Uncanny X-Men #23 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3/5 – An Unexpected Prelude to the Next Big X-Men Story.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

Uncanny X-Men number twenty-three tells you right on the cover what the story will be about, the last will and testament of Charles Xavier. It also has the Original Sin border so readers would expect tie-ins to Marvel’s summer event as well. Oddly enough, once you’re done reading this issue you’ll find yourself wondering what’s in the will, and how this ties into Original Sin. Writer Brian Michael Bendis tells a solid story, but readers will still have to wait for some of the larger questions to be answered.

This issue opens up with what looks to be a new mutant that we’ll most likely be seeing more of but we just get a brief glimpse into his life and powers. After that, the issue jumps around highlighting multiple characters from Cyclops’ team. The previous five issues told a larger story with the X-Men at war with S.H.I.E.L.D. so this issue serves as a sort of reset, putting the characters in their place and setting them up for the next arc. Cyclops, Hijack and Dazzler all get their introspective moments which Bendis always writes so well. Dazzler’s scene in particular stands out as we see her coping with what Mystique put her through over the course of the last few issues. It’s a powerful scene with almost no dialogue, but the emotion still carries through due in large part to Kris Anka’s art.

Anka’s work was last seen on All New X-Factor, and it’s quite a change from Uncanny series artist Chris Bachalo’s previous work. The facial expressions really stand out, which a quieter story like this needs. The faces can be exaggerated at times, but it still works as they fit with Anka’s overall style. The Dazzler scene mentioned above is told mostly through her eyes and body language and it’s by far the best scene in the book, unfortunately Anka’s lack of backgrounds is obvious throughout. Adding to that, the little backgrounds there are tend to be mostly computer rendered, giving the world a sterile and unnatural feel next to the dramatically drawn characters.

The issue closes on a cliffhanger that made me want to come back for the next part, but also made me wish I got a bit more in this one. It still remains to be seen how this will tie into Original Sin since we know for sure that we’ll get more of the mystery surrounding Xavier’s will. Bendis has stated that this storyline will alter the X-Men team in big ways, but this issue is clearly a prelude of what’s to come. It’s solid storytelling with emotional art, but it may leave some readers disappointed that the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier won’t actually be read until next month after the ‘tease’ on the cover of this issue.

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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