by Matt Fraction (writer), Greg Land (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsors (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Magneto tries to make his position clear and Nation X faces its first attack/invasion.

What’s Good: Magneto is the obvious star of the show here.  Fraction does a solid job of writing the character.  His voice is enjoyable, at once likable and yet impossible not to find suspicious, always carrying that air of sophistication, intelligence, and power.

What’s even better is how his very presence alone only deepens the already present cracks between X-Men.  If anything, Fraction uses Magneto not just as a character, but also as a kind of social phenomenon among Nation-X’s residents.  This leads to a particularly interesting legitimization of Scott, as he puts Professor X in line.  It makes the issue feel intelligent, something that Uncanny sorely needs.

Magneto is also a good fit ideologically within Nation X in his non-combative stance.  It allows a number of interesting discussions.  His conversation with Cyclops over the possibility of continuing the mutant race is a definite highlight, with Scott’s stance of hope standing nicely in contrast to Magneto’s noble pessimism.  It’s a nice debate with both characters occupying rather touching positions.

Art-wise, Greg Land, overall, actually does a pretty good job.  Magneto looks good, with one double-page spread detailing Magneto’s recent history with the High Evolutionary being very impressive.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is probably my favourite Uncanny cover in a long time.  Nightcrawler is also very well done, whether static or in motion.  Thankfully, much of this issue is dialogue, meaning Land can stick to the basics.

What’s Not So Good: That said, Land, even on a good month, commits an atrocity.  This month, I was stunned to see Land seemingly re-use images from last month.  There is one particular panel featuring the mysterious new crew of baddies, with Bouncing Bettie and Verre in the background.  I’m pretty damned sure that Land just took prominent images of the two characters from last month’s issue and pasted them in, hoping that just because they’re now in the background, we won’t notice.  Then later, he uses the same image of Bouncing Bettie again in another panel.  Now, perhaps this is just a case of Land re-using a photo-reference, but it sure doesn’t look it.

Speaking of cutting corners, Fraction clearly wanted to quickly create a rift between Xavier and Summers over Magneto, but chose not to do it in any logical manner.  Magneto removes his helmet and invites the X-Men to read his mind.  Why then would Xavier assume Magneto’s guilt without using his telepathy, let alone launch a psychic attack?  It’s a shame, as the Xavier/Cyclops dynamic is a good one here, but Xavier’s actions didn’t make sense.

Beyond this, I felt that scenes with Scalphunter went on a little too long.  I also don’t feel that Fraction has yet settled on bad-guy leader Lobe’s voice, which veers wildly between formal and colloquial in a manner that’s just strange.

Conclusion: It’s actually a pretty good issue of Uncanny, and mainly because Magneto rules!

Grade: B –

-Alex Evans