The previous issue of Uncanny X-Men gave readers a lot to unpack. A literal Cyclops, a helpful Dark Beast, and a whole lot of internal tension were just some of the things the book touched on. Of course, in a world where there are few mutants while hate for them is as high as it ever was, it would only make sense that things would occasionally get a little exciting. But things have to slow down at some point, right?
Uncanny X-Men #16 picks up right where the previous issue had thematically. The team is still dealing with some serious trust issues. And if the team cannot trust each other, then it should come as no surprise that they would have trouble trusting outsiders, even ones that are as well known as Captain America. The opening exchange between Cap and Cyclops perfectly illustrates how careful Scott Summers is being. He still makes it clear during the conversation that he is putting a lot more trust in Captain America than the longtime Avenger realizes.
What the exchange also illustrates how much dissension is in the team. This is not just a matter of sibling jealousy; it’s a case where many members of the X-Men are wondering if the course of action they are taking is the correct one. This leads directly into another exchange involving the Summers brothers. While the moment is very cliched, it does a great job of explaining why Cyclops is making certain decisions. It also clarifies Havok’s motivations in questioning his brother.
This segues into what may be the most controversial moment of issue sixteen. Uncanny X-Men has been foreshadowing that something was going to happen involving the team’s leadership. There was too much tension and infighting for there to be no resolution. Whether it was going to be a strongly worded letter or a knock-down, drag-out brawl, leadership was going to be a point of contention. The subject is finally addressed here and for some people it will make perfect sense. Other people will probably be disappointed to see what Matthew Rosenberg has done. Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens.
Rosenberg writes some very emotional moments during the sixteenth issue. Whereas last issue was a tense affair that dealt with trust, this one is more about self-discovery. There are some strong scenes in the book involving Cyclops, Wolverine, and Wolfsbane. The scene involving Rahne Sinclair is especially touching. It does a wonderful job of explaining the current state of the team while also showing that some members are still confused. X-Men books are sometimes guilty of being too melodramatic, but Rosenberg handles the moment perfectly.
Exposition may be the biggest problem with Uncanny #16 — there is just so much of it. At first, the issue just seems like any other. Once the final conflict begins, it is as if all anyone wants to do is talk. These are not just quick one liners, either. They are long, drawn out paragraphs that cover the page. Rosenberg is trying to tell a story and nothing seems out of place. It’s just a lot to take in, even for an X-Men comic.
Salvador Larroca does some great work in the issue. There is a creative scene involving a Cyclops monologue that is well done. The battle scenes are fantastic and some character introductions look suitably magnificent. Larroca also does a wonderful job of making characters look very human doing the issue’s more emotional moments. These scenes look more impressive than the fights.
Uncanny X-Men #16 is an action-packed issue that deals more with finding oneself than with any external struggle. There are fights to be won, but the book is more about internal conflict. The story may get a little wordy for some towards the end, but it’s a fun read.