The return of Uncanny X-Men to Marvel’s publishing line was something to celebrate when it was announced. It felt as though Marvel was ready to get behind the X-Men franchise again. That is something that has been proven as Uncanny X-Men has launched a number of new mini-series titles under the Age of X-Man banner. What has not been proven is that fans should be confident in where Marvel is taking the X-Men franchise. The X-Men Disassembled story arc completely fell flat. The only thing that was good about it was that thanks to the weekly release schedule it was over in just over two months. Outside of that X-Men Disassembled did nothing to build excitement or confidence in the Age of X-Man direction for the franchise.
Luckily those comics will be its own separate universe while Uncanny X-Men will now be telling a completely different story. That new story will involve Cyclops and Wolverine leading a new team of X-Men against the latest to mutants. Before we get to that story Marvel must first explain how Cyclops returned from the dead at the end of Extermination. That is were Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 comes in. This Annual issue will give us details on how Cyclops has returned and why he has been hiding while the X-Men dealt with X-Man. Let’s see what is revealed about all of this with Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Several weeks ago on Muir Island Cyclops somehow returns to life and blasts his way out of his grave.
Several years ago Scott Summers sneaks away from the Xavier Mansion to spend time in Cambridge, Massachusetts alone. While walking through the streets Scott notices people running away.
When Scott checks on what is going on he spots a giant robot attacking a large crowd of people.
Scott quickly changes into his costume and fights the robot as Cyclops. During the fightt Cyclops finds the guy controlling the robot and is able to destroy the device the guy is using to pilot the robot.
While the police are investigating the area everyone is thanking Cyclops for saving the day. One of Professor Tavin’s, the guy who attacked everyone, students thanks Cyclops and introduces himself as Paul Douek. Paul tells Cyclops that he owes him favor.
Ten years later in Boston the Young Cable finds Paul in his home. Young Cable reminds Paul of his promise to Cyclops ten years prior and says it is time to repay him. Young Cable says he needs Paul to build him a Phoenix Cage (a device the Secret Avengers built to contain the Phoenix Force) since he knows Paul is Tony Stark’s best employees.
Paul wonders if they can even trap the Phoenix Force. Young Cable says he is not looking to contain the Phoenix Force, rather siphon some of its energy. Young Cable then says Paul has two years to build the Phoenix Cage and leaves.
Two years later the X-Men hold a funeral for Cyclops after he died during the Death of X event.
After the funeral Young Cable and Paul watch the X-Men walk away. Paul reflects on how he thought Cyclops would come to his senses after he went off the rails recently. Young Cable states they don’t have much time and bodyslides them both out of Muir Island.
At a morgue Young Cable shows Paul the real dead body of Cyclops, which Emma Frost tricked the X-Men into believing they had the real one. Young Cable tells Paul to begin the process of using the Phoenix Force energy they have, though Paul is unsure if this will work. Young Cable says last time the Phoenix Force used Cyclops as vessel it was trying to protect itself and this time it will help by its own will. Paul then finishes implanting the Phoenix Cage inside Cyclops.
Several months later Cyclops and Jean Grey have there final kiss. They then tell the other that they’ll always love each other. As Cyclops dies again part of the Phoenix Force is contained within the Phoenix Cage implanted in his body.
Several weeks later Young Cable welcomes Cyclops back, calling him “Dad” in the process.
Inside Young Cable’s safehouse Cyclops thanks his son and Paul for reviving him. Cyclops mentions remembering seeing Jean and wonders if that was a dream. Young Cable goes over how the Phoenix Force tried to use Cyclops to convince Jean to stay merged with it. Paul then reveals the information about how the Phoenix Cage was used to fully bring him back alive. He then thanks Cyclops for saving his life years ago, allowing him to build a family for himself.
One week later Cyclops (back in his old blue full-body costume) tells Young Cable he wants to go help Jean. Young Cable states that his dad isn’t ready yet and bodyslides to his next mission.
One week later Professor Tavin is let out of prison and goes back to his old home. He goes into his basement. While looking at his old equipment he finds a note with Paul’s name and address on it.
A week later after the original time-displaced X-Men return to their timeline Cyclops tells Young Cable he now has the memories of his younger self again. Cyclops ask Young Cable why he killed the older version of him. Young Cable says his older version was a screw up who allowed the X-Men to be led into a destructive path for the future. Young Cable says it’s his job to keep the timeline in order.
Hearing that, Cyclops wonders why Young Cable brought him back when he should still be dead. Young Cable breaks down and says Cyclops is the X-Men’s leader and he couldn’t let his dad die the way he did.
Cyclops understands how his son feels and says that because of that he can’t stay in the bunker anymore. Young Cable agrees but will only let Cyclops go if he proves something first.
Young Cable reveals that up in Canada the X-Men are fighting for their future while over in Boston the life of Paul and his family are in danger. He tells Cyclops to choose which place to go to save the day. Cyclops can’t believe the choices his son is giving him.
In Canada the X-Men are shown struggling against the power of the merged X-Man/Legion and their Horsemen.
In Boston Paul and his family are cornered by Professor Tavin and his robots inside their home. Paul leads his wife and son in the basement while he is ready to face Professor Tavin alone so they can escape.
Suddenly Cyclops shows and quickly knocks Professor Tavin out with a concussive blast. Paul thanks Cyclops for saving him again. Cyclops then thanks Paul from bringing him back to life.
The next day at a beach in Canada, Cyclops reflects on the fight with the Avengers, killing Professor Xavier and the X-Men’s sudden disappearance yesterday. Cyclops states he was angry at the world for trying to snuff them out after they spent so much time trying to save the world. He then reflects on how he then became the same thing he was fighting against as he put mutants above everyone else, becoming the monster he once feared. Cyclops understands now he is wrong as the X-Men are gone.
