Ever since Battle of the Atom redrew the rosters of the X-titles, it’s been all about character development on Uncanny X-Men, and I say keep it comin’. I mentioned before but this title was in real danger of being one of the least defined in the lineup since it has the most new characters combined with the fact that it was still fairly new when Battle occured, but these last two issues have been amazing at getting to know both the newbies and the...oldbies. Yeah, oldbies. That’s the ticket...Brian Bendis focuses on the old guard this issue, revealing to us the conversation that took place when Kitty Pryde first arrived (and that conversation becomes very heated very quickly with an absolutely amazing moment) as well as Modern Scott interacting with Young Jean, another scene that packs some serious emotional punch. We also get to delight in some very funny interactions of the students adapting to their new home and, as always, it’s a witty good time. Of especial note is Emma Frost accusing Kitty and Magik of somehow engineering Jean’s return just to get back at her for some slight she can’t even remember the time nor place of. It’s a really funny scene with a really funny stinger at the end of it.
Marco Rudy handles linework on the title fresh off his work on Marvel Knights: Spider-Man and WOW! I remember him coming up before (most notably, for me, in the pages of Swamp Thing), but I always forget just how crazy-detailed his layouts are. It’s like J.H. Williams III and Lee Bermejo combined their styles and out sprang Rudy. The book has bizarre panel layouts that make it amazing to read, in spite of a complete lack of any real action and that seems intentional. If you’re going to make an issue that’s THIS dialog heavy, you’d better have Bendis teamed up with a visually interesting artist. We’ve also got Val Staples on colors and it’s a good thing because with VISUALS like these, you NEED a versatile colorist (this is becoming the weirdest version of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…” ever). Staples’ colors are understated and even naturalistic, but certain panels are supersaturated with, making them somehow both grounded and unreal. The mood is perfectly achieved in every instance of it.
As stellar as the art is, there are occasional faces that just look...off. Sometimes they’re overly lined, sometimes the skull structure has altered, and sometimes they just look plain “not right.”
What a great, beautiful, tragic entry into this series. I’m always happy when a book can effectively build character, and this was an important one to build as Cyclops is still fairly new to his role both as leader and as professor, and it’s good to see that he’s still paying his penance, internally at the very least, but that he won’t let anyone else drag themselves down to his level. People had concerns over Scott’s new outlook, but he’s still the same person he always was, just a better version of that person.