With ‘Battle of the Atom’ in the rear view mirror. we have the students of the ‘Uncanny X-Men’ questioning what exactly they are going to be doing now. Will the original X-Men be joining their classes? What lies ahead in their future?
None of this is addressed. Instead we focus primarily on one of the newer Uncanny X-Men, Benjamin Deen, and Emma Frost who is training him. The very end of the issue does lead us to an unresolved issue from ‘Battle of the Atom’ that will clearly be coming up over the new story line, but we’ll get to that. The main thing is we find out a little more about Benjamin Deen and how exactly his powers could prove useful to the team.
Benjamin is a character whose power changes his appearance subtly to match those he’s talking to and in a way cause them to trust him because of it. Emma suspects that there are quite a few advantages to this skill set and even though Cyclops initially seems to be dismissing Benjamin, Emma takes the issue to truly focus him. It’s actually quite interesting on two fronts: first on the successful proper introduction to the character and second because it shows off Emma’s teaching chops. We’ve been told of Emma as the teacher for years but very few instances do we actually get to see her successfully teaching students. This story has that down perfectly including using her sex appeal and banter to do so.
What’s interesting is that while the way she’s rendered in this issue throws her sexuality front and center, it doesn’t do too much as we soon find out when Emma tries to have Benjamin seduce a woman to focus his powers. His response? “I’m gay.” Her response? “I don’t care. What does that have to do with this?” Not only is that a perfect Emma response but it really shows things exactly as they are. Black, white, gay, straight, they are all mutants. Emma understands this more than most and anything else they are doesn’t really matter.
The entire issue is a training exercise to develop his skills and ends with him having to deliver a single letter and here’s where we get a lead in to the next plot. The letter ends up to the CEO of an apparently random corporation. The company though is actually the front that S.H.I.E.L.D. is using for their off the records sentinel program, and the letter is a warning to them. At the end of the issue Cyclops even praises him for working on his mutant powers but says he still needs training since he can’t hold himself up in a fight. There’s a few jokes about a potential code name including listing ‘Morph’ as one but whatever his mutant name ends up being that’s still for a future issue. I have a feeling we’re going to be seeing him used for infiltration quite a few times in the upcoming year, and most likely at least once into Wolverine’s school.
This isn’t your typical between events issue but it’s one I felt was extremely successful. There are still a lot of questions up in the air and we clearly haven’t scratched the surface regarding the fallout from the ‘Battle of the Atom’ quite yet, but as a way to move the plot forward and highlight a couple of characters? This one was pretty perfect.
UNCANNY X-MEN #14
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo