Review: Uncanny X-Men 26 by Bendis and Anka | Fanboys Anonymous

Review: Uncanny X-Men 26 by Bendis and Anka

Posted by Sean Hamilton Friday, October 24, 2014
Uncanny X-Men #26 Cyclops Overwhelmned by Chris Bachalo
Uncanny X-Men #26 cover bv Chris Bachalo
"To me, my X-Men, one last time…"

The words of Charles Xavier ring in the air as Cyclops, Wolverine, and the other X-Men continue to deal with the effects of hearing their former mentor, leader, and teacher confess to doing the exact opposite of what he had always taught his students to do.

Uncanny X-Men #26 picks up the search for Matthew Malloy, the dangerous mutant, whose powers Xavier had been trying to inhibit for most of the former's life. With Xavier now gone, the psychic blocks holding Mallow back have fallen, with devastating results. Enter Maria Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D.—as so often is the case in this series—to step up to the mutant menace.

Hill has been constantly battling the threat posed by various groups or individuals but has been prominent in this and previous arcs of Uncanny X-Men. It is nice to see Brian Bendis using this in a constructive manner in #26, as Hill reaches out to the X-Men once she realizes Malloy is a mutant. This is a nice contrast to Hill's previous attitude and builds on the incidents at the Jean Grey School in Uncanny X-Men issues #21 and #22 and the outcome of the Battle of the Atom event.

Cyclops cant handle the truth about Xavier
Xavier's teaching for Cyclops was a lie.
As we progress through #26, it is nice to see some collaboration between Cyclops and Wolverine as they attempt to fulfill Xavier's last wishes. However, this is not without some understandable confrontation from Cyclops, who resents his old teacher's revelations and still shows guilt for unwittingly killing him. Storm and Wolverine quickly quell the obtuse excuses Cyclops rants about, but it is the surprising turn of Iceman, who shows a rather vindictive streak, that provides the most satisfaction here.

Bendis is big on characterization, on seeing the development of characters beyond what they appear, building weaknesses into strengths, and exploring unique ways of having them react to new situations. For Iceman, we see one of the original X-Men declare his hatred of Cyclops for killing Xavier. Iceman is often seen as a comic relief for some of the other more serious undertones of the world of the X-Men, so this approach is refreshing.

Besides the above-mentioned characters, the story seems to be progressing, but the pace is not extremely quick. This is not necessarily a drawback, as it feels like Bendis is building this up again. We get glimpses of what Malloy is now capable of, and other pieces such as the X-Men and S.H.I.E.L.D. collaboration begin to take shape. This is a nice way to lead into issue #27 of Uncanny X-Men.

Uncanny X-Men 26 Maria Hill losing the war on mutants by Chris Bachalo
Maria Hill realizes her nightmare about mutants has come true.
One of the most fascinating developments out of issue #26 is the training scene at the new Xavier School for Cyclops' students. As Triage challenges the status quo for the group's moral compass and tries to understand his and the other students' place in the wider mutant agenda, we start to see splinter, hairline cracks forming in the group that could lead to some great stories in the future. Also a highlight is Goldballs actually using his name as a catchphrase during his training; this was a great moment in which the artists lift the seriousness of the series as it currently stands.

Kris Anka is on art duty this time around, and his more simple, expressive take on faces lets us digest the more straightforward emotions of the characters in this issue. Anka has a clean line style, but it is on a second viewing of the art that you can see his emphasis on clearly and concisely telling the story that he wants to achieve. The colors Anka uses are another great cue to enhance his storytelling; the limited use of colors mirrors the emotions or tone of any particular panel or series of panels throughout the issue. For example, the action set pieces, with confrontation between Cyclops and the other X-Men or those panels involving S.H.I.E.L.D., are mostly reds and yellows, whereas the training environment and student debate about being good or bad are in softer purple hues.
Cyclops Rationalizing the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier
The X-Men leave to fulfill Xavier's last wishes.
As a creative endeavor, Uncanny X-Men aims to set a different standard from other Marvel comics. It is a part of the publisher's flagship titles for the mutant side of their universe but deals with some more mature themes and questions. Given this, it is great to see a real difference in art and storytelling used to set the series apart. Long may this continue.

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