Let’s get into Uncanny X-Men #27 — an issue that sees the ship righting itself with a brisker pace. We have some development, Cyclops finally stands up for himself and proves he’s the man, and Matthew Malloy waves his hands around and destroys things without so much as a grunt.
With S.H.I.E.L.D. monitoring the situation very closely — they’ve already lost a squadron — the X-Men are left to talk strategy. Time is of the essence since Malloy’s coming into his own with his unbridled power set at each passing moment.
Rachel Grey goes for shock and awe by creating an illusion — the Avengers and X-Men ready to attack — to make Malloy stand down, but the plan accomplishes the opposite when Matthew questions the notion he should be neutered of his powers. Quickly dismantling the helicarrier, he sends the various X-Men aboard the ship home in a wink.
Rachel and Storm are accounted for back at the Jean Grey School, and Cyclops lands back at Weapon X with no sign of Wolverine anywhere. It’s clear that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg for Malloy’s abilities, and if anyone’s going to know what to do in a pinch, it’s Scott Summers.
What’s obvious now that wasn’t plain to see in previous issues is the parallel being drawn between Cyclops and Malloy. As one of the Phoenix Five, Cyclops was possessed with unimaginable power. And though a utopia was created with that power, the Five couldn’t survive against infighting, the Avengers, and kung-fu. The Five were branded fugitives after AvX, and Cyclops was held in contempt for killing Professor Charles Xavier.
Now that another mutant has appeared — a powerful one with a trail of bodies in his wake — Cyclops can’t help but feel a sense of deja vu. Those frightened voices calling for Matthew’s quick death are the same sort of angry mob wielding pitchforks that tried to put Cyclops and his crew down when all they did was rid the world of hunger and disease.
So when it comes to finding a solution for the situation, it’s up to the one who can relate the most to do what no one else has even dared to try: Meet Malloy halfway.
Time will tell if Cyclops is right, and this might actually lead to more conflict now that the most terrifying mutant on the planet is about to join forces with the most hated one. Either way, I for one am glad to see the story moving forward on the strength of its characters doing what they should be doing. We’re well past the X-Men and Avengers beating the dead horse of the past, and we’re finally marching on with Cyclops leading again.
I like that Summers is independent, and he’s at his best when he’s making world-class decisions, right or wrong. It’s not about whether Cyclops is right anymore — it’s about whether he’s still the best man for the job. The past few issues have seen him become the target of character assassinations by characters whose arguments haven’t developed past an emotional response to what happened a couple of years ago.
And if anything, that proves Cyclops’ team has become the definitive form of the X-Men. Misunderstood, hated, unwanted — those are the hallmark attributes of Marvel’s most uncanny team. And in the face of fear and prejudice, Cyclops has become multi-dimensional in his character. No longer just the boy scout or the physical embodiment of Xavier’s dream, Cyclops has touched the dark side, lived to tell the tale, and became the world’s biggest whipping boy in the process. For all the reasons why I’m drawn t0 the X-Men comics, it’s because I can relate to those personal struggles.
And though I would rather both sides have compelling arguments against each other, seeing Cyclops “get it” while the rest of the X-Men flail along gives me plenty of satisfaction. A big round of kudos goes to Bendis for an issue that hits potential paydirt. I’m not going to call this arc a true success until I see some huge plot points get mined, but issues like these show what Bendis can really do when he hits those notes — things he does well often enough. My concern still remains on whether we get the payoffs we’re hoping for, and that’s something I’ve talked about in previous reviews.
As for art, Chris Bachalo provides pencils as he’s done in the past. That doesn’t mean the issue looks like the others because we get two colorists — Jose Villarrubia and Rain Beredo — whose styles contrast against each other.
Beredo’s colors are glossier and brighter than Villarrubia’s, and its effect on Bachalo’s pencils exaggerates facial expressions. I’m a huge fan of Beredo’s colors on Stuart Immonen’s pencils in All-New X-Men, but on Bachalo’s cubist work, it doesn’t always jive because the shading adds definition that clashes with Bachalo’s face shapes and anatomy.
Villarrubia’s colors are much more suited to Bachalo’s artwork with flatter tones and highlights that follow the lines. Rather than create dimension through shading, Villarrubia gives priority to shadows and lighting. Take a look at Beast’s face with special emphasis on the lines and contours of the mouth.
The mix of the two styles creates dramatic shifts. It’s no fault of the colorists, and I’m not sure why Marvel decided to go in this direction because even with the same artist, changing one element can really have an effect on a particular panel or page.
Back to the lines, Bachalo doesn’t fudge it in terms of the big picture. Panels brim with characters, destruction and debris, and sequentials that flow from panel to panel. On scale, several panels — the double-page with the Avengers and X-Men will probably command a huge price for the originals — show what Bachalo can do when he’s given the time to do it.
That brings us to the five inkers — Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, and Al Vey — who provide the finishing touches and fill-ins. I would have liked something more in the eyes in some panels, but overall, it’s a job well done.
Uncanny X-Men #27 has its origins in the Original Sins crossover that brought one of Xavier’s secrets to light. Though there are still plenty of questions surrounding his last will and testament, we’ve come across a mutant with extraordinary powers who must be dealt with in one way or another. I think it’s interesting to see that in the years since the Professor’s death, it’s only now that the X-Men are seeing his true wishes being fulfilled: peaceful interaction and communication rather than violence. I see Cyclops truly embodying Xavier’s vision in a time when it looks like the Jean Grey School X-Men have become too self-righteous to see how far they’ve fallen. That alone makes this issue a standout, though it is another section of the ride that is the current story arc.
Let’s hope the rest of the ride is as good.
Uncanny X-Men #27 (2013)
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Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, and Al Vey
Colors: Jose Villarrubia and Rain Beredo
Letters: Joe Caramagna