writer: Brian Michael Bendis / artist: Kris Anka

I realize he puts out a certain degree of divisive work, but Brian Michael Bendis is on a roll lately with Uncanny X-Men. It’s moved too slowly for some readers, but I would argue that the X-franchise has needed to slow down for some genuinely heartfelt character development in a way. Bendis has really succeeded in doing a close up on some of these characters and immersing you in their world with genuine pathos.

The latest issue has us face to face with the last Horrible Thing Charles Xavier Had To Sweep Under The Rug, new omega level mutant, Matthew Malloy. He’s reached a turning point from which there is no going back where he must decide what the rest of his life will look like. And he went away with Cyclops, the new Magneto. There are a few real high points in this book. For starters, anytime Bendis has Cyclops doing one of his grand Friday Night Lights quarterback speeches, it’s usually to the book’s benefit. Such is this still the case this week. “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier”, moreso than any other run on an X-book in recent memory, has zoomed in on certain characters and created some truly intimate moments. Here, we see an interesting, charming balance of Scott Summers keeping a brave face on while trying to redeem himself via a fellow lost cause.

Another great moment is an exchange between Storm and Beast which lends itself just a little further to the Fall of Henry McCoy. Bendis hasn’t really done as much as he could with this, but Hank has been progressively losing his shit, wracking his brain over his hand in the enormous rift in the X-family. As much as I hate to repeat a point I’ve made in this regard, it’s akin to a broken family that’s up against a wall and starts to understand its black sheep a little better and vice versa. Visually, this is some of Kris Anka’s best artwork on Uncanny thus far. There’s a great flashback sequence during Cyclops’ speechifying that shows the X-Men’s evolution throughout the years where Anka really gets to show off. Also, watching Beast try to hold back tears as he makes his scientific notes is done so well, it’s heartbreaking.

Bottom Line: Definite competition for the best written book of this story arc. Hands down the best looking book of the series so far. 9 out of 10.

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