Back in 2005, the Uncanny X-Men were in a different place. Jean Grey wasn’t around, Brian Michael Bendis was wrapping up House of M, and the complexities of the mutant struggle were robust. Chris Claremont was wrapping up his final run on the series and in it he focused on Captain Britain and Otherworld, Rachel Summers’ struggle to find a family, and the truth behind Psylocke being reborn. Reading this series is like having one foot in classic Claremont X-Men and the other in a shifting new direction for the future of the X-Men. The results are a somewhat convoluted and unfocused final run, but one that is rife with character moments worth exploring.
The first four issues collected here capture Uncanny X-Men #462 to #465, focusing on Captain Britain as he attempts to keep Otherworld together. The fate of the entire universe hangs in the balance with the aid of Meggan, Psylocke, and Marvel Girl. Coupled with art by Alan Davis for two issues this feels very much like an extension of Claremont’s Excalibur run. There are twists and turns, and some awkward domestic abuse from Captain Britain, and it serves as a nice reminder of the complexities of Overwold’s place amongst Claremont’s historic run. It does feel a bit dated, especially with the old Psylocke in this story and subsequent stories in this collection, but the addition of Chris Bachalo on the last two issues makes the visuals spark and carry the story well.
Following this for the remainder of the collection is the aftermath of House of M. “No more mutants” was spoken and most mutants have lost their powers. Claremont does a good job exploring the guilt characters like Wolverine feel as they still have their powers and many more don’t. Claremont never really focuses on Wolverine now knowing his full history, but really this isn’t his story anyway. Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, and Nightcrawler appear heavily, but it’s not their story either. That said, Claremont writes these characters well. Hanging over the Xavier mansion are Sentinels, which is a major point of conflict for mutants. They’re there for “everyone’s” protection as the authorities put it.
As these characters attempt to put their lives back together after House of M Claremont focuses heavily on Rachel Summers. This is a character Claremont created with John Byrne and John Romita Jr. and it’s interesting to see him continue to evolve the character. She ends up living with her grandparents on Jean’s side and things turn south rather quickly. Rachel is a character that’s seeking family and finds it, only to have it taken away by a Shi’ar threat. There’s an attack that leads to Rachel’s grandmother disowning her which then leads to Rachel taking Doc Sampson on as a therapist, which leads to Cyclops lending a hand in being a somewhat absent father. I guess it’s awkward considering he wasn’t around much! There aren’t many healthy revelations going on though as she ends up determining she wants revenge.
The last quarter of the book focuses on Psylocke, her brother Jamie, and an entity that’s the yin to the Pheonix’s yang that is known as First Fallen. Utilizing The Watcher to add gravity to the situation we learn the First Fallen wants to freeze the universe in unchanging “perfection” as it dubs. Once again Claremont’s work is a bit convoluted with reveals and exposition required to get us to real truths. This First Fallen ends up being the reason Jamie helped resurrect Psylocke in the first place as she’s needed to defeat this threat. This ends up being the reason telepaths can’t manipulate or hear Psylocke’s thoughts. Go figure. For however big this First Fallen idea is it reveals is rushed in these final chapters considering how big of an idea it is and it falls flat.
Overall this is an interesting read as it’s a snapshot of one master X-Men creator writing his final Uncanny stories. I’d suspect he had no idea he’d be taken off though as he lays groundwork here for future stories rendering a lot of the ideas here moot since they weren’t explored much afterward. That said, you can’t help but enjoy reading these tales thanks to Claremont’s illustrious career and the fantastic artists that back him up here.
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