By: Ed Brubaker (writer), Adam Kubert (pencils), John Dell (inks), Laura Martin (colors), and Larry Molinar (letters)

The Story: Cyclops attacks K’un-Lun in an effort to bring Hope home.

The Review: Well, good news.  This issue was actually…pretty good.  That’s largely owing to the fact that the Phoenix corrupted Scott and Emma turn out to be extremely effective villains this month.  They’re compelling, particularly given that they aren’t at all bland or derivative, instead managing to stay true to their characters.  It’s “evil Scott” and “evil Emma” in the truest sense in that they are still distinctly themselves, just in a much darker light.

Scott, for instance, is the sort of guy you can’t help but hate.  Sure, he’s done a lot of good things, but man does he love reminding you of that.  As a result, he comes across as condescending and arrogant throughout.  It’s basically everything Cyclops haters loathe dialed up to 11.  Emma, on the other hand, is downright creepy.  She’s turned Utopia into her own little kingdom with its residents as her slaves; she’s fickle and cruel in a way that suits the character quite well.

Surprisingly, Magneto actually plays a pretty substantial role this month.  His conversation with Emma was very strong; you know someone is bad when Magneto of all people is calling them out for their cruelty and dictatorship.  This leads to an interesting dynamic between the two characters that winds up giving us one hell of an excellent last page.  That last page is one that’ll have you wanting the next issue pretty badly and has a great “getting the band back together” feel.  There’s nothing quite as innately satisfying as old dudes getting together one more time and that seems to be the direction we’re heading in here.

Brubaker also makes solid use of K’un-Lun as his setting.  There’s a pretty cool guest appearance this month that definitely got a reaction from me, even if it was a little too truncated.  As a huge fan of Brian Bendis’ tie-ins over in New Avengers, it’s great to see those comics coming into great effect this month.  Of course, this would be a major downside of the issue if you HAVEN’T been following New Avengers, so take my final grade with a grain of salt.  For those who’ve read those comics, and they really are quite good, this issue makes a lot of sense and has a great feeling of things coming together.  Of course, if you’ve not read those K’un-Lun issues of New Avengers, I imagine this’ll come across as being a bit random and maybe even a little cheap.

Art-wise, you really can’t go wrong with Adam Kubert drawing an event comic.  Kubert just innately gets big, event-styled storytelling.  His style just has that natural bombast to it that suits a book like th is perfectly.  The characters look great, the details look great, and he hits the big action scenes and big moments perfectly.

One minor quibble however is how quickly Scarlet Witch is basically benched this issue in a way that looks like it’ll likely last the rest of the series.  Since issue #0, she’s supposed to have been active, pivotal break-out for this series and it looks like she’s been thrown into a more passive role from here on out, all in favour of Hope Summers.  I can’t say I’m a fan of that and it’s  bit of a letdown, given that this could have easily been a great platform for Wanda and it was headed in that direction.  Instead, we get even MORE love for Hope.

Conclusion: I liked this issue, but again, I think your enjoyment might be affected by whether or not you’ve been reading New Avengers of late.  Regardless, I thought it was a lot of fun; it was an issue of big action sequences and great villains.

Grade: B

– Alex Evans