Graphic Novel Review: Uncanny X-Men: The Good, the Bad and the Inhuman

11:17 19 June 2014

Uncanny X-Men: The Good, the Bad and the Inhuman

Uncanny X-Men: The Good, the Bad and the Inhuman

Archant

Cyclops’ renegade band of mutants are caught up in the Inhumanity event...

(Panini Books)

Brian Michael Bendis is a fantastic comics writer. This is the man responsible for the likes of Alias, Powers and a definitive run on Daredevil. Admittedly, some of his later work on the Avengers franchise was tired and floundering, but when he took it over he succeeded in completely changing the dynamic of the team, bringing in dramatically different members like Spider-Man and Wolverine, and creating a long-running story arc which either launched or played to the best strengths of crossovers House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, Dark Reign and Siege.

So why is he struggling with the X-Men? The All-New X-Men series has a fantastic premise – the original teenage mutant team is brought into the present – as does their Uncanny sister title – Cyclops leads mutant terrorists towards revolution – yet neither have really delivered in terms of plot development.

We’ve looked at All-New X-Men in greater depth with their most recent titles, but Uncanny doesn’t have such a prolific release schedule, so the collected editions are somewhat behind.

This is the third volume focusing on Scott (Cyclops) Summers and his allies Emma Frost, Magneto and Magik, all touched for better or worse by the Phoenix Force and left forever changed by the events of the Avengers Vs X-Men crossover. On the run from the authorities and holed up in the former Weapon X facility in Canada, they have set up a new Xavier School in memory of the late Professor X, and begun recruiting mutants to their cause.

But the thing is, the cause of proactive mutant rights which Cyclops has been banging on about for years appears to have faded by the wayside. For a long time he was presented as the team leader who would do whatever was necessary to protect his race, committing illegal actions which could be construed as terrorism, but that extremism appears to have been gradually diluted over time.

There’s nothing in this latest volume to suggest Cyclops’ mission of revolution, and instead he seems focused on merely training his young recruits in the use of their powers, which apparently involves a lot of climbing up snow-capped mountains and fighting monsters.

Admittedly, it’s clear that Scott views his operation as the recruitment and training of mutant soldiers, in contrast to the education-led approach of former teammate Wolverine, but again this doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere.

Unfortunately the new students are basically ciphers, with little character development and no real purpose beyond existing to fulfil Cyclops’ mission statement. At the moment it’s highly likely they’ll have a place in the X-Men universe once Bendis leaves, and to be honest I’m not sure if anyone will really care.

In the midst of this, we have a girls’ night out to London, which echoes similar excursions during Chris Claremont’s run on the X-Men, but here serves only to hammer home the events of the worldwide cataclysm that is Inhumanity, when thousands of dormant bloodline descendants of the Inhuman race are genetically altered by the effects of the recently-released Terrigen Mists.

That in itself is a major clash with the concept of the X-Men, namely ordinary people who suddenly develop super-powers, and it’s difficult to know where Marvel is going with the idea.

Oh, and Magneto disappears to star in his own solo series, without any real reason or motivation, leaving many of his ongoing plot strands unresolved.

I want so much to be enjoying Bendis’ run, and I approach each new volume with excitement and anticipation for that hitherto unseen moment when it really steps up a gear and becomes something great, but for the time being it just hasn’t delivered.

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