Marvel’s efforts to reorganize (let’s use that euphemism) their X-titles worked for me. I had no history in reading X-titles, and so I felt out-of-the-loop, as they say, regarding any of the characters and storylines. While the Marvel Universe is generally run as an organic whole, everything related to the X-Men has always seemed to run parallel to and almost separately from the rest of the Marvel Universe. This isn’t true, but the X-titles do tend to make up their own microcosm as opposed to how the Avengers correlate to the Marvel Universe. Uncanny X-Men was a title that Marvel ran from 1963 – 2011 with over 550 issues (including annuals). Therefore, jumping into the complex X-Men world was basically impossible from my point of view.
In 2010-2012, Marvel restarted, renumbered, and reorganized most of the X-Men titles – without destroying any of their past historical events. My favorite Marvel writer, Jason Aaron, was given the Wolverine title and the Wolverine & The X-Men titles. A title just called X-Men was started and in 2012, Marvel restarted Uncanny X-Men at issue #1. If ever readers were going to get involved in X-titles – this was definitely the best opportunity.
The events of Uncanny X-Men #1 are directly related to the events that take place in the mini-event X-Men Schism and are connected to both the Wolverine and X-Men titles. Could a reader successfully read this issue without having read those I just mentioned? Of course; however, I can say that it really is the best option to have at least read the X-Men Schism mini-event. The writer for Uncanny X-Men #1 is Kieron Gillen and it’s obvious his first order of business is to explain something of what’s going on in the X-Men world without making things too messy. His second task is to put forth an engaging storyline that should propel this particular title forward from issue #1. I think that he succeeds in doing both, although the issue does not turn out to be anything fantastic.
Right away the reader is given the roster of those X-Men who are on the island Utopia. The reader is also directly given the new and improved purpose and goal of these X-Men. From the brain and mouth of Cyclops the reader learns, alongside the new organization of X-Men, what this team’s mission will be. Welcome to the concept of Extinction Team. This is a basic storyline. However, I cannot say that it’s entirely new in the X-Men world, little of it that I know.
“That is our primary aim, anything else is just survival. It’s something we’ve tried before, but never on a big enough scale. If this team saves humanity from extinction enough, people will realize how badly they need us. In short, we’ve always been earth’s mightiest heroes. Extinction team will prove it.” – Cyclops
That quote is from only two frames in the issue and I feel most readers who read without care might miss what was said there. Like I said above, this is not exactly a new directive for X-Men – Cyclops readily admits that in this quote. The difference is that it is now going to be attempted on a larger scale. Well, I am sure that X-Men fans can argue the point of whether or not this has been done before. But notice the last part of the quote: Cyclops calls the X-Men “earth’s mightiest heroes” – which is actually the longtime tagline and monicker of none other than the Avengers. Clearly, this presages the upcoming 2012 Marvel yearly event “Avengers vs. X-Men.” Who are earth’s mightiest heroes?
A villain, Mr. Sinister, is introduced quickly – on first meeting him, he seems like a rather cool villain to me. I mean, he’s ruthless, unhesitating, and “classy.” But the part I did not like is this oddball goofy usage of the weird robot/alien Celestial. And then Mr. Sinister controls and flies off in the thing’s head. Yeah, this seemed really goofy and silly. However, I did get a kick out of what Mr. Sinister did when he lands the head at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts! This villain and what’s he’s done there is the most interesting aspect of the issue. (Also, Namor is his pompous-cocky self, even if it’s just a frame or two.)