Since the Phoenix came back to Earth, some things have gone pretty loopy. Mutants are popping up all over the globe, Cyclops has gone rogue with a new X-Men team that’s gaining fans everywhere, and Sentinels have been connected to S.H.I.E.L.D. Last issue, Magneto offered S.H.I.E.L.D. his services, and he rejoins the team this issue setting in motion a plan that could reveal betrayal or a ruse.
Last issue, Cyclops rescued another mutant and barely fought off new-generation Sentinels with an optical blast that had less to do with skill and more to do with timing. Since the Phoenix left Earth, the former Phoenix Five have been dealing with the fallout. Emma, along with Magneto and Cyclops, has lost control of her powers and struggles with being less powerful than before. Unable to switch her powers off and on like before, she projects thoughts to Cyclops without being able to stop and without being able to peek into Summers’ mind. In the wake of their breakup, she’s vulnerable and insecure, and an honest conversation between the two leads to a mutual reconciliation without them getting back together.
Magik, on the other hand, has increased powers, and after the students of the new Charles Xavier’s School for Mutants get their introductions to the facilities, she whisks them away to Australia to reunite one of the students with her mother, while Magneto stays behind. The appearance of Cyclops new arch-enemy(ies) leaves readers on a cliffhanger that could be the X-Men’s biggest challenge thus far post-Phoenix.
Uncanny X-Men #2 is a wordy issue with a lot of open-air dialogue and very little action. Most of the issue is spent dealing with characters adapting to new situations. For the most part, Brian Michael Bendis’ script works well, especially in the beginning of the book when Summers and Frost discuss their relationship and their present conditions. The two began a relationship back when Summers was vulnerable in the aftermath of being merged with Apocalypse. He’s now much stronger and focused, and the tables have been turned on Frost who’s dealing with her perceived weaknesses. Illyana Rasputin gets a bigger speaking part in this book, and she leads the team to Australia for the mother-daughter reunion.
Chris Bachalo’s art doesn’t hit the high notes this issue, and there are some inconsistencies especially with the panels depicting Emma Frost whose face shape changes within the same page. It’s hard to tell some characters apart — Frost and Rasputin look very much alike besides hair styles — and there are only a handful of panels where characters actually open their mouths. Characters show expression through hand gestures and wide-open stares, and without much action, the X-Men sort of stand around like cutouts.
Four colorists worked on this issue, and Bachalo’s art gets drowned in muddying tones that sort of glob up the page for the second half of the book. It doesn’t help that the shades of brown used for skin tones makes Bachalo’s etched characters look like they’ve been carved out of stone.
It isn’t ground breaking — it’s mostly laying ground setting up characters and events for the next issue. It still carries some of the momentum from the first issue, and the last page definitely piques interest. How Bendis works Magento’s part in this could make or break the story and force questions.
How did Magneto leave the team long enough to be captured and questioned by S.H.I.E.L.D. without getting Summers’ attention? If Magneto’s capture was a ruse to bring the Avengers into play, how will Maria Hill live it down?
The next issue looks like it may provide answers and a lot of action. That would make for a more complete book.