By Matt Fraction (Writer), Terry Dodson (Pencils), Rachel Dodson (Inks), and Justin Ponsor (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: Since hitting the big #500, Uncanny X-Men has been extremely hit or miss. As such, the bigger picture being created by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker has felt extremely disjointed. On top of that, the first arc, while fun at times, was marred by some odd characterization, a fairly generic story, and divisive artwork. That said, with the beginning of the second arc featuring a new artist and a single author, I can’t help but feel that Uncanny can still be straightened out rather quickly.

The Story: This issue is all about setting up the new story arc, introducing multiple situations involving each character in the team.  While doing some soul searching, in an effort to get past the death of Kitty Pryde, Colossus is confronted with an old enemy. In addition, Emma Frost heads into the mind of Cyclops in an attempt to figure out why he has been acting strangely since the encounter with the Hellfire Cult. Also, Beast and Angel have a meeting with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Nemesis regarding the state of mutantkind and what can be done to reverse the effects of the Scarlet Witch.  Oh, and the Mojoverse comes into play as well.

What’s Good: Though very light on action, this is the best issue of Uncanny X-Men since the move to San Francisco took place. While consisting almost entirely of set up, Uncanny X-Men #504 does a good job establishing the direction of the series for the near future through interesting, entertaining character moment,s and impressive visuals. As a fan, I couldn’t be much happier with the way the issue addresses and handles the various story threads surrounding the X-Men in general.

Truth be told, the book is filled with successful moments. In particular, the surprisingly poignant Colossus segments, Matt Fraction’s extremely well-written handling of Dr. Nemesis, and Emma Frost’s encounter with the residents of the high class hotel (or mental bordello?) located within Cyclops’ mind.

What’s Not So Good: My only real complaint has to do with the overall structure of the series itself. I like how Fraction and Ed Brubaker are looking to explore all aspects of the X-Men (and mutant characters/enemies in general), but it seems as though it comes at the cost of a cohesive, long-term vision. While I have no doubt that they will be able to pull all the various threads together when the right time comes, it leaves each issue feeling a bit light. There is a bigger picture for mutantkind, but it feels like we only get a small feel of it with each passing month.

Conclusion: A stylish, well-written book all around, Uncanny X-Men #504 is easily the best issue of the series in quite some time. While I wish it had a little bit more meat to it, I can’t complain too much about something so thoroughly entertaining.

Grade: A-

Looking for a Response: Is it just me, or does the news report at the end of the issue feel long overdue? Seems to me as though the shockwaves of the event should have been felt a long time ago. Anyone else agree? Or is my grasp of the “X” timeline a bit off?

-Kyle Posluszny