By Cullen Bunn, Greg Land, David Curiel and Jay Leisten
There is a battle brewing within the X-Men universe. You can definitely say that the merry band of mutants has always been under some kind of fire or scrutiny; this time feels like it’s on a grander scale. Mutants are becoming sterile (thank you very much, Inhumans) and the species is dying. This all may seem like it’s something we’ve read before, and to some extent it is, House of M and Endangered Species ring a bell, but there does seem to be something different this time around. The X-Men generally have good luck and come out of these situations fairly unharmed, but things may be a little different this time around.
Many of the current crop of X-books have gotten some criticisms, but Cullen Bunn’s Uncanny X-Men has gotten off the hook for the most part. What works for Bunn’s run (hey, that rhymes) is his care for the characters. This issue we see more of the new Hellfire Club and we also see a bit more of a rift start to open between Magneto and Psylocke. This is something Bunn has been playing with for a while, and Betsy being in the dark about Erik’s ties to the new Hellfire Club is another example of broken trust. There is a parallel that runs through this issue with pages of modern times and flashbacks. The flashbacks show how Magneto was able to recruit Psylocke, and the present parts of the issue show how things are starting to break. The motivations for Magneto this issue feel justified for the current times of the X-Men. If there was a small drawback to this issue, even though it is necessary, there was a lot of talking. Although not every book can be shock deaths and action panels, some bits with the Hellfire Club dragged on a bit. This was a talking issue for the most part. There was a lot of setup involved, and not much action. As the issue begins to pick up, it ends, leaving us waiting for next month.
The pencils this issue are handled by Greg Land with colors by David Curiel and inks by Jay Leisten. The art on this entire series has been very good so far. Ken Lashley filled in recently, and he was excellent, but Greg Land is back. Land has that very photo-realistic style. Almost too realistic for some, but his work looks great here. There doesn’t seem to be any re-used images, which is a common knock against Land. There is an excellent panel in a flashback sequence where Magneto has images of all the potential candidates for his new team. Land does a wonderful job showing off his ability to draw many characters in this panel. Everyone from Cyclops to Apocalypse is present and they all look great. The colors by David Curiel are very strong this issue too. Panels are dark when they need to be, like in the first couple of pages. As Magneto tries to enlist Psylocke, Warren is entirely shaded except for his wings and the design on his costume. This is an excellent demonstration of the work of Curiel.
Uncanny X-Men has consistently been the best of the X-bunch and Bunn’s care for the characters is the reason why. The art has been very good throughout the series and this issue keeps up with that trend. There may not be a better anti-hero book in the Marvel arsenal than Uncanny X-Men.