Despite DC’s recent cancellation and relaunch of all its titles, including ‘Action Comics’ and ‘Detective Comics’ which have run continuously since the 1930s, it still felt odd picking up the very last issue of ‘Uncanny X-Men!’ Such a ground-breaking and influential title, it seemed very strange that it was ending!
The book opens in a humorous reprint of the very first page from ‘Uncanny X-Men’ #1, drawn by Jack Kirby, but with new dialogue superimposed. It was nice to acknowledge the group’s humble beginnings, but didn’t take itself too seriously.
There are two parallel stories in this book. In one, Mr. Sinister is dictating the recent history of the mutants, culminating in ‘Schism’ and the characters choosing to either follow Cyclops or Wolverine. Along the way, Sinister destroys his body and creates a new one. The other story follows Ice Man’s goodbye to Cyclops and their life on Utopia. Bobby is the last of Wolverine’s faction to leave the island, because he can’t stand leaving Scott. Cyclops in return is cold and stoic. Beast pops in to rub salt in Cyclops’ wounds, then Wolverine and his allies depart. This departure has already been depicted in numerous books from various characters’ angles. Cyclops seemingly turns his back on the past by packing away any mementos of the X-Men’s prior history and he informs Emma Frost that he doesn’t understand why the others are headed back to Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, when “I feel like I’ve finally graduated.”
Is this truly the end of an era? It certainly feels that way, as Cyclops continues his proactive approach to mutant liberation. However, X-Men is one of those properties that really does have trouble with maintaining a fresh approach. It seems like every time a new creative team came on board, they just wanted to retell the same stories from the past, fight Magneto, the Hellfire Club, Juggernaut, go into space with the Shi’Ar, visit the Savage Land, something-something time travel, rinse, repeat. But for now, I’m hoping we do get some fresh ideas and story-lines… although dragging Mr. Sinister back to the forefront rather than introducing a new threat isn’t the best sign.
For the end of such an iconic title, this farewell felt pretty irreverent. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Clearly, the creative team wanted to avoid schmaltz and they succeeded, with Bobby, as usual, providing both laughs and heart. Greg Land’s art has always been some of the nicest, cleanest rendering in the business and he carries on nicely here, especially in one double page spread depicting some of the highlights of the X-Men’s history. Of course Land’s other strength is his beautiful women and he provides that here as well. Cyclops, Ice Man and Sinister are the major players, but Land sprinkles in small cameos from Domino, Psylocke, Hope, Storm and others.
I think for errant fans who’ve strayed from this series (and I’ve been among them at times), this may have felt like an awkward homecoming. If you haven’t read the X-Books within the last year, it provides an overview of all the major events and sets the stage for the future of the line. So that was good, but I don’t feel it was an essential read. I’d already read ‘Schism’ and some of the other X-Books, so I didn’t need the recap and while the always likeable Ice Man got to take the stage a bit, it wasn’t required reading and I think I could have picked up any X-Book after this and not felt lost. Therefore…
UNCANNY X-MEN #544
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art and Cover by Greg Land