It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve found the time to write a full comic review, so let’s get back at it. Although this series has never been bad by any means, it started off with a vague main story and uneven writing. The last couple of issues both felt like huge improvements thanks to being a lot more focused. IN fact, only having Armor acting uncharacteristically extreme at the end of issue 7 held it back from being a great comic. Considering some of the writing behind characters like X-23 (sometimes her dialogue is way off) and Polaris (being jobbed in a fight that she should have dominated), having Armor suddenly decide to kill X-Man wasn’t the worst character writing we’ve seen in this series so far. Anyway, the previous issue saw X-Man and some of the X-kids trapped in the Age of Apocalypse universe. That’s where this issue picks up.
Co-written by Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson and Ed Brisson, Uncanny X-Men 8 is split half between the Age of Apocalypse universe and the main one, where the X-Men are busy fighting X-Man’s “Horsemen of Salvation”. It’s a fairly chaotic fight scene, with all of the X-Men involved. That said, it also feels kind of lame. We don’t see the horsemen fighting back at all – they’re just kind of tanking hits. The dialogue tries to suggest that they’re all confused, but none of their expressions or dialogue matches that description. There’s a weird disconnect from the dialogue and the art in this fight.
I do like that, unlike in the second volume of All-New X-Men, Laura’s actually smart and skilled enough to at least hold the Blob off, not to mention her dialogue suggests that she’s trying to be reasonable. That’s a huge improvement from her “Can I please stab the giant shark” dialogue from issue 4.
That said, the fight isn’t really the focus of this issue. It’s mostly about Jean Grey, Psylocke and Bishop figuring out what’s actually going on. Toss in the recently freed Kitty Pryde and Apocalypse to make their discussions a lot more complicated. I won’t spoil it, but the reveal towards the end of the comic both works really well, and it leads to a cliffhanger where the situation graduated from being out of hand to being pretty much impossible to solve. It makes it the buildup to the next issue all the more exciting. All I’ll say is that we see a direct confrontation between Legion and X-Man, and it’s one that I kind of wish went on a couple pages longer.
That kind of sums up this entire issue. On the one hand, this series felt drawn out at first, taking its time to build up a mystery. But now that the core story details are revealed it’s starting to feel rushed, as if the writers are in a hurry to get to Age of X-Man. It makes for a comic that, while well-written for the most part, it kind of jumps all over the place. There’s even a one page scene between Beast and Anole that continues a plot thread we haven’t seen since November (in a weekly series by the way). None of the characters get enough time for any real character moments. This issue is all story development and rushed action. Thankfully, there isn’t any severely out of character dialogue like there have been in some previous issues. And I’m even willing to forgive the previous issue of Armor’s outburst considering this issue made it clear they thought they’ve been in the Age of Apocalypse for half a year.
R.B. Silva’s art is really good though. Everything is highly detailed, whether it be the Age of Apocalypse environments full of destroyed buildings, debris on the ground, and smoke obscuring anything in the background. When Archangel is firing metal blades at Omega Red, there’s good use of motion blurs along with sparks when they bounce off of Red’s metal limbs. Facial expressions do a great job of conveying emotions, like Apocalypse’s determination when he decides to take matters into his own hands, Legion’s crazed look of confidence at the start of his duel with X-Man, and the thoughtful looks when Jean, Psylocke and Bishop are starting to figure out what happened to X-Man in issue 6. But as I said earlier, during the fight with the Horsemen of Salvation, the horsemen are kind of just tanking hits. It reduces the impact of that fight scene quite a bit. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colouring is brilliant as usual. This is a bright and colourful comic, with great use of glowing powers and shadows to add depth to the environments.
Uncanny X-Men 7 is still the best issue in this series, but despite its flaws, issue 8 is a close second. In terms of quality, Uncanny X-Men is on the right track. The story feels big enough for a weekly series, even if it feels rushed at times (which shouldn’t be a thing in a weekly series). It helps that all the major players are here in a coherent manner, like Magneto, Apocalypse, Legion and X-Man. This issue’s biggest problem is that there’s no time left for character moments. It keeps bringing up what could become fascinating debates or discussions, only to push them aside for the next big story moment. When you’ve already got a weekly series, there’s no need for decompressing the storytelling this much. By no means is Uncanny X-Men 8 a perfect comic, but it’s still good overall. It’s worth recommending to X-Men fans in general, and those who have been enjoying Uncanny X-Men so far will likely enjoy this as well.