Young Cable wonders what his dad is going to do. Cyclops states that he is going to find the X-Men and set things right. End of issue.
The Good: Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 is not a perfect issue. This is a comic book that does have several faults. But even if that is the case Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 is exactly the issue that the franchise needed. Not only does this bring Cyclops back to life there is also a sense of hope that now the X-Men will finally be heading into the right direction. At least that could be the case for the Uncanny X-Men series.
When it comes to comic book revivals they are never easy. There is always complications with how a character is revived that make it tough to believe. That is where Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 actually ends up working best. As unbelievable as it is Ed Brisson does work the recent Death of X, Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey, Extermination and X-Men Disassembled stories to create a whole story for Cyclops return.
Even without having knowledge of the Death of X storyline, since I skipped it, Brisson was able to provide enough context into how it relates to Cyclops returns. Brisson does that with each key story arc that he use to make Cyclops return as easily understandable as possible for X-Men fans. The best thing that he did was provide only the key details that the reader needed from these stories rather than trying to recap each one of them. In doing so Brisson is able to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to the X-Men.
Due to the recent years worth of stories I appreciated the fact that Brisson started Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 with showing us a solo adventure from when Scott was still a student. This helped remind anyone that forgot that at his core Scott is a superhero that will never turn his back on anyone. Even in the one day that he found a day for himself away from his X-Men responsibilities was saw that when the call came in he did not hesitate to become Cyclops and save people.
Now it was an odd choice to have Cyclops show this with how he was given a “Sophie’s Choice” type decision to make it did help get the point across. But what did work with this decision by Brisson is that it emphasized how Cyclops is willing to make the tough choice even if both options can be seen as good guy decision. This also help show that Cyclops understands he can’t just place the importance of mutants over everything else. To make the dream that is at the core of the X-Men successful Cyclops will need to see them as a force for good that protects everyone not just a select group of people.
This was an important thing to established as Brisson spent the rest of the issue giving Cyclops the reset that character has needed for a long time. Even though this is a reset point it does not mean that everything that Cyclops did is forgotten. Instead Brisson uses Scott’s recent past to push him to be even more motivated to return the X-Men to their previous superhero prominence.
In getting to that point it was important to see Scott be self-reflective. No matter how much fans want to ignore it, the fact remains that over the last few years Cyclops became the Neo-Magneto. While we knew what his intentions were there is no doubting Cyclops went about helping the X-Men and mutants in general the wrong way. He became the villains that he lead the X-Men to fight against and was blinded by that direction he went on.
Cyclops admitting this fact gave the character the growth that he desperately needed. It is a sign to the readers that just being revived and putting on one of his classic costume is not enough to immediately make him an X-Men again. Cyclops will need to put in the work to show that he understood what he did wrong and that he can be the leader the X-Men and society in general can follow.
Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 was also the first issue that actually showed signs that the Young Cable could be a compelling character. There is still a lot of work to do to get convince X-Men readers to get behind the Young Cable still left to be done. But the scene with Young Cable admitting to Cyclops why he brought his dad back even though it goes against his mission was a true honest moment. It dropped the tough guy facade Young Cable has been keeping up and made the scene come across as one about a father and son.
I was very impressed with Carlos Gomez’s artwork throughout Uncanny X-Men Annual #1. Gomez was able to hit the somber note when needed for the funeral and morgue scenes. At the same time he delivered on making moments such as the display of the Phoenix Force’s power and Cyclops blasting his way out of a grave feel like big moments in this issue.
Though it was only a few pages I appreciated the shift in style for the flashback scene involving an early Cyclops adventure. Giving these pages a different color pallette that made it look like Gomez’s artwork was changed to the style of the early days of the X-Men was impressive. It hit the right tone of that nostalgic time period while still carrying the design of how Gomez drew characters in the present.
The Bad: Where Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 falls flat is in some of the logic that is applied to explain why Cyclops has been hiding for several weeks. The explanation that Brisson gives for why Cyclops did not help the X-Men during the Extermination and Disassembled stories did not make sense. They instead just make Young Cable come across as a bigger jerk than he should have since the X-Men were in desperate need for Cyclops assistance during these events.
There is also no explanation made to what actually kept Cyclops locked up in the bunker. Brisson did even try to drop a mention that Young Cable was using a power dampener or something else to keep his dad where he thought was safest. Given that we saw Cyclops blast his way out of his own grave there was no reason why he wouldn’t just blast his out of Young Cable’s bunker.
And with how much time Brisson established that past this only goes to paint Young Cable in a worse light. Because the reality was that Young Cable did not have a plan for his dad once Cyclops returned. This made him look worse because he just kept his dad locked up in his bunker like some sort of toy rather than showing that he had a plan in place for how to properly integrate Cyclops back with the X-Men. This made his test to see if Cyclops is ready to be the X-Men leader again come across as an arbitrary thing he came up with on the fly.
The involvement of Professor Tavin also fell flat. There was absolutely no development for this villain. The character’s brief appearance did not make him into a compelling villain. All Professor Tavin turned out to be was a bad guy of the week that readers are going to easily forget after this issue.
Overall: Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 is not a perfect issue but it does succeed in its most important mission of returning Cyclops back to life. Ed Brisson used everything that Cyclops did and how things turn out for him to create strong motivation for what will push the character forward. With where the X-Men are now Cyclops returning as the team’s leader couldn’t come at a better time. Hopefully the positive character work done here is a sign of compelling stories to be told in the pages of Uncanny X-Men.