Uncanny X-Men #11 Review

Uncanny X-Men #11 Review

Rather than welcoming fans in the first story arc of Uncanny X-Men’s return to publishing was nothing more than set-up for spin-off comics under the Age of X-Man banner. The good thing for Uncanny X-Men is that this series will not be involved with what is going on in the new universe created for the Age of X-Man comics. Instead Uncanny X-Men will be focusing on the aftermath of the majority of the X-Men disappearing and the anti-mutant vaccine being widely distributed.

Though the X-Men Disassembled story was a mess what has made me look forward to what comes next for this series is what happened in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1. In that comic Ed Brisson was able to set-up Cyclops as the returning leader that the X-Men need. Now it will be up to Matthew Rossenberg to pick up on the momentum created by Uncanny X-Men #1. Let’s find out if that will be the case with Uncanny X-Men #11.

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artists: Salvador Larroca (This Is Forever); John McCrea (Wolverine Returns); Juanan Ramirez (The Last Blindfold Story)

Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg (This Is Forever and The Last Blindfold Story); Mike Spicer (Wolverine Returns)

Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: Cyclops looks through the wreckage that is the Xavier Mansion and finds everything destroyed.

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Over at city hall the news runs a piece about how the “Anti-Mutant Vaccine” has passed clinical trials and is now set to be launched throughout the USA, with other countries distributing later in the year.

Outside Worthington Industries Cyclops comes across some kids vandalizing the statue of the original X-Men. The kids recognize Cyclops and run away even though he says “Cyclops is dead.”

A little later Cyclops is at a diner going over files he took from Worthington Industries. One of the waitresses asks Cyclops what he is doing. Cyclops says he is just looking for something lost. He then hears some people chasing someone and disappears.

Outside the diner some guys are bullying a woman who they found is a mutant. Cyclops appears and quickly defeats them all.

Cyclops checks on the woman and is surprised to find she is Blindfold. Blindfold says she is there to tell Cyclops that the X-Men are all dead. Cyclops says they don’t know that yet but Blindfold responds by saying that their mistakes will follow them in death.

One of the guys from earlier attacks Cyclops from behind. Cyclops quickly tosses the guy into the diner’s window. When he turns back Blindfold has already disappeared.

Later, Cyclops barges into Ben Urich’s office to ask for help in finding the X-Men. Ben says that while Cyclops return is something that would win him a Pulitzer he advises against telling that story. He then tells Cyclops he already tried looking for them and found the X-Men are dead.

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In Hell’s Kitchen Cyclops starts getting drunk alone. He eventually throws his bottle of alcohol in the air and destroys it with an optic blast.

Jamie Madrox appears from the shadows after watching Cyclops for 45 minutes. Jamie confirms that just about every mutant is either dead, locked up or deported. He does reveal that he does know several mutants that are hiding underground. Cyclops asks about Blindfold’s whereabouts. Jamie says they can’t find her unless she wants to be found but offers the help Cyclops needs, including giving him some money.

In the Midtown Sewers Cyclops meets up with Callisto. Callisto does not want to hear Cyclops explanation on how things are in the world since the X-Men have always left the Morlocks to fend for themselves.

Chamber appears to remind Cyclops how he led the X-Men into constant wars with the Avengers, Inhumans and others who looked at mutants wrong. Chamber goes on to say he is with the Morlocks to help them. Cyclops tries to say something but Chamber tells him the X-Men are done and to leave the sewers.

In Central Park where the Xavier Mansion once stood, Jamie finds Cyclops. Jamie gives Cyclops information on where Blindfold is. He then tells Cyclops that this is the last job he is doing and not to come looking for him. Jamie then walks off.

Cyclops goes to where Blindfold was staying only to find that she has killed herself.

At Empire State University a politician named Prestel holds a “The Future Is Human” rally. During the rally she talks down Senator Allen for his change of hearts on mutants and pushes how the anti-mutant vaccine is just the first step to ensuring a safe future for humanity.

Cyclops, who is in the crowd, questions Ms. Prestel about the mutant children who have been killed or deported. Ms. Prestel responds by asking about how many children are unsafe with mutants around.

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Several people in the crowd attack Cyclops, not knowing who he is, for being a mutant lover. Cyclops glasses fall off but tries to keep his cool. Eventually he gets overwhelmed by people beating him and fires an optic blast to defend himself.

Captain America appears and blocks Cyclops’ optic blast with his shield. Captain America gets Cyclops to stop his attack and gives him his glasses back. They then talk about the times they are currently in. Cyclops questions why Captain America is at a hate rally. Captain America says he is there to make sure a riot doesn’t break out.

Cyclops says Captain America is just helping his people since he never helped mutants. Captain America admits he wish he had done more to help the X-Men and mutants but asks Cyclops what he wished to accomplish by attending a anti-mutant rally. Cyclops says he was just standing up against fascism, something he thought Captain America would understand.

