Uncanny X-Men #11
Uncanny X-Men
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciller: Greg Land

Since the relaunch of this title as part of the Regenesis event, Kieron Gillen's Uncanny X-Men has moved along at breakneck speed. And while that trend continues here with heavy action, the focus is shifted to a more to several characters on the Extinction Team, and where their heads are at as they go to war with the Avengers.

Gillen really gets the characters he picked for this title. More so than the rapid fire action and plot twists of previous arcs would suggest. However in one issue, he takes us inside the heads of multiple characters and reveals why they are willing to take up arms against the darlings of the super hero set that are the Avengers. Seeing some of the battles from Avengers vs X-Men #2 from within the headspace of several of the players adds a greater weight to the proceedings and a relevance to an issue that might have just retread story beats otherwise.

Gillen portrays Namor as the confident monarch perfectly assured his course is the correct one. Above all else Namor respects ballsiness, and as the leader of a people that were almost persecuted to extinction he of course will stand with his other people against the Avengers who represent the status quo that has often been his enemy.

Colossus is barely holding on right now. The power of the Juggernaut has overwhelmed him a few times already, and it takes everything he can not to give into his destructive urges. His gentle artist's soul has now come to see wanton carnage as the most pure and beautiful form of artistic expression. Because of this he chooses, the rigid and strict role of the soldier. He follows Cyclops not just because he trusts him, but because right now he is a weapon, and all of his free will is focused on keeping the weapon in check.

Hope is the folley of youth incarnate. She is surrounded by people who think they know what is best for her. People who so strongly believe they know what's best for her, they are willing to go to war with their friends and allies to prove it. All the while she is discovering that the thing everyone is so scared of might not be very scary at all. To her it might be something wonderful, it might be her true potential, the thing that validates the sacrifice of her father and so many others. Hope is destined to become a Phoenix host, she is made for it, and even if she wasn't those kinds of power levels would have to be intoxicating. Cyclops erred in not telling her what the Phoenix is, in not sharing every single piece of information he had about the force of life and death incarnate for as it is now, Hope thinks she can handle what comes next all on her own.

Greg Land shines brightest during the fight scene between Colossus and Hulk, really visually selling the true demonic power that Colossus is trying his best to contain. And while his figures and expressions look very stiff during the reenactment of the confrontation on the beach, you have to love that ear to ear grin on Namor's face when he knows what Cyclops is planning to do. Hope's scenes also seem much more vibrant and dynamic than the rest of the book's pencils which is good as the art is a counterpoint to her being filled with a source of nigh unlimited power. Hope looks both relaxed but explosive and the composition of the scene perfectly sells the action.

By issue's end, Cyclops shows again why he is a strategist to rival Captain America, and fires off his first masterful counter attack. This issue finally delves into what I've been hoping for all along, an examination of the extremely powerful players on the extinction team, and how loosely Cyclops is holding this powder keg together. As the flagship writer of the X books, I was surprised that Gillen wasn't more involved in the crafting of AvX, however if the rest of his tie in issues are this good, I'll gladly take a jump in Uncanny's quality over Gillen's name on the marquee.

Grade A-

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