SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Uncanny X-Men #4, by Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson, Pere Perez, Rachelle Rosenberg and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Even though they're supposed to be on the same side, Marvel's superheroes have spent a lot of time fighting each other over the past decade-plus. Disagreements between Captain America, Iron Man and Captain Marvel tore the Avengers apart in Civil War and Civil War II, and now the X-Men are on the path to experience Marvel's next major superhero conflict in Uncanny X-Men.
While Cyclops and Wolverine already split the X-Men into dueling teams 2011's X-Men: Schism, the split between those two factions has largely healed. But as Uncanny X-Men #4 makes clear, the aptly-titled "X-Men Disassembled" is setting up a generational conflict between the adult X-Men and the current generation of young X-Men.
Tensions between the two groups have been rising since two young X-Men, Anole and Oya, were recently injured in a battle with the Mutant Liberation Front in Uncanny X-Men #1. As the X-Men dealt with a growing number of crises, the adults essentially sidelined the X-kids by ordering them to stay at the X-Mansion.
When a seemingly brainwashed Magneto and the Horsemen of Salvation destroyed the X-Mansion, Armor, the young Hisako Ichiki, expands her mutant force field to protect all of the X-Men while Jean Grey and Psylocke telepathically distract Magneto and his team.
After that brief moment of signature X-Men teamwork, Jean tells the X-kids to start cleaning up the debris while the adult X-Men go save the world from Nate Grey, an Omega Level mutant telepath. When Armor stands up for her fellow teen X-Men and says that they're ready for combat, Jean tells them to stop throwing childlike tantrums and leads the adults into action.
Discouraged by this, Armor and the other X-kids turn to Legion, the ultra-powerful, highly unstable son of Professor X. Despite his troubled history with the team, he showed up on the X-Mansion's doorstep and claimed to have a plan to take down Nate Grey. After some debate, Armor and the other X-students decide to free Legion from his holding cell and help him stop Nate before he can reshape the future.
Where the adult X-Men are more focused on dealing with ongoing threats in this issue, Legion and the X-kids seem more focused on saving the future from Nate Grey's twisted vision.
While the conflict is still in its early stages, it's worth noting that Armor, Legion and the other young X-Men -- Anole, Pixie, Oya, Rockslide and Glob Herman -- are largely defined by their status as children. Armor's mutant force fields are fueled by the spirits of her ancestors, and the other X-Kids are still very much students at Xavier's School and/or X-Men trainees.
Meanwhile, Legion has almost always struggled to define himself outside of the massive shadow of his father, Professor X. This group's other X-Men sympathizer, Multiple Man, had his self-duplicating powers emerge after he was orphaned by a tornado as child and has found himself dismissed by the other X-Men more than once.
Although most of the young X-Men are backing Armor and Legion, the adult X-Men team includes a few former young X-Men like Jubilee, X-23 and Cannonball. While those three all joined the X-Men as teenagers, they've all grown into occasional leadership roles and have served numerous stints on the main X-Men team. Their presence in this story doesn't seem incidental, since they serve as examples that the established trainee-to-X-Men pipeline largely works.
The X-Men's students have revolted against their teachers before, most famously during Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "Riot at Xavier's" in New X-Men. While Glob was a member of that uprising too, Legion and the X-kids don't seem like they're simply rebelling without a cause. They appear to be channeling their rebellious impulses into trying to act like the adult heroes they think they should be and saving the future that they'll have to live in.
While it's not clear how successful the X-kids will be or how the other X-Men will respond, these young X-Men will have the chance to prove themselves as "X-Men Disassembled" roles on in the weekly Uncanny X-Men series.