X-Men books in general have been a messy bore, and it seems like forever since the last noteworthy mutant story. Which is a big swing-and-a-miss considering at the center of all things Marvel right now are the Inhumans. The very thing that makes Inhumans, the Terrigen Mists, is sweeping the globe in the form of a cloud; a cloud that’s lethal to any mutant it passes over. One would think that there would be plenty of story potential in that premise alone, but here we are with a handful of X-Men teams and not one of them glorious. Not counting Old Man Logan (that series is brilliant), Uncanny X-Men is probably the strongest of the X-books right now; which is saying it’s the strongest selection in a pile of underwhelming choices.
Uncanny X-Men #9 picks up with this team of five still separated into two groups on separate missions. Magneto and Psylocke went off to follow a lead on their missing comrade Angel, where they uncovered a sinister plot by the son of Apocalypse, Genocide. Sabretooth and Monet were lured into Morlock territory underground by Monet’s evil brother, Emplate. Psylocke thinks she has been betrayed by Magneto when Fantomex shows up and kicks her butt, but really he’s there as back-up at the request of Magneto. The “Master Of Magnetism” called upon Mystique for support as well, she helps Mags escape the power-dampening shackles that Genocide placed him in.
Together they find Angel, who is having his regrown wings cut out of his back in order to be harvested for a whole army of Angels. Meanwhile, Emplate has been feeding on mutants to prevent himself from being sucked into another world. After Sabretooth and Callisto get knocked out, Monet saves her brother’s life by letting him feed on her. She also proposes a deal to her brother that would keep him from feeding on the small amount of mutants left on Earth, volunteering herself as his personal feed bag. All of this ends with the army of Archangel’s somehow awakening and beginning their mission to weed out the weak among humanity and bring about the apocalypse.
Uncanny X-Men #9 is the ultimate X-Men example of beating a dead horse; all the compelling Archangel stories have been told already. I understand Cullen Bunn was probably tasked with tying into the X-Men: Apocalypse movie that came out a month ago, but this “Apocalypse Wars” has been a unfortunate waste of mutants. Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run a few years ago already gave us the best version of whatever this event Marvel is half-ass trying to sell us – especially this story involving Archangel. Bunn is a fine writer, but his talents are being wasted on this book right now (unless it was all HIS idea).
That also goes for the talent across all of the current X-Men titles: this movie tie-in event needs to end so everyone can move on and get back to the great characters they’ve been given. The previous eight issues were by no means epic X-Men stories, but they were at least a cut above the other titles. That was due to Magneto being a captivating character as always, and the arc of Sabretooth’s obscure attempt at redemption. This issue specifically features absolutely neither of those two elements and comes up extremely short because of it.
The only saving grace of Uncanny X-Men #9 is the artwork from Ken Lashley and Nolan Woodward, as it maintains the style readers come to expect from an X-Men comic, unlike the story. Both adventures being had by the two separated groups are taking place in very dark and dramatic environments, however, the pages explode with color as an X-Men comic book always should. It’s another example of talents being wasted as the effort going into these panels should be given a story just as compelling. Both Genocide and Emplate look really cool and intricate despite not being given much drama to dish out, and the background choices in the fight scenes underground stand out as particularly beautiful chaos.
This was the worst entry of the best series of an overall lackluster group of X-Men comic books, but there is hope for out favorite mutants. Once this “Apocalypse Wars” nonsense is over and the writers no longer have a gun to their heads, hopefully readers will be treated well for their loyalty to those who carry the X-gene. If I weren’t already heavily invested in this force-fed affair to tie into a mediocre movie, I would have skipped this event entirely.