When a major comic book event like Inhumans Vs. X-Men comes along, some writers may feel creatively stifled as their regular storylines take a backseat to the crossover of the moment. Uncanny X-Men writer Cullen Bunn definitely isn’t one of these storytellers, as he’s had no trouble using IVX to explore the complexities of war.
Uncanny X-Men #18 (Marvel Comics)
Overall, Bunn’s Uncanny run has been a bit hit-or-miss for me. A big part of the problem is the cast of characters. I guess I’m something of an X-Men traditionalist, still clinging to a time when Uncanny X-Men was the mutants’ flagship book. Either way, Sabretooth, M and Fantomex have never been favorites, and X-regulars like Archangel haven’t received nearly enough attention in this series.
With all that said, I still loved Uncanny X-Men #17, so I had high hopes going into this issue. Although it seemed like last month’s story involving Sabretooth and M in Limbo would continue in February, that is not the case. This issue’s cover also has nothing to do with the story told in its pages. Instead, Bunn and artist Edgar Salazar deliver a done-in-one tale about the X-Men’s occupation of New Attilan.
Xorn, Archangel and Sebastian Shaw – three characters Bunn has used throughout his run – serve as the Inhumans’ wardens. It’s an interesting story that – along with last week’s IVX #4, among other recent comics – makes readers question which species they should be rooting for in this war.
Bunn is smart to pair the more thoughtful Xorn with the morally dubious Shaw to juxtapose the different ways of viewing the X-Men’s current predicament.
“Do you think the Inhumans will ever regain their own sense of safety now that they have seen how quickly it can be ripped away from them?” Xorn asks.
“I could not care less how the Inhumans feel,” Shaw responds, pointing out that Mutants suffered for months while Inhumans thrived.I’m genuinely curious to know Bunn and his fellow Marvel writers’ true views on the IVX event. It was always going to be hard for creators to redeem Cyclops after he killed Professor X, but now it seems like all of the X-Men have dirt on their hands – the Inhumans too. Marvel really needs to get back to letting their heroes be heroes.
Helping Xorn maintain order are the Sleepers, mutant characters Bunn introduced earlier in his run, who end up battling a group of Inhumans led by Ren (another Bunn creation, introduced in his Fearless Defenders series). Similar to Bunn’s recent Uncanny X-Men annual, this is a story about the dark side of mutants’ powers.
Salazar’s hyper-detailed art keeps the visuals consistent with what we’ve come to expect from this series. This has been an interesting book on the artistic front, as the non-Greg Land pencils have been very 90’s, in my opinion. Perhaps this has been intentional, as Bunn has played with so many X-characters from this era, from Exodus to the Nasty Boys.
While it’s nice to see a writer using Xorn (who can’t help but be confusing due to his convoluted Marvel history), I wish Bunn had given Archangel more time to shine this month. I feel like there’s still so much we don’t know about the current iteration of Warren Worthington III. Hopefully, he’ll receive the attention he deserves following all the IVX craziness.