Uncanny X-Men 20 ended with Cyclops and Magic confronting Wolverine’s X-Men, only for Cyclops’s powers to explode against his will. That’s where this issue kicks off, with the X-Men ready to fight each other. Magic finds herself unable to teleport away, and she soon loses control of her demonic powers as well. Then SHIELD shows up, and everything spirals out of hand. This is mostly a battle issue, and it’s an intense one.
There have been a lot of different conflicts building up over the course of Brian Michael Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men. The two X-Men factions distrust of each other has only increased, while both sides are increasingly at odds with SHIELD. Mystique has taken place of Dazzler as SHIELD’s mutant liaison, hiding Dazzler in Madripoor as a source of a mutant growth hormone. All of these conflicts come into play in this issue, with both an impressive showing by Storm and a surprise appearance of Magneto. As intense as this issue is, the next might just be more intense. And with Beast discovering the identity of the mystery figure that’s been plaguing Cyclops’s team since the beginning, one has to wonder when we’ll find out.
While I’m not a huge fan of Chris Bachalo’s style, his art works here. It’s easier to follow the action than usual with his drawing. His colours can blend together sometimes, but here it works. When you have a 50-foot magic demon or a Helicarrier firing on a building with heavy cannons, you’d expect things to visually blend together a bit. Even with the wide range of characters in the school, most are easily identifiable if only thanks to their unique hair colours.
This is a great issue. You won’t fully appreciate all the conflicts coming to head if you haven’t read Bendis’s Uncanny title up to now, but it’s still an intense comic with lots of action and arguing between factions. You can almost physically feel the distrust between each party involved. While not everyone enjoys Bendis’s style of writing, if you’re an X-Men fan who hasn’t given his Uncanny X-Men run a chance, you really should.