This Poor Book Just Can't Get Away From Fraction
Starting with this issue, Uncanny X-Men begins stumbling its way through Fear Itself as best it can, which does not make for a great issue. Kieron Gillen certainly tries to make the most of it, but the Fear Itself event really does not present him with much to work with.
It is almost cruel in a way. Shortly after taking the reins of Uncanny X-Men from Matt Fraction, here Gillen is having to tie the series into Fraction's Fear Itself event. Gillen has to revolve this story around Juggernaut as one of the Worthy, a concept that has been left so painfully underdeveloped by Fraction that no one really seems to understand what to do with them. What exactly are they? What exactly are they doing? It seems to depend on which tie-in you read, and it is no different here. Juggernaut, or technically Kuurth, appears to have recruited a random sidekick. Because... he does that in this tie-in. Honestly, it is just another drop in the bucket of the ambiguous concept of the Worthy.
Surprisingly, Gillen even ties into another Fear Itself tie-in, specifically Namor's Fear Itself: the Deep. You at least have to give Gillen credit. He's not shying away from this. The scene between Namor and Emma Frost is a difficult one for me to be objective about. Part of me loves it for how it suggests that Namor will no longer be an X-Man. I have always hated Namor as part of the X-Men and being treated as a mutant. The idea of Namor finally leaving is an exciting development for me. On the other hand, this scene also brings Namor and Emma's attraction to a head. This supposed love triangle between Scott, Emma and Namor has not been something Fraction or Gillen have ever been able to convince me on. You can not tell me that Namor's interest in Emma goes anywhere beyond his desire to dress her up in an Fantastic Four costume. Any attempt to imply there are genuine feelings between Emma and Namor comes off as forced, as it does here.
In another scene, Gillen makes a pretty far-fetched assumption that all of his readers have already been New Mutants readers, because we are suddenly following a plot thread from that series. Colossus visits his sister Magik, who is being held in the brig because of... whatever she has done. She is also not sorry about... whatever she did. What is this? I get that Colossus is going to play a major role in this story arc and that this scene will probably play into that somehow. But this scene comes out of nowhere.
The most interesting part of the issue is Cyclops' meeting Mayor Sadie Sinclair. The X-Men's new relationship with San Francisco is something that has really not been explored enough since the team switched coasts. It first got bumped to the side by Dark Reign with everyone evacuating the city for Utopia, and now, it seems like it might get bumped aside again while the book deals with its Fear Itself tie-in.
I guess the art needs to be mentioned. It's by Greg Land. All of the usual criticisms apply.
This is definitely Kieron Gillen's weakest issue of Uncanny X-Men so far. A big part of it is the unenviable task he has of tying into Fear Itself, but all of the blame really cannot be put on that. The Emma and Namor scene is forced. The Colossus and Magik scene is poorly explained. There's a chance Gillen can salvage this into something better next issue, though. Unless you are already a reader of Uncanny X-Men, there's really no reason to pick this up to follow Fear Itself.