Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Colourists: Jason Keith and Morry Hollowell
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: The Phoenix Force has come to Earth, and possessed five of the X-Men. Magik, Namor, and Colossus were defeated by the combined forces of the Avengers, and their portions of the Phoenix’s power were transferred to Emma Frost and Cyclops, who now possess half of the cosmic firebird’s power each. The Avengers have opposed the Phoenix since it arrived, and have now discovered that the combined might of Hope Summers and the Scarlet Witch are able to damage its human hosts.
Cyclops has realised that in order to defeat the Avengers and their allies for the final time, he will require the entirety of the Phoenix’s power, and sets out to find Emma in order to enlist her in the battle. It looks like the Marvel Universe’s mutant power couple is going to have some therapy sessions in its future, if the pair of them survive the encounter.
It can’t be a coincidence that Kieron Gillen’s two Marvel titles both hit the stands on the same week. I think Marvel are out to destroy me. Whilst Uncanny X-Men has been a mixed bag since the Avengers Vs. X-Men crossover hit the book, this issue soars above the rest as probably the best tie-in to the event for this series. Set at the same time as Avengers Vs. X-Men #11, this issue looks at the battle between the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Phoenix-powered Emma Frost and Cyclops in a very different light, as well as closing down the plot between Colossus and Magik that has been running for years now.
The opening scene sets the tone for this book — we’re drawing close to the end of the crossover, and it’s time to set the stage for the last issues. Magneto confronts Cyclops and we get a scene that is a long time coming; it shows how far Cyclops has risen/fallen depending on your point of view, and firmly sets him up as the ‘bad guy’ of the series, even if it’s not quite his fault due to the corrupting influence of the Phoenix. Cyclops has skirted the line between hero and villain for a while now, but this scene cements him exactly where his character arc has been taking him, and it works nicely, especially by adding Magneto as a parallel — when Magneto is telling you you’re going too far, you know you’ve crossed a line (even if Cyclops doesn’t).
The next part of the book looks at Magik and Colossus, and Kieron Gillen deftly wraps up the relationship between the pair that has been going on for a long time now, ever since Magik became the Limbo-loving nutcase that she has been for a while. In a few pages, Gillen manages to tie together everything that has happened both to her character before he was writing her, and with Colossus since Gillen got hold of him back before the relaunch of this title. The motivations that Magik has are believable in their own twisted way, and go to make this another scene that is a long time coming, but surprising all the same.
The final scene is set during the final battle of Avengers Vs. X-Men #11, and sees it in a totally new light, with Emma Frost and Cyclops discussing what’s going on in an almost detached manner. This again works to show how the pair have been corrupted by the Phoenix Force, especially with how they treat their enemies without even considering their actions and the consequences that they’ll have. This scene puts a whole new spin on the main title, showing just how outmatched the Avengers and X-Men are, even when it looks like they’re winning.
Unfortunately, the art side of this issue isn’t quite as strong as the writing. Ron Garney’s work feels washed out and unpolished throughout. I’m not sure if this is due to the inking or the coloring, but it lessens the books quality as a whole. The art is serviceable, but could have been so much crisper.
The seesaw that is Uncanny X-Men during Avengers Vs. X-Men continues to rock, with this title climbing back up to excellence after falling a little with the conclusion of Mister Sinister’s story last issue. With two issues of the title remaining, it remains to be seen if this level can be maintained as we head into the final month of the crossover.
GO Rating: 4.5/5