"Uncanny X-Men" #15 is full of grand posturing and bragging of accomplishment with very little actually accomplished. From the opening scene of the X-Men's public relations rep Kate Kildare’s impotence at finding the right angle to spin the Phoenix Five story to Magneto’s nauseatingly over-flourished greeting, the tone of this issue is set early and the expectation for true action becomes low.
With the power of the Phoenix, I would expect that the five X-Men that have "remade the world" would have no problem finding a villain they've faced and defeated before. Kieron Gillen, however, decides that it should take them over half an issue just to find and confront Sinister. Once there, five of those pages are exhausted by Sinister's prattling of his grand plans as the X-Men set about tunneling into Sinister's lair. Gillen is very meticulous about constructing this story, but the end result is an “Avengers Vs. X-Men” tie-in issue where nothing really happens.
Naturally, Gillen has transformed Sinister to be a worthy adversary, as suits the story, but for Sinister to be so prepared and so pompous about it makes his inevitable defeat all the more inevitable and anticipated. Yes, Sinister has devised mind-bending plots before, but the Phoenix Five have changed the world, including a restoration of depleted natural resources and a generation of power for sustainability.
The posturing of the issue plays nicely to Daniel Acuña's painted art. The characters are beautiful and command a wide range of facial expressions, but overall they are rather stiff. Acuña is working with what Gillen gives him, which is a stiff story, but to his credit, Acuña is able to deliver near-iconic representations of the Phoenix Five and many of the other X-Men. Although, Namor has never looked more like Mr. Spock, otherwise it’s refreshing to see a Magneto that I recognize rather than some overly muscular Magneto-cloaked character.
The most interesting scene in this issue may actually be received as a throwaway to some readers. Colossus has a moment with Cyttorak, which is exactly what every Colossus (and Juggernaut) fan has been waiting for since seeing Piotr Rasputin ascend as one of the Phoenix Five. It's as brag-filled as the rest of the issue, but the dialog lays the groundwork for a future conundrum for Colossus. I had hoped that we would be rid of Juggerlossus with the Phoenix lighting upon Piotr, but that doesn't seem to be the case -- at least not entirely.
“Uncanny X-Men” #15 is the first of a three-part story. A great deal of this issue could be condensed, but elongating this adventure to three parts almost certainly aligns better to the longer “Avengers Vs. X-Men” main story. I just hope the next two parts are filled with the action this installment sorely lacks.