When viewed on its own, Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo’s “Uncanny X-Men” #4 is a good comic — but when viewed in tandem with Bendis and Stuart Immonen’s “All-New X-Men” #10, it becomes a very, very good comic. “Uncanny X-Men” #4 is basically everything that happened between the panels of “All-New X-Men” #10 (plus some other cool stuff). If you’re at all interested in Emma Frost, this becomes a fascinating character issue and a really cool experiment.
While both comics stand easily on their own, they’re made stronger combined as a whole. While “All-New X-Men” #10 is a very standard approach to a typical superhero comic “Uncanny X-Men” is atypical and thus fascinating. Half of the issue is simply the light-hearted misadventures of the mutant student recruits of the New Xavier School left home alone to explore their new digs. It’s fun and cute, and a nice mini-exploration of the new young mutants. However, the other half of the issue delves into what is going on (and more pointedly what is not going on) inside the mind of Emma Frost, and even more deliciously, the minds of her Cuckoos (Celeste, Mindee, and Phoebe). Bendis still hasn’t fully mastered Emma’s voice, but the reveals here are layered, fascinating and present a lot of room for growth and change for the character.
Another bonus for readers of “All-New X-Men” is the cliff-hanger ending is revealed, showing the character that defects to the New Xavier School may not be the one you expected (it certainly wasn’t the one I expected). Surprises like that are too rare in comics not to be appreciated.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bendis and Bachalo begin to explore what’s going on with Magik, and it does not look like it’s going to be pretty. Exploration of Illyana is something long overdue and full of potential, but the creative team seems not only up to the task, but enthusiastic.
Bachalo and his bevy of talented inkers continue to deliver one of the best looking books around. Creatively fascinating, beautifully executed and just slammed with detail in every nook and cranny while somehow simultaneously feeling effortlessly clean, this book has style to spare. Bachalo lays his pages out with gorgeous consideration, embracing double page spreads and experimenting with tilting pages that threaten to spill all of their frenetic energy off onto into your hands. He compliments his art with some experimental retro zipitone, solid colors and lack of color, and it all just works. The net effect is engaging and all around stunning.
“Uncanny X-Men” started off as the weaker of the new X-titles, despite Bachalo’s stunning visuals, but this issue is a game changer. It suggests hidden depths and grand plans, all of which have epic potential for both exceptional character work and pure fun superhero stories.