War of the Realms was the culmination of years of painstaking storytelling by Jason Aaron, mostly in his monumental and inevitably classic Thor books. He was eventually talked into making it a gigantic, line-wide event, leading to some important contributions from surprisingly unrelated characters like Punisher and Daredevil.
But where were the world’s mutants in all this? Doing not much of anything in War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men.
The meat of this volume is the three-issue tie-in mini-series of the same name, written by then-Uncanny X-Men scribe Matthew Rosenberg. Some of the marketing copy for the the story called it an integral part of Rosenberg’s grander narrative, but it’s kind of hard to understand why. Multiple Man and Magik are here, but they don’t really show anything other than being utilities for the other characters. Sabretooth appears and causes mayhem, but that could fit into any story.
While Cyclops and company make up part of humanity’s last defense, Dani Moonstar and Wolfsbane take on much more Asgardian adventures. Truthfully, these probably should have been emphasized more than they were, as Moonstar’s Valkyrie is always a fan-favorite appearance and much more relevant to War of the Realms. Wolfsbane settles the situation with the godlike father of her child, which should be satisfying to die hard fans, though maybe more so if it had been given time to develop.
But then, the mysterious inclusion of Uncanny X-Men #17 here might turn them right back off. This issue features the controversial murder of Rahne Sinclair, and Cyclops presiding over yet another funeral. It’s written well, whether you agree with some of the language and implications or not, but it really has no apparent connection to the rest of the material.
There there are two 10-page stories from War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 that don’t have X-Men characters at all. But hey, they’re pretty good! Devin Grayson somehow finds a way to put a new twist on a Dr. Strange/Nightmare story, and Anthony Oliveira develops the characters of Wiccan and Hulking, as well as that of their antagonist, through unexpected means.
Pere Pérez and Rachelle Rosenberg do a fine job on the art for War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men, with sharp enough lines to communicate the bleakness, and cold colors for the frost giants and bright hots for explosions. Carlos Gomez and Guru-eFX tell a great story on Uncanny X-Men #17, with cascading panel layouts and expressive faces. Paul Davidson and Andres Mossa make Nightmare a little more cartoony than frightening, and Nick Robles and Chris Peter set the perfect tone for Wiccan and Hulkling with joyful pencils and pastel colors.
As a whole, War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men comes off as a mishmash of stories that have nothing to do with each other, buttressed by one that probably doesn’t have a need to exist in the first place. The stuff from War Scrolls is good, but maybe … just go buy that issue? You’ve probably already read Uncanny X-Men #17, and the event tie-in suffers from trying to deal with both typical X-Men things and the otherworldly at the same time, when picking one or the other would have allowed for a more cohesive narrative. Strange decisions all around.