UNCANNY X-MEN #12 by Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca
UNCANNY X-MEN #12 is the perfect counterpart to the other ongoing X-Men storyline, AGE OF X-MAN. Gritty, depressing, and yet strangely hopeful at the same time, Rosenberg shows readers how the X-Men, when together, can overcome just about anything.
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Scott and Logan put aside their differences in this week’s UNCANNY X-MEN #12 and discover, finally, that friendship truly is magic. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but they do spend a lot of time together (without trying to kill each other) and Logan pulls a bullet out of Cyclops’ back so we’re going to go ahead and say they’re best friends now.

Writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Salvador Larroca make a massive comeback after disappointing with UNCANNY X-MEN #11. Beyond Scott and Logan’s interactions, Rosenberg does an excellent job propelling the narrative (something #11 struggled to do) and broadening the scope of Cyclops and Wolverine’s current woes. While some fans may not like Rosenberg’s rash decisions (i.e. he kills a lot of characters), I find them a little refreshing after the depressingly stagnant X-Men series of 2018. If UNCANNY X-MEN #12 is offering big changes, I say bring them on.

Cyclops and Wolverine
UNCANNY X-MEN #12 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Wolverine and Cyclops Have a Plan

After pretty much just moping around in UNCANNY X-MEN #11, Wolverine and Cyclops finally create a pseudo-plan in UNCANNY X-MEN #12. In their search to find more fellow X-Men, they hear about a secret government facility that is, according to a drunk guard, hiding (and torturing, of course) mutants. Pretty much immediately, Logan and Scott break into the facility, where they’re met by a couple of Sentinels. At first, they seem like your normal, run-of-the-mill Sentinels until Wolverine makes a gruesome discovery mid-fight: they’re bleeding.

The Sentinels weren’t really Sentinels at all. Underneath all the robotics were some familiar faces, including Strong Guy, Karma, and Dani Moonstar. The transmode virus transformed a handful of mutants into machine-like beings. The government then used them to power anti-mutant Sentinels.

Wolverine Fight
UNCANNY X-MEN #12 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Further inside the facility, Scott and Logan find Wolfsbane and Magik, who, because of the nature of their shapeshifting mutations, didn’t contract the virus. Scott also finds his brother and together they’re able to take down the entire facility (with only a few casualties).

The Not-So-Marvelous X-Men

UNCANNY X-MEN #12 is a nice companion to the AGE OF X-MAN storylines because they’re almost perfect opposites. In AGE OF X-MAN, the X-Men are glorified heroes in a (seemingly) perfect world. In UNCANNY X-MEN #12, the X-Men are at their most beaten, their most broken. The world hates them and, in a way, they sort of hate themselves, too. This is obviously a depressing issue. Logan and Scott break their friends out of jail, but they’re covered in disease and one doesn’t end up making it out alive. They’re all struggling, both physically and emotionally. It’s hard to see them this way.

Uncanny X-Men #12 Review
UNCANNY X-MEN #12 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

But, when you look at AGE OF X-MAN as a comparison, it’s easier to see this issue as hopeful. In AGE OF X-MAN, everyone is a mutant. There is no such thing as mutant hate. The X-Men’s biggest problem is solved…and yet they still can’t be happy because relationships are illegal. Things are looking bad in UNCANNY X-MEN #12, but Rosenberg makes sure to highlight the power of relationships: Cyclops’ friendship with Logan, Magik’s loyalty to Strong Guy, and, perhaps most importantly, Cyclops’ brotherly bond with Havok. These characters have what the “Marvelous X-Men” don’t have: love. It’s a little cheesy but it’s also surprisingly real.

Saying Goodbye to Strong Guy in UNCANNY X-MEN #12

In UNCANNY X-MEN #11, Rosenberg killed off Blindfold. In this week’s issue, he sent Guido Carosella a.k.a. Strong Guy packing. Since I’m not the biggest Strong Guy fan (I honestly sometimes forget his name), I’m not particularly sad about the loss of his character. Still, he’s a long-time member of the X-Men and his death is a major storyline.

The reason you shouldn’t grab your pitchforks over Rosenberg’s decision (even if you really liked Guido) is simple: it’s a big deal. Rosenberg is rocking the X-Men boat, similar to how Grant Morrison did way back in NEW X-MEN. Things can’t stay the same way forever. After series like X-MEN GOLD and X-MEN BLUE, where minor plots failed to affect the larger X-Men world, UNCANNY X-MEN #12 is a breath of fresh air. The X-Men need to develop and move on. I’m glad Rosenberg has the guts to do that.

Realism Overload

Fans were torn when it came to the art in UNCANNY X-MEN #11. Some readers loved how realistic it was and some readers thought it looked plastic and fake (think Greg Land on steroids). My position was somewhere in between the two camps and for UNCANNY X-MEN #12, I take the same neutral spot. Larroca is far from a bad artist. Anatomically, he can draw the human body quite well and his backgrounds are intensely realistic. Some of his figures have strained facial expressions that are unsettling, but overall his pencils and colors are a solid okay.

Uncanny X-Men #12 Review
UNCANNY X-MEN #12 Review / Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Personally, I prefer art with a little less realism and a little more creativity, but for an issue that’s as depressing and gritty as UNCANNY X-MEN #12, Larroca’s bleak palette and staunch realism work fairly well.

UNCANNY X-MEN #12 Surprised Me

After UNCANNY X-MEN #11, I wasn’t expecting much from Rosenberg this week. I’m very happy to say that my predictions were wrong. Rosenberg delivered a compelling, well-paced story that acts as a nice counterpart to the current AGE OF X-MAN storylines. I think it’s almost safe to say that 2019 is a good year to be an X-Men fan.

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