UNCANNY X-MEN #11
The X-Men are dead. Long live the X-Men. As Cyclops makes his presence known in a bid to gain the attention of those who might rally to his cause, he makes himself a target for the undesirable elements opposed to mutants. But who should show up to have his back? Is it Captain America and the Avengers? Blindfold and the last surviving kids of Academy X? Madrox and Layla Miller? Callisto and Chamber? No, just one man, a lone wolf if ever there was one. And the only obvious choice to back him up when things get truly dire. But where they go from here is anyone’s guess. It’s time to get the band back together.
ONE FOR SORROW. This Is Forever: A bold title, reminiscent of Here Comes Tomorrow and in the same flavor as Days of Future Past, almost claiming a place alongside the glorious titles within the annals of mutant history. And it is a deserving boast I feel. Finally after the last ten issues we are heading down a definite path and things are falling into place. Though Disassembled was entertaining and thought provoking, it clearly polarised the fan base, some hated it and some loved it. But there’s no denying it got a reaction from everyone. In hindsight I am beginning to feel it could have been covered in half the number of issues, maybe even within an oversized Alpha issue, with THIS as the true kicking off point as first issue of Uncanny X-Men and still have the Age of X-Man story run alongside. Yes, you heard me. Still have Age of X-Man. If you are fed up of alt realities then maybe you’re missing the point. They encapsulate all that can go wrong when the X-Men fail in their role, so that story is needed too as a juxtaposition. And here we are now with both Cyclops and Wolverine finally side by side again. Doesn’t it feels like all is finally right with the world, like we’ve all been waiting for the other shoe to drop?
As for my initial thoughts going into reading…I’ll admit at first I was less enthused by the return of Wolverine in comparison to that of Cyclops. Let’s face it he’s been back a while. In contrast though Cyclops has had only two sightings before this, with the Extermination finale and the annual. Oh and the end of last issue of course. Wolverine on the other hand? Well you’d have to be living under a rock to not be aware of his goings on. But they’ve been hit and miss to say the least. First Legacy and Infinity Countdown, coupled with the Where’s Wolverine nonsense, which didn’t reveal much of anything. Hunt For Wolverine didn’t even include him at all. Then the recent Return of Wolverine, which as of this issue still isn’t even resolved, a typical error in judgement on the part of Marvel editorial. But in all of that we really aren’t any the wiser and it still doesn’t seem to even matter. But Cyclops has had a more thought out and reasoned return. And on the subject of returns, what a truly welcome one for Salvador Larroca. His art lends gritty realism to the sight of both Wolverine and Cyclops and their long awaited reunion. And a picture really does paint a thousand words as so little is said between them. It goes to show that when the chips are down there really isn’t anything these two need to say. They know where they stand with each other, always have. At the start of the story there is no time frame given, but the waitress assures us it’s been at least six months since Scott returned. And I have to say what we were all thinking. AGAIN with the red-head Cyclops? Thankfully her obvious flirting falls on deaf ears though. He has a mission and we all know that nothing can interrupt the mission. Cyclops is ever the man with a singular vision. It’s nice to see some things don’t change. Speaking of which I also had to notice the apparent uniform of the bigot includes a red baseball cap.
Hints of obvious bigotry aside there was a more satisfying shout out to good old Phil Sheldon of Marvels fame. And I had to laugh at Urich’s retort and his criticism of Sheldon. Something of a critique there on the series maybe? Seemed to be implying the art was the most impressive part of the series? If that one wasn’t a tongue in cheek reference then maybe the opening to the narrative was surely a comment on the fan criticism of the title of late. Has to be.
Though on this I have to paraphrase what Cyclops said in the annual here. He is wrong in this instance, every X-Men story is NOT the same. And as if to emphasise the point here we see there is a marked change in tempo and mood, drawing a definitive line between what has gone before and where we are now. Yes it all seems doom and gloom. Yes the extinction of a species seems imminent. And yes the X-Men are gone. But the world still has mutants, despite the best efforts of these who stand against them. First there is Madrox. And of course, if you want to search for missing mutants who better to ask than a detective? And Callisto and Chamber were perfect additions, hiding out together below ground with the rest of the leftovers. Yet more proof that despite the X-Men’s absence the race is still alive and kicking, just barely.
Just one thing though Jono, mate. I actually AM a Brit, a Londoner no less. And we wouldn’t say bollocks in that context, it’s just balls. It has to trip off the tongue with maximum effect, less is more. Curses have definitive place in any sentence structure. Also Jono once knew that cursing had more impact when it was used more sparingly. Sounds to me like he’s been watching too much Gordon Ramsay, punctuating every sentence with expletives. And then we have Reavers, Sapien League and Purifiers. Oh my!!I may just have to break out the swear jar myself. And as they all join up to whale on Cyclops “back where it all began” I had to wonder if that was his intent all along. First going to a mutant hate rally, then speaking up and basically inviting them all to come get him. Is he punishing himself somehow for his past decisions?
Speaking of the rally I had that old niggle in the back of my mind at the sight of Captain America there. Yes he is there to ensure no one else gets hurt and he is also right that Cyclops turning up isn’t exactly a good idea, this again hinting at Cyclops apparent need for self abasement. But I do still have a problem with Steve standing by and allowing it all. Even as he recognises the rally is wrong. Maybe he too should not have been there. His presence simply gave the rubber stamp to their belief in what they were doing. It wasn’t his intention of course, but that would be how they would twist it. Better to not be present and not validate that claim in the first place. I know that over in Captain America he is going through some issues himself regarding what he fights for, in a country that is now divided and in a role that has been called into question since Secret Empire. Given the lack of trust people have for him now, maybe he was right and he and Scott would do better to sit and chat over a coffee about their mutual similarities?
