“Uncanny X-Men” #3 by Brian Bendis and Chris Bachalo continues the story of Cyclops’ pseudo-revolutionary team of outlaws as the team travels to Australia — but more importantly, it’s the first post-“AvX” meeting of Cyclops and Captain America.
Although the book got off to a slower start than the superb “All-New X-Men,” it feels as though things are turning around a little bit with this issue — everything from Emma’s slightly more refined voice to a story that finally pursues a more logical progression. The precise nature of Cyclops’ “mutant revolution” is still vague, but the team is out there, helping mutants and positioning itself as the counter-culture alternative to the Avengers. That’s not a bad position for the X-Men to be in, whether you look at the Marvel Universe or comics fandom generally.
If Bendis’ writing is improving, Bachalo’s art is as consistent as ever. His style, currently, is a fusion of what made his work great in the ’90s and hard to read in the ’00s. His, stylized, expressive figures are packed with attitude, and his panel layouts are interesting and considered. Cyclops’ redesign still doesn’t really work, and the coloring is muted to the point of being almost monochromatic (indeed, quite literally sometimes) but they do at least give the title a distinctive appearance, which is never a bad thing for a comic.
One of the most interesting things about the book at the moment is actually displayed in this issue when it’s shown that Eva, the mutant with the power to stop time locally, is potentially incredibly powerful. We’re not directly invited to wonder whether Cyclops should have access to such power in his current condition, but it’s hard not to ask the question when you see what he does with it at the end of the issue.
Bendis also takes some time to tease out his subplots, too, which is unusual — typically his subplots appear very infrequently and without much prominence, but here the issue of the team’s mole and their broken powers comes to the fore for the third issue in a row. It’s not like “All New X-Men” (which seems to be all subplot at the moment) but it is a different and arguably more traditional approach to the material than the one he took in his years on “Avengers” and “New Avengers”.
It might only be the second best X-Men title Bendis is writing, but this issue, with its emphasis on the mutant political situation and Cyclops’ current ethos suggests that there’s a lot of potential in Bendis’ take on the characters and their situation. “Uncanny X-Men” #3 is a definite improvement over earlier issues, and hopefully one that marks the beginning of an upward trend.