The All-New, All-Different Marvel relaunch was supposed to begin after the conclusion of “Secret Wars,” which in turn was scheduled to start after the final issues of the “Marvel Now” titles, among them “Uncanny X-Men” #600. As it turns out, all three are being published concurrently, but a little scheduling snafu doesn’t stop Brian Michael Bendis from finishing off his run in a low-key but satisfying way, even if it takes over a dozen artists to do so. Bendis takes thirty-six pages to wrap up the events from both of his X-Men titles, and — although it features the entirety of his mutant cast — there are no action-packed battle sequences or continuity-altering events; instead, he focuses on selected characters and sends them off into the proverbial mutant sunset, nevermind that all of it may have been rendered moot by the final multiversal incursion that kicked off “Secret Wars.”
Bendis structures the story to switch between the team confronting the actions of one of their own and some of the separate events in the moments leading up to it. While the confrontation falls victim to an overly long decompression, its duration is masked somewhat by shifting to its various flashbacks. One such flashback (albeit only twenty minutes earlier) features Bobby Drake having a heart-to-heart talk with himself — that is, his past self and his current one — about his sexuality. The scene is the culmination of Bendis’ subplot where younger Bobby realizes he’s gay, much to the dismay of his older self, who has kept this part of himself hidden all of these years. The curious dynamic of a younger Bobby, who hails from a more repressive social era, being the more open of the two works well here in shaping the personality of his current incarnation.
Bendis also breaks away to thaw out the relationship between Piotr and Illyana Rasputin, reinstating the bond the siblings once shared that has long been absent from the franchise. Another scene features the original X-Men pondering their future, not to mention their present. The team makes a somewhat surprising decision before Bendis focuses on two of them and their own unexplored feelings. The final page of the sequence is beautifully laid out by Stuart Immonen and bleeds with romantic tension. Disappointingly, though, Bendis chooses not to address or resolve the team’s ongoing time travel problem, although it may have been rendered moot by the final multiversal incursion anyway.
There is a resolution of sorts to the series’ ongoing plot revolving Cyclops movement to lead a mutant revolution, which — while a little too simple — has a sort of feel-good vibe that stands nicely against the usual mutant/human skirmishes and conflicts. The arrival of Magneto is gorgeously composed by Chris Bachalo and its foreboding appearance gives way to a surprising if convenient pivotal moment; the moment is also strikingly colored. Cyclops’ mutant revolution has come to an end, at least for now.
The roster of artists delivers a surprisingly consistent look to the entirety of the story, while also staying true to the look of both “All-New X-Men” and “Uncanny X-Men.” The shifting scenes help soften the potentially bumpy switch between artists, and the all-star lineup includes most — if not all — of the pencillers and inkers who have touched the franchise over the past few years: Sara Pichelli, Mahmud Asrar, Stuart Immonen, Kris Anka, Chris Bachalo, David Marquez, Frazer Irving, Wade Von Grawbadger, Tim Townsend and Mark Irwin. The issue is rounded out with an odd choice of backups, namely a reprint of a mediocre black-and-white Iceman story from 1981 by Jo Duffy, George Perez and Alfredo Alcala. Its inclusion only seems relevant for its now-ironic and unintended allusions to Bobby’s true sexuality — and his thoughts about Warren Worthington, in particular — but its point is otherwise moot without the benefit of a multiversal incursion.
“Uncanny X-Men” #600 isn’t the grand finale it could have been, but — as a moderately refreshing alternative to a lot of fists and explosions — it’s still a pretty strong one.