Warning: This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #13, by Matthew Rosenberg, Salvador Larroca, Guru-eFX and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
The Marvel Universe isn't a very nice place for mutants right now. While that's nothing new, the state of mutant affairs has been especially grim since the arrival of a new wave of anti-mutant legislation, vaccines that prevent the birth of new mutants, and the apparent deaths of most of the X-Men.
Although most of Marvel's mutants are trapped in Age of X-Man's reality, Cyclops and Wolverine are still in the main Marvel Universe and have assembled a ragtag group of mutants that, as far as they know, could be the last X-Men team ever.
In Uncanny X-Men #13, Cyclops makes a list of all of the pending issues that face his X-Men squad. A few of the entries on that list are dedicated to solving pressing issues, like figuring out what happened to the other X-Men or curing Moonstar and Karma, two X-Men infected with the techno-organic Transmode Virus. However, most of the entries on the 31-item list are simply the names of villains who the X-Men need to deal with, once and for all.
Unsurprisingly, that list prominently features major X-villains like Magneto, Apocalypse and Mister Sinister, as well as recently-prominent bad guys like the Mutant Liberation Front. However, the list also names several obscure or deeply weird villains who've been pulled from the depths of X-Men history, including several villainous groups who were prominent for brief amounts of time.
For instance, Gene Nation, a group of young Morlocks raised in an alternate dimension, played a fairly big role in the mid-1990s, but they're essentially a footnote in the X-Men's history today. While the armored villain Orphan Maker was prominent enough to warrant an action figure in that same era, he and his cybernetic mutant-kidnapping partner Nanny haven't appeared in over a decade.
Similarly, the Neo, an isolated group of highly-evolved mutants, and the Children of the Vault, an isolated group of highly-evolved non-mutants, are included on this list, even though they've rarely appeared since the stories that introduced them.
Villainous teams like the Upstarts or Factor Three haven't been going concerns for several decades in real world time, but this list puts them on the same level as A-list X-villains like Magneto. While this might seem like a bizarre, slightly bold choice, their presence still makes sense. when you think about it
Given the way that events are condensed on a sliding timeline that keeps the Marvel Universe from getting too old, the X-Men's encounters with these foes would've happened relatively recently from their point of view. Moreover, Cyclops' willingness to include them on his list indicates that he realizes that there's a chance that any of these villains could evolve into true threats.
However, Cyclops' list still has some flaws. The presence of names like Magneto and Apocalypse, who are currently trapped in the Age of X-Man, indicates that Cyclops hasn't fully figured out what happened while he was dead. It's also not entirely clear what his ultimate goals are, since the X-Men merely take the villainous Dark Beast, a mad mutant scientist from another timeline, into custody after defeating him. Considering the inevitable breakouts that occur whenever Marvel's villains are incarcerated, that doesn't seem like a viable permanent solution.
Where Wolverine called the list a "kill-list" and Magik deemed it a "suicide pact," Cyclops maintains that it's just a list of things to set right in order to secure the X-Men's legacy. After that discussion, this issue embraces that idea of legacy in a tactile way by putting every member of this X-Men team in one of their classic costumes.
While the former New Mutants members all wear versions of their classic 1980s team uniforms, Wolverine dons his fan-favorite brown-and-yellow outfit for the first time in years. Likewise, Cyclops returns to the iconic Jim Lee-designed costume he had throughout the 1990s and on X-Men: The Animated Series, and his brother Havok wears the containment suit he had in the 2000s.
Like those costumes, Cyclops' hit list embraces several different eras of X-Men at once. While readers might not remember the X-Men's last battle with the demonic mutants of the Neyaphem as well as an iconic tale like "The Dark Phoenix Saga," those moments are still meaningful parts of the team's history. With Cyclops' list, this issue recognizes that history and acknowledges that any of those characters could still pop back up in the X-Men's future.
The adventures of Cyclops and Wolverine's team will continue in Uncanny X-Men #14, by Matthew Rosenberg and Savador Larroca, on sale March 20.