I have great faith in Kieron Gillen. His Uncanny X-Men and Journey into Mystery have restored my faith in the X-Men and made me read a Thor universe comic. The AvX series had mixed reviews and, though I thought it long winded and drawn out, I enjoyed the downfall of Scott Summers, albeit with a weeping heart. This follows on directly focusing on Cyclops who has been taken into incarceration, amongst some side storylines. There were five parts to this arc that were all pencilled by different artists. They consist of Tom Raney, Steve Kurt, Scott Eaton, Mark Brooks and Gabriel Hernandez Walta all of whom have draw lesser known/B titles for Marvel, with the exception of Tom Raney. These five issues came out within a month, and I am sure it needed completion before the Marvel Now issues kicked into gear. The task at hand is not straightforward, as speed is of the essence and I am guessing this was an opportunity to showcase artwork. This can potentially derail the possibility of a coherent fluid storytelling; Five issues, Five artists, One Author, One Month.
Gillen has a great grasp of characters and relationships and his work on Uncanny X-Men lends to writing Cyclops’ story. The tone of the book is sombre and bittersweet as Scott plays the martyr for the mutant cause, which ultimately succeeded in AvX. Wolverine and Scott have excellent dialogue in this series and it is measured, emotional and follows through sensibly. It culminates successfully with a reversal of roles for the two characters and their relationship moves to yet another level. The rest of the book is essentially a tale of cathartic conversations between various heroes and villains with some obligatory action sequences. There is a side plot of Scott befriending a new mutant in the prison who is bullied by other non-mutant prisoners. This serves a representation of the human mutant relationship at large and a reminder to Cyclops the trouble that still exists. The obsession of Tony Stark and the mystical Phoenix force is an interesting angle to Iron Man; the genius engineer inventor. Hope pines for her adopted father and hunts for him over the issues and there is a heart warming resolution to the tale. As expected the writing is solid and true to the characters involved and to be honest I expected nothing less from Kieron Gillen.
The artwork is incredibly hit and miss with great variation between issues. This problem is borne out when the artist needs to convey emotion and reaction with confrontation and ablutionary conversations. It demands empathy and consistency especially with a character whose eyes you cannot see! Some of the artists succeed more than others and I am convinced a single peniciller would be able to achieve this more successfully. The pencilling style of the first four authors is at lease similar but Gabriel Hernandez Walta is completely different and sets the final issue apart from the others. For the record I am a huge fan of Walta’s quirky softer pencilling art and it is visually impressive but not as a final issue to an established artistic style. Wolverine has a different face in every issue but at least Scott is easier to draw but that’s because of his headwear. Otherwise action sequences are convincing and well drawn but are not the onus of the book.
The overriding theme of the arc is the resurrection and evolution of Scott Summers. As mentioned above, the task given to Gillen is difficult and I honestly believe if there was more time between issues, then this arc would work better. I struggle to truly believe Summers has spend any more than a couple of days in prison. This is important because you have to believe he has been thinking and slowly processing as he moves from indignant martyrdom to law breaking villainy. The side plot of a fellow mutant inmate works as a trigger to Scott’s transition but it is too rushed and forced to be effective. His relationship with Wolverine is the saving grace of this book as it is well written and paced and because a lot of time is dedicated to it. There is a fantastic line from Magneto describing the meaning of heroes and villains and this fits perfectly in the description of Cyclops and Wolverine’s roles and relationship. Ultimately the month that elapses from issue one to five is not enough time to convince me that Scott has undergone remorse, revelation and rejuvenation. Aside from being labelled a villain, tell me what’s changed?
“Hated, feared and saving the world. Tell me what’s changed” 7/10