Kieron Gillen gets a juicy bit of storytelling in this month's "Uncanny X-Men" #17 as he pits the seemingly unstoppable essence of the Phoenix against the seemingly unstoppable perfection that Sinister has created in Sinister London.
Sinister's plans for the Phoenix -- to funnel the power into six Madelyn Pryor clones he's created -- is fun, and there's a nice cyclicality in having it ultimately be Emma Frost that urges the Phoenix Force into a rebellion that appears to destroy Sinister (along with all he's built). Any time a character tries to control something uncontrollable, readers know it's likely to backfire, but Gillen makes it interesting enough to be a good ride.
Unfortunately, when everyone and everything has been built up to be so powerful, the resolution is almost always a bit disappointing. And that holds true here, though until that point it's a pretty entertaining read. I especially appreciate that Gillen has not lost his sense of humor as so many of the X-books have of late -- apparently anything touching the idea of the Phoenix has to make things serious all the time. The levity Gillen uses here, mostly thanks to Psylocke, is a welcome relief.
The art by Daniel Acuna and Mike Del Mundo with an assist from Diego Olmos is a strange combination that I found surprisingly compelling. It's not as pretty and controlled as a book with art solely by Acuna, but there's an attitude to the art that works. Frequently, multiple artists on a book can be really distracting and confusing, but there's almost a seamlessness to the way that Acuna and Mundo's art works together here, perhaps just because they're both so good, that makes the visuals intriguing instead of distracting.
"Uncanny X-Men" hasn't been a book that has worked for me as much as I would have liked over the last year, considering how much I like both the characters and Kieron Gillen as a writer, but reading this issue makes me realize that my issue has mostly been with the art. Not much can be done about that, but it sure is nice to enjoy this book with a great creative team that can deliver on all fronts.