by Matt Fraction (writer), Whilce Portacio (pencils), Ed Tadeo (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), and Joe Caramagna (letters)

The Story: Magneto brings Kitty home as Nation X comes to a close.

What’s Good: This is easily among the best issues of Matt Fraction’s run on Uncanny X-men, as the man who writes Invincible Iron Man shows up rather than his louder, dumbed down counter-part.

Really, this book essentially gives you everything you could want from an X-Men comic.  The opening scene is done in epic form with an excellent use of “storybook” styled narration, turning Kitty into a sort of fairytale “princess in a high tower” while relating this to Magneto’s stay with the High Evolutionary.  The storytelling feels grand in this sequence, as it should.

Beyond that, there are several great character moments, the sort that Uncanny so often lacks.  Emma Frost has a kind of confessional about Scott Summers to the mentally dormant Magneto that is touching, riveting, intelligent, and painfully honest in just one of several great scenes.

Despite the gravity of the events in this book, Fraction finds time for comedy as well.  A “travel game” between Fantomex and Wolverine certainly got a laugh out of me and was a welcome relief in a book that is otherwise very weighty.

All told-this is a beautiful issue with a number of poignant moments.  While the reunion of Colossus and Kitty is cut short, this is made up for by the issues ending montage, which wordlessly sums up the status quo after Nation X, and it really is touching.  The montage is so wonderfully executed, that you’d almost forget all of the sloppier moments that have occurred over this arc.  It makes what came before look better, which is just what a concluding issue should do.

On the art, it’s hard not to look at Portacio’s work here as accomplishing what Land strives for, and fails at, with every outing.  We have the big, splashy, impressive images and we have the hyper-realistic style, but this does not come at the cost of detail or narrative flow.  Portacio’s outing here is basically what an Uncanny X-Men should like: impressive, big-budget, epic, yet human.

The back-up, also written by Fraction but illustrated by Phil Jimenez, is magnificent and well worth the extra dollar.  While completely barely related to the X-universe, it’s a poignant and very emotionally touching tale about a world facing Armageddon.  It reminds us that Fraction, at his best, is able to move us, and that’s just what this back-up does.

What’s Not So Good: The twist regarding Kitty is a bit telegraphed and it’s somewhat of a bummer that Fraction didn’t really go whole-hog and allow her to fully come back.  I’m sure it’ll be resolved soon enough, but it does remove some of the epic-points from an already totally epic issue.  I just kind of wish Fraction just went for the whole she-bang.

Also, the manner in which Fraction conceals the oncoming bullet from the world’s eyes is a bit of a deus ex machina moment.  In order for the narrative to work, this needs to be done, so Fraction just has the X-Club build something.  To be fair, I can’t see any other way Fraction could get around this point, but it feels noticeably slapped together.

The little gaps in logic don’t end there though, as it really dogged me all issue just how Kitty could survive for that long inside of a bullet, fully conscious, without air, food, or water.  Well, unless the nature of her powers are going to be ret conned, anyway.

Conclusion: The little logic holes can be forgiven.  This is a really, really great issue.

Grade: A –

-Alex Evans