Captain America tries to convince Cyclops to continue their conversation elsewhere. Cyclops pushes back and starts talking to the news cameras recording the rally. He announces that he is the leader of the X-Men and needs the remaining mutants to gather in two nights where it all began.

Two nights later in Salem Center, Westchester, where the original Xavier Mansion stood, Cyclops is waiting for other mutants to show up. Instead the only ones that show up are the Reavers, Purifiers and Sapien League, all looking to kill Cyclops.

As they surround Cyclops and prepare their attack Wolverine appears out of nowhere and stabs Donald Pierce from behind with his claws.

Cyclops and Wolverine, without saying anything to each other, start fighting the Reavers, Purifiers and Sapien League together. While they get some minor injuries Cyclops and Wolverine are able to defeat the three groups.

With the fight over Cyclops greets Wolverine by saying “Logan” and Wolverine calls Cyclops “Slim.” After an awkward silent moment Wolverine says that since they’re all caught up its time for them to get to work. End of main story.

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The Good: Taken on its own merits Uncanny X-Men #11 by far does the best job in setting up what the direction of the franchise when compared to all the other restarts we’ve had in the last few years. As long as Matthew Rosenberg can push forward with strong progression he is now setting up Uncanny X-Men to be successful. Though because of all the recent history for the franchise, which Rosenberg had a big hand in working on, Uncanny X-Men #11 doesn’t reach its full potential due to this still being more of the same for the X-Men.

Where Rosenberg succeeds in most with Uncanny X-Men #11 is getting over the idea that this is the last chance for mutants. Even though things were dark before now it all has reached its breaking point for the entire mutant race. Positioning the rest of the Uncanny X-Men series in this way gives an immediate sense of urgency to Cyclops and Wolverine’s efforts to rebuild the X-Men. That is a sense of urgency that has been missing in previous attempts with a similar direction since House of M.

In creating that urgency Rosenberg puts over why this is not a time for Cyclops to hide in the shadows after returning from the dead. For the X-Men to successfully return Cyclops needs to be the fearless leader the X-Men need again. That means Cyclops can’t just look to create fights for the X-Men and mutants to get into constantly. This will take a lot of patience and planning from Cyclops part to make the X-Men’s return successful.

For the most part Rosenberg does a good job in establishing that Cyclops isn’t looking for a fight. While he goes through a dark period of depression as everyone tells him the X-Men are dead we never see him turn to violence as the first answer like he did in the time before his death. Instead the only time we do see Cyclops fight is in order to defend himself against attackers.

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Having Cyclops interact with Ben Urich was the best tone setter for what the X-Men are up against. As the most respected journalist in the Marvel Universe Ben was able to put in the minds of the reader and Cyclops that the X-Men are dead. Even though it was stated several times before this scene the way Ben said it made it feel more real because of his credibility as a journalist. And with only being one page Rosenberg made great use of making Ben’s words leave a great impact on what Cyclops return and the death of the X-Men meant.

This scene with Ben made the argument Cyclops and Captain America have later in Uncanny X-Men #11 much stronger. Rosenberg directly addressed the problems between the leaders of the Avengers and X-Men over the years. In all of their recent clashes neither leader has come off looking great. Even with Cyclops returning to being a hero again it does not mean the tension between him and Captain America is going away. At least with this interaction it does show that both Cyclops and Captain America are now willing to talk, even if this first conversation between the two didn’t go over smoothly.

What helped make this scene better was the interaction Wolverine had with Black Widow and Winter Soldier in the “Wolverine Returns” back-up that took place at the same time. This interaction complimented what Cyclops and Captain America discussed well. It further pushed how if the X-Men are to be successful they can’t continue acting the way they have before. Using the history Wolverine has with Black Widow in particular created interest in having the X-Men and Avengers meeting up again and having their relationship evolve from what it has been.

This all speaks to how Rosenberg did a very good job in using the Wolverine and Blindfold stories to compliment the main story around Cyclops. The look into what both characters were doing while Cyclops was on his own journey fleshed out what the world is like at the moment. Rosenberg made good use of how Wolverine and Blindfold are two very different characters from Cyclops to provide a different perspective on everything.

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The Wolverine back-up in particular set-up how things will be different between him and Cyclops this time. They are no longer on opposite ends of the way to help mutants survive and prosper. With both characters returning Rosenberg pushes how Cyclops and Wolverine now understand that to make things work they need to work together as equals. Having them come to a silent understanding of this after they addressed each other as “Logan” and “Slim” shows this. It was a great way to use the fans understanding of Cyclops and Wolverine’s history with each to tell the story rather a drawn out discussion.

