As I said last time, I’m expecting great things from Kieron Gillen’s tenure on “Uncanny X-Men.” Everything he has done so far at Marvel has been worth reading if not outright excellent. That said, the series is currently in a transitional period as the new direction for the franchise is being laid out in “Schism.” Plans for that were likely in place before Gillen was brought on board, so you get the feeling that he was told to not start anything long-term with these issues. After reading them, I can say that at least they show he’s quite good at killing time.
Back in my review of “X-Men: Legacy -- Collision,” I talked about how having Magneto travel to India and deal with the Children of the Vault there flew in the face of the fact that his membership in the team was meant to be a secret from the public. Fortunately that’s addressed and dealt with in a convincing way here as public relations specialist Kate Kildare talks about her efforts to kill those stories and find a way to make Magneto’s return acceptable to the public. At the same time, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Colossus, Namor and others are in a race against time to stop an A.I.M. splinter group from unleashing their earthquake device on California’s west coast. The superhero action is fast-paced, and I liked the debate between Kate and Magneto about his image and what it means. Ultimately the two plotlines are brought together in a way that solves everything a little too neatly. I would’ve loved to have seen a few more pages dealing with Magneto’s handling of the problem and even the public’s reaction to seeing the world’s so-called foremost mutant terrorist lending them a helping hand.
Still, the matter of his public reveal is out of the way and Gillen can get on with telling other stories like the title one. “Breaking Point’s” hook is the return of the Breakworlders from Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing” run and if you haven’t read it, I certainly recommend it. If you haven’t, everything you need to know about them is in the arc as they have come to Earth not in the name of conquest, but to seek asylum. After Colossus won the title of “powerlord” and immediately left the planet, Breakworld fell into chaos and the former powerlord, Kruun, is now trying to lead his people out of their cultural dead-end. That’s not to say that he isn’t out for a little vengeance as well.
The thing with the Breakworlders is that they’re like Klingons with no “off” switch. They’re so battle-oriented that they have no experience with concepts like “diplomacy,” “mercy,” and “apologizing.” Gillen gets some good mileage out of the comedic potential of such a culture clash while not trivializing the race and its members. You do wind up feeling sorry for the fact that their beliefs didn’t allow for a future like this to even be considered and Kruun’s actions have a believable ring of desperation and tragedy about them. Thankfully Terry and Rachel Dodson handle the art in this arc as I doubt Greg Land would’ve been able to deliver the expressiveness needed to make the emotional connections work. Not only do their characters emote well, they also move just as good in the action scenes with the standout being Kitty Pryde’s intangible race across the island to escape from her pursuer.
“Losing Hope” is the final story in this collection and it’s basically another issue of “Generation Hope.” I like that series, so this isn’t really that big of a deal to me. After being convinced by Lauren and Idie that she has been cooped up on Utopia for too long, Hope joins them for an excursion to the mainland where she is promptly kidnapped by some unknown assailants. As the best tracker on the island is Wolverine, he takes it upon himself to track her down even though he apparently doesn’t like her all that much. After the rescue and the fighting, we find out why and it’s a good reason. You see, even though Logan is “the best there is at what he does” there is a downside to being the kind of person who sees killing as a viable option to problem solving. He’s not about to change but, “A man can get awfully tired of wiping his friends off of his knuckles.” Heartfelt words, and sold all the better through Ibraim Roberson’s detailed art.
As much as I like what’s collected here, I was expecting the start of Gillen’s run to show us what he wants to accomplish with these characters. That it doesn’t happen here isn’t a dealbreaker as I realize that it was probably out of his hands as soon as he started writing. I’m assuming that direction will be coming later with the relaunched “Uncanny.” In the meantime, what we have here isn’t mere filler as it’s elevated by strong writing and art that will keep fans like me entertained in the meantime.