As “Uncanny X-Men” continues to wind down, Brian Michael Bendis and Kris Anka wrap up some loose ends — or at least loose characters, as we see where they end up with the dissolution of Cyclops’ renegade X-Men team. “Uncanny X-Men” #33 follows Kitty Pryde and Illyana Rasputin as the duo find themselves on Monster Island, looking for a new mutant while dealing with some personal issues.
Ultimately, “Uncanny X-Men” #33 sums up a lot of the problems with this iteration of the series in general; it sounds good in concept but, in the actual execution, it’s a bit lacking in any real substance. I applaud an issue of the comic that’s primarily character driven, for example, but there’s precious little in the conversations between Kitty and Illyana. This is frustrating on multiple levels; these are characters who were best of friends but separated for quite some time due to deaths, imprisonments and being on different teams. An issue with just the two of them working through problems should be gold, but instead “Uncanny X-Men” #33 just drags from start to finish. Part of the problem is almost certainly that the two don’t actually have any real issues to discuss, but also because this feels like an incredibly low-stakes comic. I’m not talking about there being a lack of the world about to end but, rather, it doesn’t feel like any of this really matters. The characters were already getting along, a character we’ve never seen before is introduced (and will probably never seen again since this version of the series is about to conclude) and, on the whole, everything just plods along.
Anka’s art is where “Uncanny X-Men” #33 does work. I think these are the best interiors from Anka that I’ve seen yet. They’re very soft and carefully rendered, and he’s able to handle Illyana walloping huge monsters just as easily as a big rainstorm or the adorable Bo looking all scuffed and abandoned. The edges on characters are soft, but there’s still a strong sense of form about them; look at how Kitty’s hair is pulled back except for one lock on the side as she kneels down to talk to Bo, for example. It all flows perfectly and distinctly, while still giving rounded and gentle inks. Similarly in that scene, Anka works well with Antonio Fabela to make the various colored energy ribbons look almost like miniature fireworks caught in mid-explosion; they’re visually interesting and grab your attention quickly.
This series of “Uncanny X-Men” has had a rocky path, with just as many lows as there were highs. “Uncanny X-Men” #33, in many ways, gets to the heart of the series’ problem: there was never quite enough material to maintain it alongside all of the other X-Men titles. It means well and it sounds good as a story pitch but, in the end, “Uncanny X-Men” #33 isn’t a full issue’s worth of material. It’s pretty and it’s nice that things are wrapping up, but this could have moved faster without losing a thing.