Uncanny X-Men #22 Fights An Eternal War
by Tony Thornley
One of the many taglines associated with the X-Men has been “defending a world that hates and fears them.” But what happens when the world didn’t even know mutants exist?
Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, David Messina, Guru-eFx, and Joe Caramagna bring their story to an end in this issue.
Emma Frost has erased any trace of mutants’ existence from the collective minds of humanity. However, one person remembers- General Callahan, the leader of ONE and the source of many of the mutant race’s problems dating back even before the majority of the X-Men vanished. Can Cyclops and the remaining X-Men defeat Callahan or will they need help? And will help even come?
I have to say that this issue is full of moments that X-Men fans have wanted since Rosenberg’s run started. We see the bond between Cyclops and Havok, and Cyclops and Wolverine on full display, the two relationships that have been the absolute highlight of this story. He also totally nails Scott Summers as a character. This run has done so much to redeem and restore Scott to the character that won over many fans who were willing to look past his “boring stiff” personality, but Rosenberg also makes sure that he’s human and fallible.
Best of all, the return of the X-Men, in the wake of Age of X-Man Omega’s conclusion, is a fist pumping action scene, and it’s written perfectly. It starts with a line of dialogue that’s pure fan service- the classic “To me, my X-Men” delivered by Storm- but Rosenberg uses it to convey hope, especially given Cyclops’ desperate battle cry of “X-Men attack!” several pages earlier.
In a few places though, this story doesn’t quite land. Once again, several characters die, and given the carnage the book has gone through, it’s lost its impact. That’s unfortunate for the first death, which probably should be the biggest gut punch of the run. Also, one of the biggest moments- a reunion between two beloved characters- feels unearned, even if it’s exciting for fans of the pairing like myself.
Larroca’s work once again is solid with some issues. He often portrays several characters inconsistently, most glaringly Emma Frost- who changes hairstyles and waistlines from panel to panel. However, when it counts, he delivers, especially in the aforementioned reunion (which includes more than just the reunited pair to great effect), and the final splash page of the issue.
Messina’s pages are few, but impactful, as he depicts the return of the X-Men to battle Callahan’s Technarch Sentinels. It’s around a half dozen pages, and it’s pure superhero action, giving both classic characters and fan favorites moments to shine. It’s at its best, by far, with the full page splash of the X-Men’s return, with Storm at the center.
So with this run at its conclusion, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed this story, warts and all. There were bumps and missteps, without a doubt, and one issue that was outright problematic. In the overall view though, it was a good story and I’m going to miss Rosenberg’s work on X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men #22 is available now from Marvel Comics.