Blindfold’s part in this story was by far the most tragic of them all. Having the character die was disappointing because Blindfold is a character with a ton of untapped potential. But while it is disappointing it does further how much Cyclops and Wolverine will be up against. Blindfold’s entire story paints a fuller picture that the future isn’t great if things stay as they are. Throughout her story it is tough to see Blindfold go through what she does and how her experiences and powers led to her death.

What helped make all the stories better was the artwork featured throughout Uncanny X-Men #11. This was by far some of the best work Salvador Larroca has done. The detail he put into each scene pushed the overall narrative of how everyone in the world believes the X-Men to be dead. The way he designed Cyclops to look showed a progression of how he was a person constantly being beaten by this fact. It all led to how big of a moment Cyclops and Wolverine team up against the Reavers, Purifiers and Sapien League felt.

John McCrea also did a good job with the “Wolverine Returns” back-up. His artwork gave Wolverine’s story a much more grounded, street-level look that works for Wolverine’s character. It helped push the idea that Wolverine’s approach to taking action was much different from Cyclops. McCrea’s artwork helped put over how both characters personalities are very different.

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On a different note, Juanan Ramirez does a great job in capturing what Blindfold’s entire character arc is. Through Ramirez’s art we see how overwhelmed Blindfold is with everything she knows because of her powers and what she has experienced. Ramirez’s art was definitely the driving factor for what made Blindfold’s story such an emotional ride.

The Bad: There is no doubt that after Uncanny X-Men #11 that this series does feel like it is on a much better path than what was done during the “X-Men Disassemble” ten issue story arc. There is a lot more potential shown with where things are going with Cyclops and Wolverine at the forefront. But while that potential is there Rosenberg cannot escape the fact that we have been here before with the X-Men. This is the same story every X-Men writer has been drilling into fans over the last two decades.

I understand the need to tell the story of everything that the X-Men have to go up against to make the world accept mutants as people. But at some point we need to get beyond the whole “us against them” mentality that has permeated throughout the X-Men franchise. If the X-Men are to finally progress into the modern era there needs to be more to their story than just that they are becoming extinct. This particular direction is something that has been heavily pushed since House of M and we have not moved on from it even though that status quo has been around since 2005. That is over fourteen years of the same story.

What hurts Rosenberg’s turn at telling this story, as was the case with the first story arc of this relaunch of Uncanny X-Men, is that there is never a sense of hope things will get better. The best Rosenberg can give us is the idea that Cyclops and Wolverine can gather the remaining mutants to create a new X-Men team. That is a story that has been told way to many times in recent years. There is nothing new to this direction Rosenberg is taking the X-Men on. It’s more of the same with no hope of things getting better than it was back in 2005.

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Even more damaging to this direction is that Rosenberg does not pick up on the momentum Ed Brisson created for Cyclops character in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1. When that issue came to a close Brisson established that Cyclops understood that he had to be a strong leader who inspires others rather than being someone who leads others into endless wars. While Rosenberg address that in his own way he also regresses Cyclops character to be a guy looking for his former glory.

Adding to this was how odd it was to see Cyclops, who knew that the X-Men were gone at the end of the recent annual issue, have such a hard time moving on. This did not help build confidence in Cyclops leadership abilities as he struggled to let go of the past, even though Brisson set things up for that not to be the case. If Rosenberg wants this story to be successful Cyclops needs to not look into the past for answers. Instead Cyclops should be pushing forward with the here and now in order to focus on what the X-Men must do to have positive progression.

Rosenberg also did not make great use of Multiple Man’s role in the “X-Men Disassembled” story arc. Multiple Man’s role in the story is never fully addressed. Without addressing his role Jamie Maddox’s role in this story does not carry the same weight it should. Whether it was in his scenes with Cyclops or Wolverine, it would have made it much more meaningful for Jamie’s guilt over what happened in “X-Men Disassembled” to give reason why he was involved in the story.

While Blindfold’s story was an emotional one, as I said earlier, her death did come across as waste for a character with a ton of potential. It would have been a much better payoff to have the build up to her character be that she became an advisor for Cyclops and Wolverine’s new X-Men. Her death in many ways was just a vehicle to further the dark direction of the X-Men. Given Blindfold’s powers and past there was a lot of untapped potential with her character that is gone now.

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As has been the case with all of his appearance since debuting, the kid Cable once again zapped all the energy away from whatever scenes he was in. Thankfully kid Cable was only in a quick scene with Wolverine. But even in only being in one quick scene Rosenberg just reminded the reader how boring this version of Cable is. There has yet to be a moment that makes this version of Cable a character fans should be interested in.

Overall: Uncanny X-Men #11 is not a perfect issue. There are problems with the story as the direction Matthew Rosenberg’s has chosen is more of the same for the  X-Men franchise. What saves this issue is how Cyclops arc concludes and the quality back-up stories for Wolverine and Blindfold. Having strong artwork from Salvador Larroca, John McCrea and Juanan Ramirez helps further lift Uncanny X-Men #11 quality level.