Uncanny X-Men went through a rough patch for a few months. Writer Matthew Rosenberg seemed to have no direction. There was plenty of infighting and way too much death, but little else. Reading each new issue was a who’s who of dead mutants with no clear outcome in sight. The last issue of Uncanny seemed to right the ship, but was it an exception to the rule or will Rosenberg’s short run end on a positive note?
Uncanny #21 brings something to the book that has not been around in a while. The issue is filled with tension. From the opening infiltration, to Magik’s aggressive attitude, up until the startling conclusion, the story will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The mood has been so dark in Uncanny the last few issues that turning the page has become scary. It is good to see an issue that has the reader thinking the book ended too soon.
The action is also perfectly paced. There are a few big battles that take place in the issue. Each one is given time to sink in. This is not another issue that is a series of big fights. Each fight is given space to breathe. The ramifications are allowed to sink in more. Instead of wondering who is going to die this time, the reader gets caught up in the battles themselves. This provides much more enjoyment.
Interspersed between the fight scenes are moments of plot progression. Events that have been playing out for months are being explained. The melodramatic infighting has been replaced by differences of opinion. Scenes involving Emma Frost are particularly good. She explains what she has done without a hint of regret or apology. It is great to see a character who takes full accountability for their actions without any remorse.
For all the good done in Uncanny # 21, some things remain the same. One event in particular has become synonymous with Rosenberg’s Uncanny run. It is unfortunate that it continues in issue twenty-one, but there is a silver lining. There was slightly more feeling associated with death. It has been hard to care about any death in Uncanny for months, but this issue manages to affect the reader. Before it seemed liked Rosenberg knew he was leaving and did not care; here everything seems to be leading to something.
Salvador Larroca’s art goes from being blase to looking really good. There are some panels in which characters are detailed and filled with emotion. An early scene involving a doctor and a mutant with the ability to heal is has some stand out moments. The fight scenes in the issue also look really great. There is a real sense of danger behind the drawings.
Emma is prominent in the issue and is therefore seen often. There seems to be more attention given to her in the later pages of Uncanny #21, but even early the leader of the Hellfire Club possess a majesty about her. Her presence commands each scene she is in. The last page is a particularly powerful on that effectively exudes just how strong of a character Emma Frost is.
Uncanny X-Men #21 continues to improve on last month’s already strong issue. It is good to see a more focused story. Moments that seemed pointless and even insulting in previous issues now have more meaning. The characters are also allowed to be more than caricatures with Emma Frost in particular being the star of the issue. Hopefully, this strong storytelling will continue over into Rosenberg’s final issue.