UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #1
The revelation of the conclusion to Extermination finally has a definitive answer and we learn just how Cable brought his father back from the grave. And what he plans to do with his new lease of life.
Story: From the initial sight of Cyclops optic blast shooting out from the grave you would have to be a severely jaded individual not to have your little fanboy heart skip a beat at least just once. But of course questions had to be asked. And even if the story itself was more than a little convoluted in it’s overall scope, the opening sequence alone sold me on it.
And so the story then becomes a treatise in dissecting the elements that enabled this turn of events, which Ed Brisson does with flair and aplomb. At first I was a little overawed by the utilisation of not one, not even three but FIVE major events in recent Marvel history. AvX, Death of X, Phoenix Resurrection, Extermination and naturally the latest instalment of the return of the Uncanny X-Men. And they even squeezed in IvX as well, but let’s not go there.
Yes indeed, let’s. The retelling of all of those events was staggering in it’s scope and determination and yes it teetered dangerously close to trying too hard. But so much work went into tying in all of those pivotal events and making them gel organically with the story set out here that it made for an intriguing entry into the hall of resurrections. Even adding in the Phoenix Cage as a plot device. I almost managed to suspend disbelief enough to ignore that obvious McGuffin of it all. Almost, but not quite. However I for one am more than pleased to have our Fearless Leader back so am prepared to overlook it and even nod a little at the genius of it and could almost feel it was part of the design all along.
Art: The cover gave a great look at all of the more iconic and character defining moments of Scott Summers, with the throwback of all his more memorable outfits. And it’s a true gift to see the work of Salvador Larroca once again gracing the cover of an X-Men title, for me a treat having loved him since his time on Marvel UK titles of the 90’s. Some bold and interesting choices here with Carlos Gomez internal art too. Also managing to cram in several costume changes for our returned hero. Which was the least of it. It’s never easy to add a flashback into the narrative and make it fit organically into the story. Carlos did it repeatedly here, taking some already iconic and well recognised scenes and making them his own. The most obvious being the return of Jean Grey.
But even in the retro look at the origin of the life debt incurred by Paul Douek and the natural fit of the feel of the time was a hard thing to pull off, with some neutral coloring from Guru-eFX, a total contrast to the bold colors of the rest of the story. Let’s remember here that Marvel’s sliding timescale makes historical context notoriously tricky to make a good fit. Ed Piskor is proof of this, having to take liberties with known lore to fit everything into his retelling of the past. So it is no small feat that Carlos manages to show a younger Cyclops in the 60’s style setting and outfit, while giving it a 90’s feel and make it seem right, then seamlessly drag us into the present.And then within the confines of the present we have some beautifully touching scenes with Cyclops debating ethics with young Cable and seeing him later, on the beach lamenting the loss of the X-Men and his determination to make things right. This is all the more fitting for the backdrop.
Characters: It is no coincidence that both young Cable and Paul are the only ones to bear witness to the return of Cyclops. It is through their eyes we see each point of this story. In Nate’s determination to fix things and especially in the scene of them standing over his grave after witnessing the X-Men deliver his eulogy, it highlights specifically the defining characteristics of Cyclops and what makes him so vital to the X-Men.In a cruel twist of fate we also see Bable contradicting his own work ethic here, as he condemns his older self to death for his inability to correct errors in time, something he himself is now technically actively perpetrating, even as they share a Dad Rootbeer together.And it’s reassuring to me personally that Scott at least addresses his concerns about Bable killing Cable and reminds everyone that he at least sees it as a loss. It isn’t just a minor correction of a flaw in the timestream and Cyclops recognises this, despite Bable’s slightly twisted logic.And let’s lightly touch on the fact that the first person he wants to see is Jean and not Emma, a declaration made after changing outfits in a rather telling way. I for one will not be pleased if they rush into each others arms and rush back into that relationship. Not because I don’t think they belong together, but because they both run the risk of being defined only by their relationship and this time should be used to define their characters apart. Let’s not rush that.Despite the obvious backlash this will clearly create with some, it is really only the obvious choice. Be it Boy Scout or Revolutionary, regardless of who he loves she is the one who is the authority on resurrection. Also he is clearly aware she is in imminent peril, as Bable makes him choose between the X-Men and the man who brought him back. I had a slight quandary as to whether this implied he orchestrated the events in Uncanny, but I think it just means he took advantage of his knowledge of events to test Cyclops.
Also as Cyclops witnesses the aftermath of the fall of his family on a beach and the repercussions of his decision, he reflects on all of his life’s most prominent failures having taken place in similar surroundings. If not for the huge undertaking already utilised in tying all of the many narratives together in this rich, if convoluted tapestry, I would have to say this last scene alone made for some truly poignant storytelling as Scott draws a line in the sand. We are seeing a return to the default setting for him here.
We all know that in future online post mortem discussion of this return, the go to snidely joking comment will be “because…comics”. But seriously, when HASN’T a return from the grave demanded a little sideways glancing and head scratching tomfoolery? As resurrections go, this one actually felt more relatable. With serious soul searching and analysing of motivation the final goal was achieved successfully as all the white noise of evidence finally beat me into submission. At least it’s not a Space Stone.
Putting aside the McGuffin Cage and Bables blurred lines of logic and motivation, I have to say this is the turning point of the Uncanny X-Men right here. Everything else was preamble and now that Slim is back we have some definitive direction coming our way. Welcome back Summers, we’ve missed you.
Uncanny X-Men Annual #1: Life’s a Beach And Then You Live… Again!
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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