Though they are just five issues into their run on UNCANNY X-MEN the creative team of Cullen Bunn and Greg Land have hit their groove and are telling exactly the type of stories X-Men fans want to see. They take us to far off and exotic lands where action packed scenes leave smoldering craters in their wake. This is a team that can be known by the trail of dead they leave behind them. There is tension between the characters and an overbearing sense of paranoia of those outside the mutant community. This is a return of the outlaw X-Men and there is no character better suited to lead such as team than Magneto.
In the series we have seen that the entire roster has been through some bad times, to say the least. Psylocke has maintained her trademark British stiff upper lip but her ties to a now mindless Archangel are still shrouded in shadows. Sabertooth is just his usual unstable self and Monet is dealing with the loss of someone dear to her and is taking it out on the rest of the world. Even Mystique and Fantomex are sorting through the damage done to them recently, despite the fact they are both maintaining a cavalier facade about things.
While protecting the healer mutant known as Triage, Magneto has set an ambush for Apocalypse’s gang of henchmen, the Dark Riders. Using Triage as bait and banking on the fact the young mutant would be able to heal himself, Magneto confronts the Dark Riders on the battered soil of the once proud mutant island nation of Genosha. Once they are fully caught up in the trap and have exposed themselves, Magneto and his team rip them to shreds. Literally cutting them apart as is seen when Archangel bisects a dark Rider with his razor sharp wings.
This is a brutal and efficient slaughter by the Uncanny X-Men the likes of which we haven’t seen since the grey and black days of Wolverine’s strike team X-Force. Aside from Archangel going all flying medieval we are shown Magneto shredding several foes viciously while Sabertooth savagely does what he does best. Psylocke psionically lobotomized one of the Dark Riders after she downloads everything of worth from his mind, leaving behind a husk. The most powerful may be Monet who we see extracting revenge on an Inhuman member of the Dark Riders in the name of someone she loved who was killed by the Terrigen Mist. We are not told who that was and that adds another notch of intrigue to the take Bunn is telling us here.
To cap it all off, after tearing their enemies apart, Magneto sets off enough detonations to entirely destroy the island of Genosha. A land he once ruled as over as a safe haven and utopia for the world’s mutants eradicated from the face of the earth in a humongous explosion. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about the metal state of this team and their leader than that.
After a brief reunion with the rest of the remaining X-Men in what is being called X-Haven, their safe house in the other-dimensional realm of Limbo, to drop off Triage it is apparent the philosophical differences in the team Storm has formed and this one will keep them apart. The team in Limbo has fled the world they are still sworn to protect and defend while Magneto’s team are going to actively strike out against their foes and are looking to make right what has been set wrong. Mutantkind, as a whole is grieving, just this group is doing so with a white knuckled clenched fist.
In an issue full of surprising moments and stark realizations, we are given one last one before Bunn wraps things up. Magneto has established a base for his team in another of his old stomping grounds. In the Savage Land in a facility he is calling War Room X. Magneto has a long history in this primordial land of dinosaurs and dense jungle. It will be interesting to see if the Savage Land Mutates are heard from here too.
Least we forget them, we are also served up a few pages of Mystique and Fantomenx as they cruise around in the latter’s sentient ship, E.V.A. They are hi deep in their still mysterious investigation into the Someday Corporation when they are apparently about to be recruited by Magneto to join his merry band of big bad killers and hard core mutants.
Bunn is telling the best X-Men story on the shelves right now and is showing no signs of letting up or giving in. Land’s art maintains its usual style and really delivers on the abundant and brutal fight scenes. Between the two of them there are enough loose ends and devastating discoveries in store for readers to take this story well into the future. If they are all as well done as this issue then fans are in for a great ride.