UNCANNY X-MEN #19 (LGY #641)
The plotter behind the scenes is finally revealed and we discover not only who sent Wolverine to join Cyclops when he returned, but also who manipulated Anole to hand the Cure over and also who really has been collecting the mutants the X-Men have been capturing for ‘Captain America’. In a story that touches down on several key events of the last few months it’s clear one name is behind it all. Even while subjugated to the will of General Callahan Emma Frost has held true to her Machiavellian ways. Neither as a villain or hero but something in between, to save the remains of mutantkind in the only way she can.
Writing: Right from the start, we see the viewpoint and commentary have changed from Cyclops to Emma. And much like her recent appearances in X-Men: Black, Iceman and even Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter she is shown to be working for the betterment of others, despite the aloof attitude and trappings of success. And there is some satisfaction in seeing she hasn’t slipped back to being a one dimensional villain. She is clearly disturbed when she learns the way the New Mutants have been slaved to Sentinel tech and even under the boot heel of Callahan does not readily succumb to his will, which is just like her.
In fact even when she does relent it’s with measured pragmatism, bitterly allowing Anole to become part of it, but playing the long game and waiting for freedom to act more decisively. So much filling in of gaps in the story that makes me excited again at the way it is all finally coming together. Ready for the final couple of issues to go for it and resolve all that has been going on, even if it is all going to change. Again. I have for the last couple of issues (since Rahne I suppose) been wondering what the heck has been going on, and like many others have felt it drifting a tad and made people question Rosenberg. But with the return of Emma this has felt like the other shoe has finally dropped and things are taking shape, much like they did when Cyclops took the reins in Uncanny X-Men #11.
Art: The new all leather look on Hellfire Club 2.0 is tops. Not only her but Vanisher making a clear statement that this Hellfire Club is not the same as that of Sebastian Shaw. This seems to be a way of updating that I’m sure Emma has done not simply to irk Shaw, but also as a conscious effort to drag the HC into the 21st Century and make it her own. And the art does a wonderful job of showing the narrative and visuals of her in the state to which she has become accustomed, but also follows with her in several different environments, be it a bar, parking garage, prison or street level.
Even there the attention to details such as perspective do a great job of drawing the eye to the focus of the action. Also I noticed the little linking image as Wolverine gets a bottle to the head, and it segues into Emma later dropping a bottle of milk as Callahan interrupts her at home. I have to say that I warmed more to the art this issue. It had a little more going on than in the previous issues. Granted there was a lot of talent on hand to convey the story, but it just shows more depth and scope, with the street scene and depiction of actual bystanders and details like a skyline outside Emma’s apartment window. In fact the whole issue had more relatable backgrounds and not just focussing on the action and characters doing the talking.
Characters: And say what you want about any off characterization of some of the players in this arc, but Emma is written perfectly here, even in physical strength alone. On several occasions, she has in the past shown highly increased physical strength and resilience in diamond form. Being sent flying through a wall by Bishop’s energy blast hardly gave her pause for thought and she’s been shown ripping car doors off like wings off a fly. And it’s even stated in the handbooks she can lift two tons. So for the sheer physical power shown here, showing Emma is quite easily able to go toe to toe with Strong Guy and deliver a resounding roundhouse that knocks him off his feet, is not out of the blue. It’s not often that this side of her diamond form is explored so I enjoyed the ‘shining moment’.
Her personality is also spot on, from the sheer disdain for those who try to undermine mutants and destroy them, to her reiteration of her love for Scott, contrasted with the struggle to keep herself hidden from him knowing he would put himself at risk if he knew. Though it seems apparent now that she was the reason the Cure fell into the wrong hands, this is something that is surely against her own ethics but has little choice as Callahan holds a metaphorical gun to her head. But she is also clearly planning his downfall.
And the re-introduction of Vanisher, Elixir and Marrow was rewarding. Especially knowing that we last saw two of them as part of Magneto’s new Brotherhood. So she has clearly been busy recruiting while he is away. Although the return of Vanisher from the dead just to kill him again in one issue, should we be shocked any more? Not really. It was very satisfying to see that Emma manages to explain just why she has played things this way, in a scene that gives us answers even if there are none for her paramour. And it was both bittersweet and yet somehow satisfying in terms of closure. We at least have at least an answer as to what she intends and realises the door is closed for her as regards Scott.
And so finally we round out the issue, bringing us screaming into the present in terms of plot as well as Emma’s place in things and who it was sent Wolverine to join Cyclops in the first place. And now with Wolverine clearly having his mind reset by Emma, this means there is some explanation as to why he quit the X-Men and went off into the shadows with Kwannon. They were hunting Emma and sniffing out what she’s been up to. With a delightfully wicked and elusive cover by Whilce Portacio & Erick Arciniega that gives the feel if not the form of the story within, and a truly wonderfully nostalgic variant by Phil Noto, that celebrates the Marvels 25th anniversary event, this was a payoff I didn’t even realise I’ve been waiting for.
Things are finally falling into place. And although my hopes of Rahne’s death being faked are looking less likely, this is still rounding out to a solid finale.
Uncanny X-Men #19: What Would Emma Do?
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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