WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #11 by Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, Rachelle Rosenberg, John, McCrea, Mike Spicer, Juanan Ramirez and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Heartfelt reunions always make for great moments in X-Men comics. When readers discovered Colossus was still alive in the pages of Astonishing X-Men, they felt Kitty Pryde’s shock and disbelief become their own. It was a touching scene between two former lovers who thought they would never see each other again, and it resonated with fans and critics alike.
The fact that Kitty and Peter’s reunion didn't last doesn't really matter in hindsight. The emotional weight of them reconnecting, no matter how fleeting the moment turned out to be, was what stands out more than anything that came after.
Not all mutant reunions are between lovers, of course. Sometimes they occur between long-lost friends, or rivals who share a mutual admiration. Both labels ring true for a reunion found in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #11, in which two recently resurrected X-Men, Cyclops and Wolverine, are brought back together for the first time since their respective deaths.
The manner in which writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Salvador Larroca execute this is pitch perfect in the context of Scott and Logan’s tumultuous relationship.
It can be tough to convey decades of complicated friendship in a handful of panels. If anything, it's easy for a creator to have two characters simply shout their emotions at each other, putting their beef on Main Street to act as Cliff Notes for new readers and lapsed fans who may not have been keeping up with the current state of X-Men comics.
Instead, Rosenberg and Larroca convey the complex emotions between Wolverine and Cyclops through the lens of reactionary snippets of dialogue and faith in fan knowledge… oh, and a healthy dose of violence. After all, these two are brothers in arms, despite their differences.
Throughout the various mediums the X-Men have been adapted to, the antagonistic relationship between Scott Summers and Logan has always carried over. Whether it's X-Men: The Animated Series or the live-action films, these two men have been rivals (usually fighting over the admiration of a certain someone) across the board.
In Uncanny X-Men #11, Scott scrambles to find any surviving X-Men who would stand by him and against the world at large. He sends out what is essentially a distress call for anyone listening to meet him at the site where Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters once stood.
Instead of a warm response, Scott is met with an ambush consisting of a who’s who of X-Men villains. Outnumbered and with no one else to turn to, Cyclops is left to stand against the Reavers, the Purifiers and the Sapien League by himself. Before the first optic blast is loosed against the gallery of aggressors, though, that iconic "snikt" slashes across the page and it is quickly revealed that Slim is not alone.
The battle that ensues is what we've been waiting to see in Uncanny X-Men since it relaunched: Classic team members going up against fringe groups who just won't stay dead. Now, with the bulk of the X-Men gone after the insane (and frustrating) 10-issue story arc "X-Men: Disassembled," arguably the two most iconic mutants to ever put on a costume are fighting back to back for the first time in years.
There is no malice or strife. There are no hurt feelings or malcontent. There's just two men who want the same thing and are forced to rage against throngs of people who would love nothing more than to eradicate our heroes and their entire species.
After heaps of dismembered and singed villains are strew across the snowy grounds of the former X-Mansion, and those who could still stand have run away from the fight, Cyclops and Wolverine share a quiet moment, acknowledging each other's presence, and move on to follow through with their mission.
There is a panel in which these two stare at one another in silence. The things they don't say could fill tomes. But they don't need to speak. The current state of mutants in the world is a problem much larger than their personal grievances.
It's this sort of understanding between characters that make the X-Men such a compelling collection of heroes. It's not their exploits or adventures that keep us coming back (sure they draw us in), but it's their history that makes them icons. Of course, all that action doesn't hurt either.