Boy, is it a good thing Uncanny X-Men is on a weekly release schedule because having a month pass by between issues would probably have fans forget certain plot threads. Two issues in, and the relaunch of one of Marvel Comics' biggest flagship titles remains frantic to the point of being sloppy, featuring so many characters their head shots would fill a yearbook page (which it literally does in the introduction of each issue). But, Uncanny X-Men #2 leans into its own mania and starts to have a lot of fun, which is the books' saving grace.
In a vacuum, some of the individual action sequences in this issue are fantastic. There is a scene in which dinosaurs are rampaging across Montana (you know, that old chestnut) and Laura Kinney (nee Wolverine) gets up close and personal with a Tyrannosaurs Rex. The outcome of this encounter is hilarious, disgusting and familiar in the same way that old baseball mitt your mom found in the attic with some of your old stuff and now she won't stop calling you to come pick it up...or something like that. We also get several fantastic panels of the X-Men punching through literally torrential waves of Multiple Man dupes, moments that look more like scenes from a zombie apocalypse book than they do a superhero comic.
While there are still way too many plot threads all vying for the reader's attention, moments like these really dial things up in a good way. The fact that the art is by none other than the dynamic duo of R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto (X-Men: Gold) with wonderful colors from Rachelle Rosenberg certainly helps in this regards. The action sequences are clean and flow nicely even with myriad word balloons obstructing them. All three of these artists have worked on X-books before, and much of the cast are characters they've drawn, inked and colored previously, so all of them feel right at home, which is nice to see.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, Uncanny X-Men has been gorgeous, but the meat of the book still feels like filler. Exciting filler, mind you, but still filler. In fact, reading Uncanny X-Men #2 transported back to the year 1991 (come with us, won't you). We remember getting our grubby little eight year old mitts on a copy of X-Men#1 and being in awe of the glorious Jim Lee work filling the pages and that awesome gatefold cover, but you know what we don't remember?...what the hell "Mutant Genesis" was about. And we fear that these early Uncanny X-Men issues may suffer a similar fate (but without the record-breaking sales numbers).
Now, Uncanny X-Men #2 is by no means bad. In fact, it's quite enjoyable; those little aforementioned action moments are wonderful and the commentary on them from characters like Jean Grey and Bishop are funny and very natural. However, we're also reminded why the X-Men were split up into teams in the '90s. It feels like there are three really solid X-books between the covers of Uncanny X-Men. There's a fantastic New Mutants-style tale featuring Armor, Rockslide, Pixie and the rest happening that just isn't able to grow since its confined to a handful of pages each issue. All the Jean Grey moments feel like they're from the pages of X-Men: Red (which is already fantastic, and honestly should just drop the Red suffix to become the flagship X-title). The rest of the story feels like should populate its own comic.
When developing new jumping on points in X-Men comics, it's wise to keep the roster tight and story fresh while also honoring long standing plot threads from years before. This bridges the gap between newbies and old fans who have been entrenched in this comic soap opera for decades. Sadly, Uncanny X-Men has yet to find that harmony... but it's still too good to drop completely. In fact, the final page of Uncanny X-Men #2 has us wishing it was next Wednesday already. The second issue is much better (and tighter) than the series' debut, but it's still a bit of a mess. That said, we're in for the long haul, eager to see how these amazing comic writers and artists clean it up. Hopefully by the end of this ten-issue weekly story we'll be eating crow (or, should we say, Blackbird?).