There's an interesting story lurking within Cullen Bunn and Ken Lashley's "Uncanny X-Men," the series' latest contribution to the "Apocalypse Wars" event. At the same time, though, it feels like it's not big enough to fill the amount of issues allocated for it. At the end of "Uncanny X-Men" #8, it feels like the amount of plot progression should have been just a few pages, not an entire issue.
There are two plots moving through "Uncanny X-Men" #8. One involves Monet and Sabretooth coming to help the Morlocks, only to discover that they're now punching bags for Monet's brother Emplate. The other finds Psylocke cornered by Fantomex as she tries to find the kidnapped Magneto, while Genocide continues to try and use Warren for his own purposes. Those two threads should be more than enough to fill up a book, but it's remarkable how little happens here.
Let's take the Morlock storyline, for example. At the start of the issue, the Emplate-transformed Morlocks tell Monet how glad they are that she's there, because Emplate needs her help. For the rest of the issue, Monet and Sabretooth's role is to fight off transformed Morlocks, before they finally find Emplate himself -- and there, the big cliffhanger is that he needs her help. There's nothing new presented in all of those pages, save for moving our heroes into the same room as Emplate. This should have taken two pages at most. The frustrating thing is that there's potential for a good story to come out of this; the idea that Emplate attacks people so that he doesn't drift off into another dimension has an interesting hook in it, one that's never really been exploited beyond making him a slavering villain. Bunn makes this admittedly vicious character feel sympathetic as he fights to survive. It's just a pity that it's moving so slowly.
Similarly, Psylocke's story moves her out of her cell, only to spend almost the entire issue confronting Fantomex. While the two characters do have a history together, it's worth noting that it all happened in an entirely different comic series. As a result, the pair rehash it ad nauseam while fighting one another. The more interesting part of this storyline -- having both Warren and Archangel existing independently -- really goes nowhere this month. Again, this story feels like something that should have been no more than a couple of pages.
Lashley's art continues to be quite variable. When we see both Emplate and Genocide's labs, each of those images are supposed to have mutated, rough-skinned creatures inside of them, but the main characters seem to share this same jagged characteristic. There are some nice art moments here and there, like how Lashley draws Psylocke's old "butterfly effect" when she's using her telepathic powers; it's a callback to what we've seen before, but it looks dangerous at the same time. On the other hand, some characters' limbs seem a little too gangly, and there's a real lack of backgrounds through the majority of this issue.
"Uncanny X-Men" #8 is the sort of comic that sounds better in concept. There's something at the heart of this book which holds a lot of promise, but we're just not quite getting it yet. Maybe Bunn and Lashley will pick up the pace in future chapters, but -- right now -- it's a little too sluggish for its own good.