UNCANNY X-MEN #18 by Matthew Rosenberg, Carlos Villa, and Guru-eFX
UNCANNY X-MEN #18 is not what I was expecting. This issue does have more of the overdramatic plot points (aka deaths) that Rosenberg loves to add in, but it also has a lot of the cathartic characterization that we haven't seen much of in previous issues. While the art is still lacking in certain panels, UNCANNY X-MEN #18 proves that Rosenberg still understands how to make an entertaining X-Men comic.
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It’s a good week to be an X-Men fan. With UNCANNY X-MEN #18, AGE OF X-MAN: THE MARVELOUS X-MEN #4, and AGE OF X-MAN: NEXTGEN #4 all coming out on the same Wednesday, we have a lot of choices when it comes to getting our X-fix. Even better, all three of these issues are solid additions to current X-Men history. Whatever X-title you’re following, you’ll be entertained.

While every X-Men series surprised me this week, it was Matthew Rosenberg’s UNCANNY X-MEN #18 that went well above my expectations. It’s no secret that this series has left me feeling a bit empty as an X-Men fan. Poor characterization, lackluster art, and a nearly incomprehensible timeline made it worse than the Age of X-Man (which is saying something). But, with UNCANNY X-MEN #18, I found new confidence in Rosenberg’s understanding of these complex characters and their current plight.

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UNCANNY X-MEN #18 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Will Rosenberg be able to keep it up until POWERS OF X and HOUSE OF X? Maybe. At this point, I’m honestly just hoping for fewer deaths and a little more of that family drama that makes the X-Men my favorite superhero team. If Rosenberg can give that, then I’ll be happy.

The Black King’s Reign Begins in UNCANNY X-MEN #18    

If you’re a fan of the X-Man Chamber, UNCANNY X-MEN #18 is going to hurt. Unfortunately, the British mutant is Rosenberg’s newest victim, though the setting of his death is considerably less controversial than Rahne’s. We’ll get into that a little later.

Wolverine and Karma both decide to leave the team — for different (and warranted) reasons. Havok saves the day when Sinister attacks the X-Men’s bar/home but nearly evaporates while doing it. Cyclops, in typical older brother fashion, berates him for it.

The very last page of the issue shows Emma Frost and Mystique. In UNCANNY X-MEN #17, readers discovered that Emma had psychically removed herself from the memories of the X-Men. I assumed that we would see more of Emma in this issue (since she’s on the cover) but it seems like Rosenberg’s going to keep her in the shadows for a little bit longer.

Are All the X-Men Going to Die?

It’s the question a lot of X-Men fans are asking at the moment. Rosenberg warned us before his turn on UNCANNY X-MEN that he planned on killing a lot of characters, but I’m not sure any of us were prepared for what’s happened in the past ten or so issues. Although he’s left the major characters unscathed, Blindfold, Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, and now Chamber have all fallen victim to Rosenberg’s ruthless agenda.

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UNCANNY X-MEN #18 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Wolfsbane’s death was perhaps the most uncalled for (and the most poorly executed). In our current political climate, Rosenberg’s decision to kill a female mutant by having her purposefully not fight back wasn’t very sensitive. Chamber’s death didn’t especially need to happen, but at least it doesn’t carry quite as much baggage. Chamber died from the thing I think most superheroes would die from (if comics were more realistic): cockiness. He turned and someone stabbed him in the back. As underwhelming and unceremonious as that is, it actually does make sense. Superheroes leave themselves in defenseless positions all the time. Chamber was just unlucky.

Still, if Rosenberg keeps killing off B-list X-Men, he’ll have to answer to a lot of angry fans. One death can make a big statement. Five deaths don’t.

The New Mutants Deconstructed

Until this issue, UNCANNY X-MEN has shown very little promise in the characterization department. It had action, and it had tons of Cyclops being sad, but characters like Dani and Illyana rarely spoke. In UNCANNY X-MEN #18, we finally get to see some of these characters interact and (best of all) talk about previous events.

We didn’t get to see much of the aftermath of Rosenberg’s NEW MUTANTS: DEAD SOULS in other X-Men titles. UNCANNY X-MEN #18 sees Karma (the inadvertent antagonist of DEAD SOULS) open up to Dani about betraying her team. The panel where Karma tearfully notes that Rahne died hating her is particularly heartfelt and, for a New Mutants fan, hard to read.

Rosenberg knows how to handle these characters in a sensitive way, but I wish he had tried to sooner. A little more characterization in the earlier issues could’ve gone a long way. Still, I’ll take what I can get.

A Needed Change

New UNCANNY X-MEN artist Carlos Villa is what the series needed. His style is a little too cartoon-ish for such a serious title, but it’s a huge improvement from Salvador Larroca. Villa brings life to the characters where Larroca left them stiff and plastic-like. In particular, he excels at action scenes, where a lot of characters are moving, but sometimes struggles with facial close-ups. Villa definitely pulls from manga and anime for inspiration, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your hobbies.

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UNCANNY X-MEN #18 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Color artist Guru-eFX brings a slightly more colorful palette than previous issues. This fits Villa’s style, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the whole “killing a character every episode” vibe.

UNCANNY X-MEN #18 Was Able to Surprise Me

UNCANNY X-MEN #18 is the perfect example of what UNCANNY X-MEN could’ve always been. Its many pros (particularly the quality characterization) outweigh most of its cons. Rosenberg gets these characters better than most writers and this issue proves it. I’m not quite on the UNCANNY X-MEN bandwagon, but I’m getting there.

One Comment

  1. Togu Oppusunggu

    May 15, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    The way Jono killed the Marauders turned me off. Being executioner is definitely not what I look for in superheroes. In his case, the Marauders were not even proven to have been guilty. And it was more or less treated casually in this issue. Horrible writing!


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