Writer: Matthew Rosenberg / Artist: Salvador Larroca with David Messina / Marvel
“We have always been at war.”
After half a year of putting the “Last X-Men” through the worst possible circumstances, Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larocca’s Uncanny X-Men #22 finally puts everyone’s favorite mutant toys back on the shelf, but not before leaving behind a lot of dead bodies for Jonathan Hickman to sort through before taking the reins. In their final confrontation with the O.N.E. (One National Emergency) and Warlock-bred Sentinels led by General Callahan, several X-Men make the greatest sacrifice in order to ensure a brighter future. In the previous issue, Emma Frost successfully erased the memory of mutants from the collective unconscious of the entire human population. Without a war, without a cause, and without struggle, what purpose do the X-Men serve? In many ways, hiding in plain sight is even worse than death because mutants are not the ones who need to change, but rather the bigoted humans.
Through the ages, Scott Summer exists as Charles Xavier’s most dedicated student and protector of the dream – even when he kicks the Professor X out of his own house, kills him, or becomes branded as a mutant terrorist. Even with these changes, ole One Eye (literally, now that his own grand-daughter sniped his right eye), Cyclops lives as something of a doubting Thomas when it comes to his ability to lead the X-Men. When this issue begins, fellow X-Man, former student and New Mutant Dani Moonstar reminds Scott that while he has always had the luxury of being at the forefront of the X-Men lore, the soldiers who suffer the most are not just an expendable supporting cast, but those lost lives are her real people and also her friends. She leaves Scott with this thought to feed the pigeons as she wallows in his own self-pity, only to be joined by his loyal, albeit coattail-tugging hothead brother Alex. Just when they believed that Emma’s plan really worked, they are spotted by Sentinels created from the technocratic tissue of the quasi-deceased New Mutant Warlock.
Havok ultimately sacrifices himself in order for Scott to live and carry on the fight, but ultimately it is not enough to even make a dent in the oncoming assault as Warlock (fused with a Madrox multiple), and even Madrox Prime fall in the battle. The only thing that ultimately saves the X-Men from running head on into a full suicide mission is the timely re-emergence of their long-thought dead peers.
Overall, the final issue of Rosenberg’s reign as the X-maestro dots the I’s and crosses the T’s by giving fans the X-Men moments that have been 15 years in the making. As the real Cyclops and the real Jean Grey are finally reunited for the first time in actual continuity since 2004, shunned lovers Emma Frost and Wolverine pout in the distance as the X-Men’s Royal Couple share a long overdue kiss. While the return of the other X-Men from the Age of X-Man universe comes off as a forced moment that is even more awkward because the artistic style completely shifts (deadlines, deadlines, deadlines), the overall sentiment is one of relief as all of the mutants are finally back in the same reality in order to take down the Warlock-Sentinels. No one is beyond shedding a little thug tear when Storm returns in her glory and proclaims, “To me, my X-Men,” as they take down the Sentinel once and for all. In order to understand how and why the X-Men return to the normal reality, however, requires reading Age of X-Man: Omega. In all honesty, I can say that I was happy to forget and neglect about the entire event simply because of publication overkill. Perhaps the Age of X-Man story will flourish in the trade paperback afterlife, but more than likely not as the future looks much brighter than the recent past.
This month signals a bold new era for mutantdom as Jonathan “F@#$ your couch” Hickman takes the creative reigns of the both the flagship title and all adjoining X-titles for the foreseeable future. Beginning with the double mini-series House of X and Powers of X, Hickman will somehow undo or retrofit all of the mutant deaths left in Rosenberg’s wake. Based on the lineups announcement of the upcoming Dawn of X series, however, it seems like most, if not all, of what Rosenberg wrote either did not ultimately matter or Hickman finds a creative way to reverse these unwarranted deaths.
Mutants Killed (or drastically altered) by Rosenberg in Eleven Issues of Uncanny X-Men: Strong Guy, Wolfsbahne, Sunspot, Joseph (Magneto clone), The Vanisher, Triage, Havok, Multiple Man, Banshee, Magick, Juggernaut, Chamber, and so many more….
7 out of 10 Mutant Lobotomies
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