Review: Uncanny X-Men #522

Cover to Uncanny X-Men 522, by Terry Dodson.

Terry Dodson puts the focus on Kitty Pryde.

“Ghostly”

Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller: Whilce Portacio
Inker: Ed Tadeo
Colorist: Justin Ponsor

It’s not like I can spoil this book for you, after Fraction Twittered it yesterday afternoon: yes, Kitty Pryde is finally out of the Breakworld bullet and back among the X-Men. Of course, this being one of Matt Fraction’s books, nothing’s as simple as it seems, and the implications for the entire X-contingent are… less positive than you’d think.

I wasn’t too keen on the last issue of Uncanny I reviewed– too much of the U-Men, too much boggling Greg Land art, just too much. Happily, this issue tones down the emphasis on John Sublime and his U-Men, shifts the focus back to Utopia, and starts to hint at the future direction of the title. Sure, Whilce Portacio serves up the occasional weirdly foreshortened limb, but the art competently conveys the narrative while avoiding “WA” moments.

And it’s a good narrative. Kitty’s return is a straight callback to some of Claremont’s finer late-80s plotlines. Magneto continues to be the man on the scene, managing to advance his personal agenda while being effectively catatonic for the entire issue. The X-Club, and especially the snarky Warren Ellis stand-in Dr. Nemesis, get substantial screen time as they work out ways to avert the potential danger of the Breakworld bullet’s arrival on Earth. Danger shows up, and her behavior makes it clear that her recent humbling at Hisako’s hands in Nation X had a positive effect. Hell, Reed Richards makes a cameo to drop some science on the assembled Utopians, and to let us know that the X-Men’s days of running a renegade state may be coming to an end.

This is all solid, solid stuff, now that we’re out of the U-Men weeds for the moment. There’s a clear dramatic arc here, the editorial oversight is in place, and plans are being laid for Uncanny’s upcoming three-issue participation in Second Coming. All of the tiny tensions and interpersonal struggles are starting to come together around Kitty’s return, and it’s about time (although relative event timing isn’t the fault of individual Marvel creative teams).

Fraction and Phil Jimenez deliver a short backup story in this issue, a clever parable about apocalyptic thinking set on a world that suddenly finds itself without an apocalypse. It’s a nice antidote to the current rash of 2012 hysteria, and it’s as solidly executed as you’d expect from a team like this.

Also, I stand by my contention from last time: Magneto’s still going to have three-quarters of mutantkind offering to buff his helmet for him by the time the big event is over. Never count Erik out of a good political crisis, self-induced massive trauma or not.

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