
Ack. That’s a word to describe this issue. It’s the sound you make when you walk through a door, feeling free, and then realise you’ve caught your belt loop on the door handle, and you end up being pulled backwards. That’s the feeling that this issue of Uncanny X-Men has. After the last two issues seemed to have freed the plot from the pull of Avengers Vs. X-Men, this issue makes you realise that everything is still firmly entrenched there.
Kieron Gillen’s post-relaunch, pre-Avengers Vs. X-Men run on Uncanny X-Men was plagued with the same problem: each arc set up a great villain or problem to solve, but when the dust settled, nothing had changed. Every one of the main players in the story went back to their bases, exactly the same as they were before. I feel this is the problem that the event syndrome that Marvel has fallen into has perpetuated nowadays, and despite Gillen’s best efforts (for example, fleshing out background characters like Colossus and Danger instead of the main players), it does present a difficulty for emotional investment in storylines—how can I care about what happens to, say, Cyclops, when I know he’s fine in a later issue?
Although this is a problem, some parts of this issue do shine through. Gillen moves some of the less Avengers Vs. X-Men centric characters like Magneto and Psylocke into a position to take the spotlight next issue, which gives me hope for a good conclusion to this arc overall, and he has Mister Sinister acting suitably insane, with some superb genetic manipulations of X-Men and even random livestock as weapons against the Phoenix Five. The issue did make me chuckle in a fair few places, but when it’s obvious from the get-go that Sinister’s plan has no hope of doing any damage at all (though I’m fully prepared to eat my hat if it does), it takes the impact out of the proceedings.
Daniel Acuna is really let loose in this issue, with double page spreads and long panels that allow him to really dig into his repertoire of talent to produce some fine work. His depictions of Sinister’s weaponry is beautiful, and even the lack of detail in the background elements which I’ve always noticed him for before is largely absent in this issue.
To recap, I can see that Kieron Gillen is trying his best with this issue. He is taking what he can use and doing the best he can with it, but the shackles of Avengers Vs. X-Men are dragging the quality of this series back down. Whilst I’m hopeful that the final issue of this arc will have a few surprises in store, given that all of the Phoenix Five are fine in Avengers Vs. X-Men #8, I can’t see there being much. It’s a shame that we’ve been feeling the effects of the crossover for so long, even before it started.
GO Rating: 3/5