Tie-in issues to massive comic book events can be surprisingly intrusive and often feel like a detour for readers who just want to focus on the story they're currently invested in. For instance, if you've been reading Batman for thirty issues, following one cohesive story with its feet firmly planted in Gotham City, it's jarring to suddenly shift gears and read an issue where the Dark Knight is sent to another dimension to fight whatever crazy cosmic entity is out there waiting for him and the rest of the Justice League. But The War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 proves the dissonance between centralized stories and grand, sweeping epics doesn't have to be extreme; sometimes tie-in comics can bridge worlds naturally.
Uncanny X-Men recently got its groove back after the ten-issue debacle that was "X-Men: Disassembled." The title found a more cohesive voice by slimming down the primary creative team to writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Salvador Larroca, along with the X-Men roster itself. And just when things were really getting good, an event tie-in book bearing the flagship series name reared its ugly head, threatening to derail any accumulated good will.
But The War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 subverts this cynical expectation and feels right at home. If nothing else, it's a detour which does a great job of reminding us all of the connective tissue between the X-Men and Asgardian lore (i.e. the 1985 crossover X-Men: Asgardian Wars and Dani Moonstar being a Valkyrie, of course). The fact Uncanny writer, Matthew Rosenberg has penned the tie-in miniseries (this time with Pere Perez on art duty), certainly contributes to the cohesion.
The War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 is basically a really solid video game side mission, complimenting both the event series and the current Uncanny X-Men story line. The X-Men have their hands full as it is, with most of their teammates gone and all their enemies banding together. The last thing they need is to deal with is Malekith the Dark Elf waging war on Earth. Seeing a seriously wounded Cyclops lead a ragtag team of mutants against an army feels pretty natural; the X-Men have always been a superhero team whose burden they shoulder has always severely outweighed the appreciation they garner. From a story standpoint, there isn't anything surprising happening. The X-Men getting pulled into a larger conflict is par for the course at this point. There are some fun power flexes in this issue, however, as we see both Havok and Chamber let loose and deliver some devastating attacks against Malekith's subordinates.
Much like the script, the art isn't changing the game, but it is fun and easy to follow. Pere Perez's action scenes are solid and enough negative space is left to appreciate scale and depth when needed. The panels are never really crowded and the flow of the issue isn't hindered by dialogue dumps or large stretches of silent panels. It's pretty well balanced. And while seeing more dynamic page layouts or boding splash pages would have been a great, it would have detracted from the workmanlike quality of this issue -- and no, that is not a backhanded compliment. Not every comic book has to look like an experimental David Mack or Bill Sienkiewicz book (but how cool would it be if they did?)
The War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 could have really be detrimental to the main flagship X-Men title by introducing a ton of new plot threads, but thankfully it never does. There is enough connective tissue to keep things under the same roof without feeling forced. With solid art and a confident script, this issue works for fans of the War of the Realms event so far and for readers who have been enjoying Uncanny X-Men for the last half dozen issues.