The plot of “Uncanny X-Men” #9 feels like a convenient set-up to justify the teaming of Cyclops’ Extinction Team with the Avengers as an other-worldly threat descends upon Earth without warning. The theme of the issue itself focuses on imprisonment and the necessity of making difficult, unpleasant decisions. Surprisingly, in his own title, Cyclops is painted by Kieron Gillen as an extremist and doubts are thrown into the faith of any reader who considers themselves part of Team X-Men in the upcoming crossover.
The pacing of “Uncanny X-Men” #9 is choppy compared to the previous eight issues. Within, there are two distinct acts: one slow and introspective and one fast and action-packed, both of which suffer due to the inclusion of the other half. Beginning with a much more relaxed pace than we’ve grown accustomed to with the proactive nature of the titular team, the theme of imprisonment is played out through personal insights from characters on how to deal with extinction-level threats. From there, we are thrown into a climactic montage of action and violence, the problem being that the expedited thrust of plot leaves little time for any drama or gravitas to resonate.
“Uncanny X-Men” #9 covers a lot of ground, so much that it’s difficult to blame Gillen for the muddled pace. Departing from the story the book has told for eight issues to shoehorn The Avengers into the mix makes the issue feel more like an “AvX” tie-in than an “Uncanny X-Men” comic. Carlos Pacheco’s art is up to the task, as usual, even if the gratuitous shots of Emma Frost & Abigail Brand’s ample bosoms come across more humorous than intended. Still, during the latter half of the issue when action is coming across swift and furiously, Pacheco doesn’t waver and the same impressive level of detail is proffered panel to panel.
Surely, “Uncanny X-Men” #9 is an issue better served separated into two parts. The rich possibility of interactions between Avengers and Extinction characters is left by the wayside, as each particular pairing of heroes is relegated to a single panel of exploration. Unfortunately, as the issue seems a heavy-handed excuse to team up both franchises, the matter is not resolved by the close of the issue; in this sense, the motivation of “AvX” becomes muddled, as characters are introduced who will apparently affect Hope and the trials she’ll face during the event. Issue #9 falls victim to the event-centric editorial mandate germane to working in the Big Two, but it’s no reason to doubt the quality of “AvX” itself.
One intriguing aspect of “Uncanny X-Men” #9 is the portrayal of Cyclops: where he has appeared the confident and capable leader in the previous eight issues, the dialogue from both Emma and Scott seems to suggest he’s becoming involved in his role to the point of psychosis. The calm down period of the first half of issue #9 doesn’t sit well with Scott, as he seems listless without an Extinction-level event to pursue. Scott is presented as a tightly-wound spring kept under constant pressure, which is perhaps the most intriguing element of the “AvX” setting going forward; as readers, we know what to expect from Captain America, as he has commanded this much power for quite some time. The reaction from a suddenly-capable Scott Summers is left much more to our imaginations. To their credit, the team of “Uncanny X-Men” keeps us guessing about Scott’s upcoming role throughout issue #9 and leaves us wanting to discover more about his role as leader in “AvX.”