This doubles as the 25 issue special for Brian Michael Bendis’s Uncanny X-Men series and a major issue in the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier. The last issue dropped the bomb that Xavier and Mystique were married … at least at one point. This issue doesn’t further deal with that however, it deals with a very powerful mutant that Xavier left hidden from the world.
The bulk of this issue is about said mutant, a very powerful one Charles discovered early in the X-Men’s days, Matthew. This particular mutant was somehow very resistant to telepathy and possessed some sort of unspecified destructive power (yes, this is the same mutant that popped up in the last two issues). Because of the uncontrollable nature of Matthew’s abilities, Xavier decided to lock away these abilities and implant memory blocks. On the one hand, this sounds somewhat similar to mutants such as Legion or Proteus, but this is a bit different. This is very early in Xavier’s days as a Mutant superhero of sorts. The story is actually very compelling, and while Xavier uses questionable means to limit Matthews’s powers at first, he still uses these means for the right reasons. It’s much more respectable to Xavier’s character than most of his previous “deep secret” stories in the past.
In between Xavier’s discussion of Matthew via. hologram, the two sides of the X-Men don’t exactly get along. Several characters question others’ decision to fight alongside Cyclops, although he and Storm are able to act mature with each other for the most part. And then of course there’s Iceman’s confrontational words with Cyclops and the following … I won’t spoil it. Several lines from other X-men keep the issue entertaining, especially from She Hulk and Wolverine. The comic ends with Xavier asking Cyclops and Wolverine to work together, at least one last time, to build a team with the strongest telepath the X-men have and find Matthew to check on him.
Chris Bachalo’s art is a bit mixed. His general style is good, but there are a few inconsistencies. While it can be hard to tell different characters from each other in some of his other comics, this one is fine since everyone has a different hairstyle and costumes. Facial expressions and body language do a good job at conveying emotions, whether it’s the warm greeting between Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde or Iceman and Cyclops nearly picking a fight. The panel with everyone annoyed at Iceman’s comment is particularly good. That said, the expressions can get repetitive at times. The backgrounds are usually well-drawn, especially when they involve destroyed buildings like Matthew’s demolished house or the damage outside the Jean Grey School that they’re still repairing from the recent SHEILD Sentinel attack. On the downside, there are a few too many panels where a greyed-out character’s back is in the foreground. Also, Bachalo seems to only know how to draw one kind of earring (hoops) and they seem to keep disappearing and re-appearing. For the most part though, this is one of his better drawn comics.
This is a solid comic overall. While Xavier’s secret isn’t completely original, there’s enough different about it to feel fresh. The interactions between the different sides of the X-men might be the real highlight though, even if it’s not the main focus of this issue. While nothing is as shocking as learning Xavier’s marriage with Mystique (nor do we know everything about Xavier’s will yet), there’s more than enough to keep this issue interesting. If you’re an X-Men fan in general who hasn’t given Bendis’s run a chance yet, you should.