Seeing Red — Uncanny X-Men #11 Review

A Sentinel attack on the X-Men in the midst of a peace rally pushes Cyclops over the edge while the team shows off the benefits of training.

Things have been set in motion for this year’s hottest crossover — Battle of the Atom — and it looks like all of the events the past few years have come to a head. From Schism to AvX, the X-Men have been splintered into rival factions. Major events have happened since then with the classic X-Men making an appearance in the present, Wolverine fighting the Hellfire Club, the heavy-hitting women forming a squad of their own, and Scott Summers’ team causing a worldwide revolution.

The attack on the rally puts more than the mutants in harm’s way — as the Uncanny X-Men try desperately to divert the attack and keep humans safe, X-Men leader Cyclops gives a play by play of what’s happening. The perspective does much to show where Summers’ head is at. As the leader charged with directing an offensive squad, Summers is responsible for every life under his command. Keeping collateral damage — the lives of innocent bystanders — to a minimum is part of the mission, and Cyclops’ narrative shows why he’s the original and ultimate leader of the X-Men, whether the rest of mutantkind wants him to be or not.

But for all of his strengths, it’s the weakness that defines Cyclops this issue. Separated from the Phoenix, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, and Magneto have found their powers broken. That sort of helplessness spurs Cyclops into a frothing anger, the kind of emotion that comes from a loss of control, but not the loss of motivation. At this point, we could very well be seeing Cyclops’ transition to a higher-form of mutant, be it the public version that everyone sees or the Omega-level kind.

It’s true that Cyclops has gone to this kind of extreme before. It’s a recurring theme — Cyclops gets angry. Cyclops shoots a major eyebeam. Cyclops wins. It happened when Apocalypse forced Cyclops to send his son into the future. It happened in Schism when a Seninel was sent to attack Utopia. It even happened to Professor X when Cyclops had the powers of Phoenix.

The contrast in Uncanny X-Men #11 is that things don’t go Cyclops’ way, and they don’t resolve as usual. The Sentinel attacking the X-Men and hapless civilians caught in the middle still stands, and Cyclops has given his all. The defeat puts a cap on how life has been panning out for Cyclops. Things haven’t been going in his favor in a long while. He’s an enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a fugitive of the law. He’s burnt bridges, can’t handle his own powers, and for the first time in a very long time, has no significant other to lean on.

It’s a lonely existence, but Cyclops still has purpose, and the person responsible for awakening a tremendous focus within Cyclops will have to answer for it in the Battle of the Atom series written by Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis has shown a complete understanding of the X-Men, and his plotlines have created ripples this side of Marvel’s universe.

Bendis’ characterizations of these classic characters have not shed their skin — they’re growing into them.  Cyclops has never been this popular, powerful, or important to the team. He’s not just a symbol, he’s a guerrilla fighter displaced by war. He has no real home to fight for — but people can relate to his ideals of a world where people can live in peace.

Uncanny X-Men #11 is the jumpoff for next two months worth of crossover issues, and it’s a fantastic one from story to art.

Frazer Irving, whose computer graphic creations have been hit or miss, excels when it comes to all-out melee. The abstract special effects he’s able to create gives the issue some far-out sequences. And where the Sentinel seemed to walk out of a dated sci-fi movie last issue, the electrical qualities of Irving’s art makes this issue hum with super flashy panels.

For a sidestory involving S.H.I.E.L.D. and Dazzler, artist Kris Anka shows what happens when Lady Hydra questions the Hand about their activities. Anka’s pages look a little out of place with its Samurai Jack-like visuals, and the issue might have been better served with those pages as a sort of epilogue. Even so, Anka’s artwork looks great, and this could be the makings for Dazzler’s Adventures.

Uncanny X-Men #11 is a win, and we finally get a glimpse of Cyclops on the mend. He’s sick and tired of being sick and tired. This is what progress looks like, and Summers is mad as hell and not taking it anymore.

Fans are open to the idea.

Save 20% on Marvel Pre-Orders

Uncanny X-Men #11 (2013)
[usr 5]
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Frazer Irving and Kris Anka
Letters: Joe Caramagna

Previous Issue: Uncanny X-Men #10 Review
Next Issue: Uncanny X-Men #12 Review

Buy Uncanny X-Men #11 from Things From Another World!

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