Comic Review: Uncanny X-Men #19
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Caramagna
Previously, in Uncanny X-Men: The Phoenix Five have been reduced to the Phoenix One. Namor was defeated at the hands of the Avengers after his invasion of Wakanda, whilst Colossus and Magik were tricked by Spider-Man into defeating each other. When the Avengers, X-Men, Scarlet Witch, and Hope Summers battled the two remaining members, Emma Frost and Cyclops, Cyclops turned on Emma and defeated her himself, absorbing all of the Phoenix’s power.
Despite the urging of the assembled heroes, Cyclops would not listen to reason and relinquish the cosmic power of the Phoenix. Instead, he used it to murder his mentor, Professor Xavier, in cold blood. Now the stage is set for the final battle, as Cyclops has fully succumbed to the influence of the Phoenix, and become the new incarnation of the Dark Phoenix.
Have I mentioned how madly the quality of the X-Men books has been fluctuating under the Avengers Vs. X-Men banner? And this doesn’t apply anywhere moreso than Uncanny X-Men, which has been up and down more times than a roller coaster on full speed, but with only one issue left to go before this title comes to an end, it seems that it’s going to go out on a high, as this issue is absolutely fantastic on all fronts.
Splitting itself in half, this issue takes place first during the end battle between the Avengers, X-Men, and Dark Phoenix Cyclops, and then moves to the aftermath of the fight with Cyclops in custody. This issue feels like a culmination of the last few years of character work with Cyclops as he heads further and further down the path to villainy, but keeps to his convictions and never falters from his ideas. Given how he is the central villain of the crossover, we spend some time inside his head and see what makes him tick. We can also note how the influence of the Phoenix affects his perceptions and his decision-making process is really interesting, and a great choice of focus for this issue.
As Scott gets closer and closer to godhood, with the Phoenix’s power flowing through him, there’s a little section that will probably whet the appetite of those who have been expecting Jean Grey to appear during this Phoenix-related event. It feels like a throwback to Grant Morrison’s exploration of the Phoenix concept, with the White Hot Room reappearing (almost), and some little sarcastic comments that work really well to put everything in perspective for both Scott and the reader.
There are very few words in this issue, especially during the section of the book which has Phoenixclops setting everything on fire, and this allows Dale Eaglesham’s wonderful artwork to do the talking, so to speak. The title page for this issue is one of the most beautiful images I’ve seen in comics in a long time, and the final iconic splash page sums up Cyclops’ motivations in one image without even trying. I’ll also mention Joe Caramagna, whose lettering choices during the Phoenix section are inspired too, feeling both regal and almost out of control.
There’s only one issue of Uncanny X-Men left, and I do hope that it is of the same quality as this one. Avengers Vs. X-Men has been both a blessing and a curse for Uncanny X-Men, but if the next issue is this good, these two issues will more than make up for any of the weaker tie-in issues.
GO Rating: 5/5
Note: Apologies for the lack of images for this review, Marvel decided not to release previews for this issue for some unknown reason.