REVIEW: Uncanny X-Men #6 – A Sympathetic Villain

Uncanny X-Men #6

Uncanny X-Men #6 / Writers: Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson / Artist: Yildiray Cinar / Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letterer: Joe Caramagna / Publisher: Marvel / Published: December 19, 2018

Explosions are fun. Big fights, too. But what piques my interest is a bad guy who gets fleshed out and provided a sympathetic viewpoint despite his nefarious plans. Uncanny X-Men #6 does just that.

Archangel’s back and he’s none too happy. That’s where Uncanny X-Men #6 picks up—right on the heels of the previous issue. Archangel drives Magneto away only to express outrage at having himself reverted to his most violent form. The united X-Men—absent the students and Legion—go on to confront X-Man at his temple. Their first attack is completely repulsed, but before they can make a second attempt the junior X-Men show up. They approach X-Man from the standpoint of understanding why he’s doing what he’s doing and if his utopia is truly worth the destruction he’s causing to achieve it. Then Legion does a thing. Because Legion always does a thing. And it’s usually not good.

A Sympathetic Character?

I commented in a previous Uncanny X-Men review how much I appreciated the writers producing an issue that both furthered the larger plot while still telling a confined story that had a beginning, middle, and end. Once again, the writing trio of Matthew Rosenberg, Kelly Thompson, and Ed Brisson deliver an issue that has a theme unto itself: the X-Men are a bunch of screw-ups. First the X-Men bring back Archangel—an event that took place at the end of the previous issue—and then they attempt to justify their selfishness at the expense of the peace Warren has lost. Later, the X-Men, having been defeated with little to no effort on X-Man’s part, are prepared to attack again. It takes the junior X-Men to bring to bear the radical notion of talking to X-Man and trying to understand him. Ultimately it’s the older X-Men that take a “means to the end” approach toward solving the problem. The effect is an issue that makes Nate, however briefly, a sympathetic character.

Uncanny X-Men #6

The lettering duties are relatively light in Uncanny X-Men #6. Joe Carmagna’s best contribution is the harsh Archangel word balloons and the font used when he speaks. This sets Archangel apart from all involved—both X-Man’s horsemen and the X-Men who used him. One gets the feeling that Warren/Archangel is the first casualty of this contest.

Messianic Quality

When I initially read Uncanny X-Men #6 I was struck by the two page spread late in the issue when the X-Men attack X-Man. The scale of the fight makes it more dynamic, with artist Yildiray Cinar displaying the power being brought to bear on X-Man—power that he simply swats away. As exciting as the issue’s final fight is, Cinar is also more than capable of the small scale. He brings a significant level of detail to X-Man’s temple. Further, he brings a level of emotion to X-Man’s face that allows the reader to sympathize with the character rather then seeing him as a typical black hat.

As if Cinar’s work wasn’t impressive on its own, color artist Rachelle Rosenberg adds a messianic quality to X-Man by drowning out several panels in bright light that presumably emanates from X-Man himself. The bright golden light reinforces what the writers and artist have already done: create an X-Man who, despite causing problems, is a sympathetic character.

Uncanny X-Men #6

Final Thoughts

Uncanny X-Men #6 may be the best issue yet in the “Dissasembled” storyline. Until this issue, X-Man was painted as a nebulous villain—indeed, he was willing to take advice from Apocalypse of all people. At last the character is given some depth. Yes, he’s doing a basic “ends justify the means” scenario. But then so were the X-Men. It’s the young X-Men who try to understand, and through that dialogue start to reach X-Man. I will take a well-defined sympathetic villain over explosions any time.

Verdict: 4 out of 5.

Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he's published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.

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