“Uncanny X-Men” #11 by Kieron Killen and Greg Land is suffering from the same event tie-in fatigue that a lot of the Avengers and X-Men books are, where the stories don’t have much of a plot and also overlap with what we’ve already seen in other books. How many more times will I have to see the scene of Cyclops shooting Captain America on the shores of Utopia? This moment is just not epic enough to warrant seeing it from multiple points of view, as these books are demanding.
Gillen is a smart and careful writer and I have enjoyed a lot of his “Uncanny X-Men” run. He’s particularly good when dealing with characters like Abigail Brand and Unit and we get a little of that here, but mostly this issue is a whole lot of nothing as Gillen has to add unnecessary padding around the Cyclops/Captain America moment, then fill pages with a pointless Red Hulk versus Colossus/Juggernaut throw down. The “Avengers Vs. X-Men” 6-issue mini-series would make a lot more sense and be a lot more enjoyable, even as nothing more than fan favorite throw downs, if the larger series itself was going deeper than your basic “who would win” battles. However, I’ve yet to see that deeper meaning in this event crossover, and it’s terribly disappointing.
Gillen gets one great moment at the end of this issue with Cyclops’ pre-planed “Avengers Protocol” which is…a press release. It might seem silly, but in this world of public opinion and 24-hour news cycles, I think it’s probably not an unrealistic plot twist and it has the potential to be interesting. It also continues to set Cyclops up as the “Batman of the Marvel Universe”: the one guy with a plan for every possible eventuality, no matter how grim. It could be an interesting direction, if we get the chance to see it play out further.
Land’s art is what we have come to expect at this point — stiff and emotionless. It never finds any spark or soul, and is almost entirely free of storytelling or acting. At best, it’s a series of overly posed shots that occasionally look like a character is supposed to look. As always, Land’s Emma Frost is reasonably good, but all the other women look like versions of Emma with different colored hair. It’s particularly egregious when it comes to Hope — who is supposed to be a young teenaged girl.
There are, of course, one-off panels that are quite beautiful, but even then they have a posed stiffness that is completely counter to what the medium should be about. The underwater scenes between Colossus/Juggernaut and Red Hulk are indicated as being underwater entirely by random bubbles and a greenish background. There is no attempt to understand the change in a character’s coloring or lighting if one was underwater, or even something so simple as how clothing or hair might move, let alone how your expression might change if you were battling on the ocean floor. It’s lazy work and could perhaps be forgiven if the fight between Colossus/Juggernaut and Red Hulk was particularly interesting, but it’s not that either. Gillen deserves a better artist and, quite frankly, so do the X-Men.
With a writer as strong as Gillen at the helm, I hoped “Uncanny X-Men” could rise above the paper-thin concept I’m seeing thus far from the “Avengers Vs. X-Men” event, but it doesn’t manage it.