TWO FOR JOY. Wolverine Returns: And while there was some interesting discussion going on between Scott and Steve two we also had Nate and Logan face off. John McCrea and Mike Spicer do an admirable job here, making the surrounding fit naturally with the mood of Wolverine’s journey as it dovetails with both Cyclops and Blindfold. We can also discern by Cable’s comment “I can’t watch him any more. I have to go” that he is about to head off to his adventures in X-Force. If you’re reading that title it has been confirmed there that the X-Men disappearing has already happened. We even get at least a hint that Logan has dealt with Persephone and the ridiculous goings on over in Return of Wolverine. And we also see the stubborn streak he’s known for as he still can’t manage to admit he’s in the same boat as Cyclops.
At least there is one thing they both openly agree on, the Avengers at a hate rally….doing nothing. As already mentioned Cap is going through his own issues lately and this is kind of echoed here. Aside from Cyclops and he discussing their past interactions there is so much subtext here. Even as Natasha and Bucky catch up with Logan at the same time as Scott meets Steve. In her musings it seems Widow is thinking of her own return and need to stay below radar. And the parallel Logan draws between Cap and Cyke is all knowing and funny at the same time.
And to finally see Ruth was a godsend. Finally we find out why she wasn’t included in Disassembled all along. I had been hoping as Legion was involved that she may have been the voice of reason to talk him down, or at least give a mitigating explanation as to what he was doing and legitimise the whole thing. Seems that this was the whole reason she WASN’T involved in the first place. I have a feeling we can all rest easy and that there was a plan with the plotting all along and this was it. And as with Ruth we can also now see why Jamie ducked out of the previous battle. It’s all setting up his presence here, same as Sam being taken out of the fight in order for him to be able to show up in X-Force. And yet more long lost and missed characters with the return of Layla, finally rewarded for her past pain with a home, her son Davey and the man she loves by her side. In all of the desperate situations faced by the leftover mutants there is at least some comfort for someone. And it’s nice to see her keeping Jamie grounded.
THREE FOR A GIRL. The Last Blindfold Story: Poor Alani and Gabriel. And then finally also poor Ruth. So tragic, all three of them. Loa mindlessly killed, Velocidad rapidly ageing in the shadows and Blindfold taking her own life due to the futility of seeing all those futures without any chance of survival for herself. What DO you do when every future sees you die in so many horrific ways? And as cold and unforgiving as her time was in the sewers, Juanan Ramírez managed to give some pathos and poetic closure to the tragic fate of Ruth, even some warmth and comfort in her final days.
This whole issue has so much going for it, with art that delivers a memorable return of two mainstay X-Men, the lettering of Joe Caramagna keeping it all tied together without tangling the narrative too much, also adding value for money with snikts and zarks that make you feel right at home. And Matthew Rosenberg delivers a poignant yet heart rending story with the fate of Ruth and her friends. He also makes great use of repeated dialogue throughout, ensuring it fits perfectly and doesn’t make it seem like it’s all just being repeated, as well as giving valuable insight in the mad reverse conversation, showing us how poor Ruth perceives her world in a complete patchwork way. Even as her whole life literally goes down the drain.It’s amazing it could all be contained and gel so well in the three separate stories. But they all go together like cogs in a machine, working in perfect harmony. And to have the bookend stories both colored by Rachelle ties up the mood perfectly. And she gives both Salvador Larroca and Juanan Ramírez her best, giving both tales a true organic feel. From the mean, unwelcoming streets Salvador gives us and also the subterranean underground, as Juanan shows the depths the lost and hidden mutants have sunk to and the place they inhabit, everything is laid out in stark and unapologetic ways to highlight the plight of the mutant race. Within the narrative of the first two stories alone there is a perfect analogy for these two iconic characters. They approach the same problem from different angles but always seem to arrive at the same conclusion, even if they don’t always agree on what to do about it. This whole issue for me seemed almost to make up for Schism in it’s entirety. All topped off by an iconic cover by Salvador Larroca & Rachelle Rosenberg, giving us an image of Scott Summers sifting through the ashes with images of the past glory years and the team from one of it’s high points hanging over him.All that we are now missing from the saga is that other returned X-Man who started all of this. But he was VERY conspicuous by his absence. What IS he doing? In fact what has he been doing all along, ever since his return in Astonishing X-Men? Whatever the answer I feel that now we have Brisson over on X-Force, Thompson and Nadler on Age of X-Man and Rosenberg in full control of Uncanny X-Men, they each have between them some true focus and control of where the whole X-franchise is going. And I also feel sure if Xavier IS going to be involved anytime soon they already know where and how.
A well oiled machine that delivers hope despite the hopelessness, the peril of a species and the very real pathos and tragedy of one poor individual who has seen too much. All in the same journey. I trust the vehicle itself and believe in the journey we are on. Maybe with the return of the two stalwart and trustworthy torch bearers of the dream things can get back on track. With Logan at the wheel and Cyclops in charge of the map. Drive on guys, let’s see where this takes us.
Uncanny X-Men #11: Would the Real Slim Summers Please Stand Up
- Writing - 10/1010/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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