All of the “X-Men” titles I’ve read so far from Marvel’s latest relaunch have done a good job of offering up familiar yet fun takes on the ideas and characters that have populated the franchise over the years. This version of “Uncanny X-Men” is a bit different from its peers in that it’s basically an “X-Force” book in disguise. (Much as I liked it, the swift commercial death-spiral of Si Spurrier’s quirky take on that series has likely forced the “X-Force” name into hibernation for a while.) Don’t believe me? We’ve got a team made up of Magneto, Psylocke, Sabretooth, Monet, and Archangel, with Mystique and Fantomex gallivanting around the fringes to likely join up in the next arc. They’re out to take the fight to those who would attack mutants in their time of trial as they succumb to the M-Pox brought on by the Terrigen Mists. For this first arc, that would be the Dark Riders, Apocalypse’s disciples who view the threat brought on by the mists as a welcome harbinger of their master’s “survival of the fittest” ethos. In order to help mutantkind along on their way to extinction, the Dark Riders have decided to take out all of the known mutant healers. This team of X-Men isn’t about to let that happen, or above finding a more permanent solution to the menace of this threat.
Cullen Bunn likely got this gig off the great work he did with his “Magneto” series, and his grasp of the character is as solid as ever. You can believe that he’d be able to hold together this group of misfits and psychos through sheer force of personality. As for the rest of the cast: Psylocke makes a good foil, Archangel’s inclusion is clearly fodder for a future story, Monet’s here for added snark and strength, and my god I hope they find a way to revert Sabretooth to his natural personality soon. All the “inversion” from the “Axis” event has accomplished with his character is to make him into a toothless Wolverine-lite.
Whether or not these characters look good in this story will likely come down to your feelings on its artist, Greg Land. Only the occasional manic grins from the female characters bother me about his style at this point. I still think he’s better suited to drawing more outlandish sci-fi stuff, and that’s not something we see here. At least Bunn is good with balancing this cast in what is basically a straightforward action story. It’s fine for what it is, but I hope that the threads left hanging at the end of this volume lead somewhere more interesting than the (hopefully) final showdown with some disposable thugs that was served up here.