Now that the major players in this series are established, the story is really moving forward. This issue opens up with a major fight between government forces and the population, fueled by the fact that Magneto (under X-Man’s influence) took all their guns away. The main X-Men team is right in the middle of it, trying to stop everyone from killing each other. Meanwhile, Jean Grey’s team focuses on rescuing oil rig workers while Blob and Omega Red (also under X-Man’s influence) are about to destroy the oil rig. In short, X-Man is taking his mission of peace to the absolute extreme – to the point where it’s actually causing more violence than it’s solving.
Uncanny X-Men 5, co-written by Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson (not sure which of the three is the lead writer on any of these issues, or if they’re all contributing equally), is mostly an action issue. That said, there are still bits of story sprinkled into the narrative, keeping the plot moving. The scene with X-Man taking council from his three captives (Kitty Pryde, Apocalypse and Senator Allen) shows an extremely powerful character who doesn’t seem to know what his actual plan is. It’s as if the power has completely taken over his mind. There’s one particular moment during that scene that I could see upsetting certain readers; he erases several major holy sites from existence. I’m just laughing at the idea that they chose Vatican City over Jerusalem. Speaking as a Christian, I’ve got to say that most of us really don’t care about the Vatican. I even went out of my way to avoid Vatican City when I visited Italy 6 years ago. Just saying this moment probably would have worked better with one more panel to also include the Temple on the Mount.
Anyway, there are some neat ideas in the story that shouldn’t be spoiled here. You see Legion acting at least somewhat sane, which may or may not be an even more worrying sign than when he acted crazy earlier. You see Polaris fighting Magneto (with Storm somewhat hilariously striking the middle ground with lightning instead of throwing her lighting anywhere near Magneto). Psylocke personally deals with Angel, in a way that will probably make the situation even more complicated in the next issue. Everyone feels in character, apart from a couple lines from several characters that feel a bit off, most notably X-23 injecting pointless reps of “I mean” into her dialogue when her lines are usually pointed and well thought-out. I’m also getting the impression that it isn’t Thompson who’s writing X-23’s dialogue in the last couple of issues, because X-23 also appears in this week’s Mr. and Mrs. X, and her dialogue works a lot better in that comic. Apart from my dialogue complaint, the only downside is that this issue is moving so fast, the moments that feel like they should be dramatic whiz by too fast.
The art by R.B. Silva is great. The opening spread fully embraces the chaotic battle scene, with all the present X-Men struggling to hold back the warring crowds, while Magneto hovers in the background, merely observing. There’s a good variety of civilian fighters in the background, with different hairstyles and slightly varied angry expressions. There might be couple too many wide open mouths, but that’s pretty close to nitpicking an otherwise fantastic drawing. This level of detail continues throughout the comic. There’s the surprising aftermath of the oil rig attack, the debris in cerebro after the X-Mansion got destroyed 2 issues ago, and all the powers being flung around when Polaris and Magneto fight, brightening up their surroundings. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colouring is mostly fantastic. This is a bright and colourful comic from start to finish, with great lighting effects and a good mix of glares and shadows. However like the previous issue, a couple characters’ eye colours are wrong.
Every issue in this series feels like an overall improvement over the last. It feels like the different storylines are starting to merge together. Uncanny X-Men 7 actually takes a couple risks with its story beats, even if it could have taken the risks a bit further. The idea of a big fight between Legion and X-Man, with the X-Men caught in the middle, is exciting. It looks like that might just happen in the next issue. This is series isn’t without downsides, but this is by far the best flagship X-Men series we’ve had in years. That’s not saying much, but still.
I still hesitate to recommend this series, but if you’ve been enjoying Uncanny X-Men so far, you’ll enjoy this too. And if you’re a fan of the X-Men, this is at least worth paying attention to.