Uncanny X-Men #1: Oh, So That’s What You’re Doing

Brian Michael Bendis relaunches the flagship X-book with confusing continuity problems starting already.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Brian Michael Bendis is a talented writer, as evidenced by his work on Daredevil: End of Days at the moment. His glaring weakness, however, has always been his lack of regard for continuity, although certainly there are those who consider that a ballsy strength. With his relaunch of Uncanny X-Men cementing his takeover of the X-books, he's establishing a new status quo for Cyclops and his team of revolutionaries that seems to bear little relation to what the fall-out of Avengers vs. X-Men led us to believe it would be.

As I recall, the events of AvX had the five Phoenix Force mutants essentially taking over America and reformatting it into some kind of mutant utopia. Sure, there may have been those who liked some of what he was offering, but by and large, people don't respond well to mutant despots in the Marvel Universe. Hate and fear and all that. However, in Uncanny X-Men #1, Bendis informs us that the actual result of AvX is that only the superhero community actually hates Cyclops, and the people love him – particularly all the mutants they've been rescuing. So Cyclops is a revolutionary hero to the people. Apparently, normal people have no idea why Cyclops was in prison, and thus they view Infamous Terrorist Magneto breaking him out as justified. I could see if just mutants loved Cyclops, but Bendis makes it sound as if the general public is along for that ride, too.

I suppose I can swallow that, since AvX kind of painted Cyclops into a corner (and wasn't all that good, either). So, despite AvX Consquences painting them as villains, Cyclops' new X-Men squad – with fellow Phoenix Five Despot/Killers Emma Frost and Magik, and Aforeentioned Infamous Terrorist Magneto – are considered cult heroes (using the Cyclops Was Right motto), because apparently Scott Summers' crimes were not made public, and people have short memories. Hence, UXM #1 is framed around the idea that you can't simply kill Summers for fear of martyring him. Instead, they must expose him and tear him down. The whole issue is this notion being explained to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Maria Hill.

By Magneto. Who is apparently selling out Cyclops because he's mad that he killed Xavier and used the Phoenix to mess up his powers, and now he thinks Scott should be in jail.

This would be AFTER Magneto used those powers to break Cyclops out of jail in the first place.

That doesn't make much sense. In fact, the only way this makes sense is if Magneto is actually trying to dupe S.H.I.E.L.D. at the behest of Cyclops, and granted, that may turn out to be the case. But the whole issue just comes with a skeptical sense of 'wait, what?'  Chris Bachalo's art is pretty fun, even if the new look of Cyclops dumb eyeless X-mask face is, well, dumb. Also, Bendis still doesn't seem to have any idea how to write Emma Frost or, as we see here, Magik. He's searching the X-cast for his snarky lady characters to deliver his standard casual Bendis dialogue, but he's not writing them in the actual snarky way they are supposed to be snarky, which is not in that causal Bendis way. Emma Frost would call Sentinels "these puppies," and Illyana Rasputin doesn't seem the type to use the term "bejeebus." Magik, I can see being a bit hard to nail down, but come on. Bendis SHOULD be able to get Emma right – she's catty, which he can do, but she comes from a haughty perspective, not an 'Average Jane' tone. It's not a big adjustment, but it's crucial.

So it feels like Bendis is still getting his feet wet with X-characters, and perhaps he'll make the proper adjustments soon and find the right rhythm. More likely, though, is that this is just going to be how these characters are now, because that's the way he wants to write them. When he gets to play in a world mostly of his devising, like Ultimate Comics or Daredevil alternate realities, we like him. When he's trying to fit into the mainstream 616, not so much. Well, at least I don't. All y'all kept him writing Avengers comics for a decade, so I'm apparently in the minority here.