The traumatic events experienced in Limbo have one X-Men member quitting the team while the rest figure out how to move forward in an issue filled with scenes and developments.
Uncanny X-Men #8 begins with Cyclops and Emma Frost dropping Fabio off at his parent’s house before heading back to the X-Men’s secret headquarters. Elsewhere, as new mutants pop up, David begins to explore the possibility he was born with the X-gene. Standing in a parking lot with his (ex?)-girlfriend, David learns he can control cars. The commotion draws two police officers who arrive on the scene and rush to take control of the situation. The policemen’s prejudices lead to David being shot, but he’s saved when the X-Men appear.
Uncanny X-Men #8 is a loaded issue that puts the spotlight on several characters, switching from one scene to the next with precise timing. Score another for Brian Michael Bendis who keeps the spotlight on personal issues, like the complex relationship between Cyclops and Magneto. The heart to heart conversation calls back to decades worth of history between the two, and the mutual respect the teammates have for each other is something that hasn’t been explored in many years. There are expectations, assumptions, and understandings forged from years of character development, and the pair struggle with loss of their powers as well as the loss of innocence.
For Magneto, the hope is for Cyclops’ redemption. Scott Summers led the X-Men and often stood in the way of Magneto’s plans, and though they’ve fought each other almost to death on several occasions, they are two sides of the same coin. Both wanted to protect mutants, but where one wanted to see mutantkind and humankind side by side, the other did not hold homo sapiens in high regard. What Magneto wants to see is Cyclops earning back his innocence, dreams, and respect.
To do that, Summers proposes a partnership between the two former arch-rivals that will require trust and openness. To overcome the breaking of their powers, Magneto and Cyclops must train each other.
The issue ends with a comedic scene in which Fabio returns home. Bendis writes natural dialogue, and the voices of the characters in this issue are distinct and varied.
Uncanny X-Men #8 feels like a stepping stone that marks the spot where Bendis and the artistic team have hit their stride. The pacing is even, the transitions have impact, and the visuals hit a peak. Chris Bachalo returns after leaving for a few issues, and it seems as if he’s used that break to work on details and compose panels that sell the drama. Issue #8 has a high panel count, and Bachalo’s artwork looks polished with an intent to impress. There are still some issues with the colors — the pages look like they’ve been run through an orange filter — and the use of the dotted newsprint effect has a jarring effect that makes you remember you’re reading a comic book.
While it might seem like an obligatory shout-out to note who’s inked the book, there’s something about Tim Townsend’s inks that adds to the artwork. Lines vary in width, adding definition and clarity. Uncanny X-Men #8 would look great in black and white, and Townsend does justice to Bachalo’s pencils.
It isn’t the most action-packed issue or the most heartfelt, but it does fire on several cylinders. It’s like an engine rev filled with bark, previewing a hefty bite. The scripting is crisp, the art — whether you’re keen to the style or not — has a lot going for it, and the overall story benefits from having two heavy hitters in Bendis and Bachalo. The creative team has invested itself in this book, and it shows. The appearance of Alison Blair, aka Dazzler, in her S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform will excite many, and it’s an interesting contrast to Magneto’s teaming up with the organization back in issue #1.
Uncanny X-Men is Marvel’s flagship mutant book because it bears the standard title. It says a lot that this series doesn’t have Wolverine anywhere near it, and it’s good to see some of the heavy hitters get their own spotlight. Though the debate about Cyclops being right wages on, it appears as if Bendis has a plan for the future of Charles’ dream, and the way things have been moving along — it will probably be very uncanny.
Uncanny X-Men #8 (2013)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend
Colors: Chris Bachalo
Letters: Joe Caramagna