Itâs no secret that âUncanny X-Menâ is currently treading water before its 500th issue, which promises to bring the âsplit upâ team back together and get their new direction well and truly on track. In the meantime, Brubaker has shifted gear after "Messiah Complex" to tell a rather more sedate story with a lot of old school charm, as Emma and Cyclops investigate strange goings-on in San Francisco and Wolverine, Cyclops and Colossus continue their journey across Russia, where things have taken a more problematic turn.
Despite the suggestion that the series is in something of a holding pattern until #500, itâs probably the worst-kept secret in the X-verse that the team will be relocating to San Francisco in the near future, so thereâs almost certainly more going on here than meets the eye. Whether the Russia plot threads will tie into it is debatable, but with a writer as capable as Brubaker I wouldnât be surprised if they did - though equally, the idea of a standalone, road trip story for these three characters is good enough fun in its own right to justify its existence. Depicting down time is a true X-Men tradition, and Brubaker has really hit his stride with it.
The identity of the mutant causing the city to regress to the 60s is fairly vague -- Iâm a fairly big X-Men buff and I donât immediately recognize who the character is supposed to be, so in the absence of any other obvious candidates we have to fall back on the two most obvious reality/perception-warpers around - Scarlet Witch, and Lady Mastermind. The former is âAvengersâ property as far as the character goes, whereas the latter was heavily involved in "Messiah Complex," so Iâm fairly certain which itâll be. Even so, I canât be sure that Brubaker wonât pull the rug out from under the title somehow.
Speaking of Brubaker, this storyline is the first heâs done where I feel like Iâm really enjoying the situation. After being fairly underwhelmed by âRise and Fall of the Shiâarâ, Iâm finding a lot to like about his current approach of playing off the X-Men where the more traditional X-Men characters have taken center stage again. Itâs been a long time since they got any traditional superheroics to do, but with the school gone, Brubaker can really focus on that side of the concept again.
Choiâs artwork is a welcome change from the recent, grittier styles that âUncanny X-Menâ has seen, and the bright, fun colors fit the tone of the book entirely -- the idea of a city regressing to the 60s is a fairly camp concept in itself, and Choiâs artwork nicely fits that tone, with masses of attention on the small details. Heâs also good for the grander strokes, though -- the opening sequence where Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus fight some giant robots is a great piece of action-adventure, brilliantly choreographed and nicely executed. âDivided We Standâ does feel like something of a stop-gap solution, but if this is what we get as âfillerâ, I canât wait to see how good the bookâs going to be in the future.