Review: Uncanny X-Men #32
“Uncanny X-Men #32 provides a hint of a payoff of Cyclops stories that have been rolling on since his fall from grace in Avengers vs. X-Men. If the endgame Bendis has planned for Scott before the writer leaves the book is half as good as this issue, Scott Summers fans—and X-Men fans in general—are in for a treat.”
Uncanny X-Men #32
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Release Date: Wed, March 25, 2015
In many ways, it would be fair to subtitle writer Brian Michael Bendis’ run on this most recent Uncanny X-Men series as “The Ballad of Scott Summers.” While Bendis certainly addresses other X-characters during his time with Uncanny, it’s clear that one of his primary goals of the series was to explore the reinvention and redemption of Scott, also known as Cyclops.
Cyclops’ role in the X-universe has taken a transformative turn in the past decade. From his ascension from team leader to headmaster of the Xavier School for Higher Learning in Joss Whedon’s stories, to his turn as the poster boy for mutant autonomy and independence, readers have seen Cyclops rise into a character who was portrayed as more self-assured and focused than he’s been depicted since his first appearance in the early 1960s.
However, recent events in the miniseries Avengers vs. X-Men have led the face of mutant justice to become ostracized by both his former teammates and others in the superhero community who once supported and lauded Summers’ work. Possessed by the cosmic Phoenix force, Cyclops’ actions in Avengers vs. X-Men led to the murder of his mentor and father-figure, Professor Xavier, by his own hand. Escaping from prison and regrouping with fellow X-Men who are also on the run and still and believe in Scott, Cyclops declares a “mutant revolution,” speaking to any camera he can to get the word out that no mutants will be harmed on his watch, damn the consequences. However, what exactly is the end goal of this mutant revolution? How far is Cyclops willing to take it? What is the point? And will Scott ultimately have to concede defeat in the face of overwhelming obstacles, one of which is his own conscience? All of these questions are inherently linked to Cyclops’ frame of mind and what his next steps will be in Uncanny X-Men #32.
The issue follows up on the aftermath of “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” story arc that had run the past few issues of Uncanny. Cyclops found out that Xavier left the school to Summers to carry on his legacy. With the emotional turmoil with which Cyclops has been wrestling the past few years coming to a head, he decides to leave the keys and ownership of the school to fellow X-Woman Storm, as long as putting her in charge of teaching the students in his charge throughout the Uncanny series. Whatever his culpability in the death of his de facto father, Cyclops decides that he can’t keep dodging having to face his demons and past sins head-on, resolving to turn himself in to S.H.I.E.L.D. authorities, come what may. Cyclops’ brother Havok and former paramour Emma both have their own ideas about that decision, however, and have a few words to put Scott’s choice and his mutant revolution into perspective.
This is a very dialogue-heavy issue, with little to no action to speak of. However, what really sells the story is the inner strife with which Cyclops has been contending since the events in Avengers vs. X-Men finally reaching a place where he can’t ignore it anymore. It’s clear that Xavier’s decision to leave his school to Cyclops drove home in a tangible way how much the professor considered his prized pupil a son, making him realize that, guilty or not, he has to make right the wrong he had a hand in perpetrating. Honestly, it gave me a sigh of relief to see Havok reach out to Cyclops, as Scott had hit a point where it seemed few people were left in his corner. Bendis plays it smart by making Havok that person who still sees the value in Scott, providing emotional catharsis for both brothers who have clashed with one another so often. The payoff is wonderful, whether you’re a casual X-Men fan or a long-time reader. And the answer as to why Scott started his mutant revolution, when pressed by both Havok and Emma for an answer, provides a bit of insight into Scott’s headspace and ultimate endgame, showing how they feed into one another.
Artist Chris Bachalo’s art is beautiful, particular the facial expressions that he’s necessarily got to bring to a story with so many chunks of character dialogue. He brings nuance to a normally unflappable Scott that makes him appear weary and not whiny. That’s something that both Bachalo and Bendis seem to really understand about Cyclops and how they create the character: He’s not whiny, he’s a world-weary man attempting to remain stoic in a harsh world, and the best Cyclops stories arise from that basic appreciation of the mutant.
Uncanny X-Men #32 provides a hint of a payoff of Cyclops stories that have been rolling on since his fall from grace in Avengers vs. X-Men. If the endgame Bendis has planned for Scott before the writer leaves the book is half as good as this issue, Scott Summers fans—and X-Men fans in general—are in for a treat.