Uncanny X-men 18 Review and Cover

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Ron Garney
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

This is the first cross-over where I should have been reading two books at once, because quite frankly, Gillen is one seamless mofo. UNCANNY X-MEN 18 reads like pages within the pages of the “final” battle and Rise of Dark Scott Summers over in AvX.

Ingeniously Gillen melds the two events by using UNCANNY to show us a lovely dinner party between Scott and Emma on the psychic plane, while their bodies get iced, electrocuted, and Star Shield bitch slapped in the real world. This is truly crossovering done right. I never once felt lost in AvX before I read this issues, but for those of us who wear Team X-Men branded Underoos this was a deliciously sadistic deep dive into the psyches of living Gods.

I’ve read and owned every single issue of UNCANNY X-MEN, and have box upon box of runs in all the other X-permutations that have trickled down Marvel’s leg over the years. At this point I’m like an abused wife; even when the X-MEN are bad to me, and I know from the writing or art they don’t love me anymore, I still hang in there because I know with a nerd’s love they can be good again. There have been some horrific issues in recent years, some clustfuckery with a capital C. Not everyone can write X-MEN, but thankfully the Gillen rises above the pencil wielding troglodytes. X-MEN is all about differentiation of voice. Well, Gillen’s more schizophrenic than Sally Field and Margot Kidder combined because he perfectly captures the gazillion characters living on cloud city Utopia and has since day one of the renumbering earlier this year.

There’s nothing wrong with the X-MEN under Gillen’s charge, I honestly think he’s one of the best to tackle the series. Yet, people still have been rallying against AvX. Frankly, I just can’t understand the hate. Have we been here before?  Absolutely we have. The Phoenix force has been a staple in X-men for forty years or so. But this isn’t a valid argument. Comics should be a recycling of past canon placed into a modern context.  These Easter Eggs from the past used to be something we lived for. So what changed? The deluge of creator-owned titles out there might have something to do with it. New ideas are always more enticing than the comforts of home, but what these new titles lack is history. And in many cases they are a mere pastiche of these original Children of the Atom. Personally, I’ll take the personalities I know versus learning about characters who will most likely be around for only seven issues until the author sells his IP to Hollywood or moves on to a script writing gig somewhere else in tinsel town. There’s a history here and I want to see that history come back again in a new way. That mission was accomplished in my opinion.

The other side of the hate debate centers on some poor decision making on the part of both the X-MEN and the AVENGERS. This was most prevalent in the beginning of the series, when it was a battle of ideologies versus a battle against former heroes possessed by a cosmic force. I’ll give the haters some wiggle room here. Aaron architected himself into a corner, and didn’t provide the best rationale from the side of the X-MEN for why they did not want set a Hope Trap on the other side of the universe. I understood it because I had been with the X-MEN since Scarlett With uttered, “No more mutants.” Essentially the X-Men will do anything within their power to reignite their race and right now Hope is the only light at the end of that tunnel.   Also, if you think about the endgame, what if they did give Hope to the Phoenix force, she got gobbled up and the fucker still headed for the big blue marble in the sky. Put that in your star spangled pipe and smoke it Captain American’t.

I won’t deny the fact I’m biased. I have always been far more X than A, but part of that is by Marvel design. MARVEL NOW promises to close this great editorial chasm with the mash-ups of UNCANNY AVENGERS and so forth, so we’ll see. For now though, the dividing lines are clear and that’s truly the point of AvX and the subsequent teeth gnashing between Scott and Cap. At certain points, you can shoot holes in both of their arguments, showing no one, absolutely NO ONE, has an answer in the face of imminent destruction. Grasping at straws was all anyone could do until the Phoenix Force consumed the now defunct Phoenix Five.

The X-MEN felt better to me when the Phoenix Five was outside the fray of the AvX battle like the last Sinister World storyline, however I knew this time would be short lived. The X-Men in charge of the entire world will never work in the long run, even if they make it a better place. Like the Phoenix, you can only raze for so long before you are left with nothing and the Marvel universe could never sustain such destruction. Consequences aside, this was a great issue. To see the last vestiges of Scott and Emma’s humanity stripped away was a great conclusion for what was, and a strong catalyst for tomorrow.