Uncanny X-Men #524

The Chapter 6 slump? It’s not a phrase I’ve heard before, but I guess when you’re a 14-part story that there needs to be a slow moment somewhere. “Uncanny X-Men” tackles the latest installment of “Second Coming,” but here it doesn’t so much slow down as it grinds to a halt after last week’s sudden death.

With this issue, the X-Men regroup to bury their dead, with the remaining X-Men in the field somehow having already gotten to Utopia as quickly as Rogue and Hope. It’s a slight disconnect from the previous issue, but then again this chapter in general feels disconnected from all of “Second Coming” so far. We have a guest-star fly in for the funeral, and in general people spend the issue milling about and talking. Apparently the bad guys are taking a breather as well; considering the X-Men are busy planning a funeral, you think their inside man would’ve thought now was the perfect time to strike.

I’ve heard discussions about “Second Coming” pointing to Cyclops as a bad leader, and if that’s what this issue is supposed to show then I think that’s a fair assessment. There’s a strange, oddball sense of logic going on throughout the entire issue. (By way of example, they need a teleporter, so they send Pixie — their remaining teleporter — into the extremely dangerous realm of Limbo to help a rescue mission find the temporarily missing Magik. Instead of just using Pixie as a teleporter until all of this is over.) Big threats are identified, and strangely put on hold until the next chapter. Only Wolverine seems to remember that they’re in this spring’s crossover event, but the characters themselves just mosey about as if they’ve already hit the epilogue issues.

Terry and Rachel Dodson’s art is also slightly off this month, which is a little surprising as they’re normally the most dependable you can find at Marvel. On the third page, there’s a group shot of everyone clustered around the dead teammate’s body, and someone says, “Bring him back.” The problem is, it’s such a long shot that I still can’t figure out who said that; everyone’s just a little dot and it could have been anyone. Later on, there’s a close-up of another character’s face during the eulogy scene, but it’s such a tight crop that I found myself wondering who was speaking. Dodson normally don’t make these sorts of mistakes, and it’s a bit puzzling. (And while we’re at it, why has Justin Ponsor made Magneto purple on the first page?) When Dodson’s figures are clearly identifiable, it’s a slick and smooth look, but some of the staging makes it all a bit of a mess.

Hopefully this is just a hiccup in what up until now has been a surprisingly successful crossover. But after five strong chapters, suddenly stumbling at this point in the game is a little surprising, and not in a good way.

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