The mutant population of Earth has always faced strife. Organized hate groups, killer robots—even alien invaders have targeted those whose genetics give them powers beyond those of ordinary human beings. Yet mutant-kind may be facing their greatest crisis ever in the form of The Terrigen Mists.
Cultivated by the beings known as The Inhumans, The Terrigen Mists facilitate the superpowers of the Inhuman people, whose own genetics have been manipulated by aliens. Recent events have revealed that The Mists are toxic to mutants—a fact that has not stopped The Inhuman royal family from encouraging the spread of The Mists across the world.
Based on that, it’s no surprise that many mutants have elected to be placed in cryogenic suspension until such time as it’s safe for them to breathe. And it’s small wonder that other mutants—under the leadership of the weather-manipulating heroine known as Storm—have elected to move into the Limbo-based sanctuary known as X-Haven.
Neither of these options sit well with the mutant known as Magneto, who knows all too well the folly of trying to hide away from the world and waiting for things to get better. Though The Mists have begun to sap his strength and power, Max Eisenheart is still a fighter and desperate times call for desperate actions. To that end, Magneto has gathered a team of like-minded mutants to join him in fighting for the fate of their species.
At first Magneto intended to start with freeing those mutants whose bid to seek safety in suspended animation ended in them being turned into test-subjects for evil scientists. The mission changes, however, once Magneto and his team encounter an old enemy—The Dark Riders. Once the followers of the elitist villain Apocalypse, The Dark Riders now target those whose powers allow them to heal the sick, due to some twisted doctrine involving survival of the fittest. Will Magneto and his followers prove to be the most worthy of survival in the end?
The history of the X-men is some of the densest and most convoluted material in American comic book history. Thankfully, Cullen Bunn does a masterful job of explaining everything new readers need to know in this volume, including a rundown on the major characters and their motivations in being part of this team. While most of the characters don’t require much in the way of complex characterization (Monet is an elitist snob, Sabretooth is a murderous thug, etc.), Bunn manages some truly touching scenes and brilliant character moments. One of the best involves a conversation between Magneto and psychic ninja Psylocke regarding how Magneto chooses to manually fly the team jet rather than relying on the auto-pilot because it is one of the few times he feels in control of anything anymore.
Would that the artwork were the equal of the story and script! Greg Land has something of a reputation these days for producing fan-service heavy art and his work on Uncanny X-Men justifies that reputation. Land has been caught tracing photographic source material in order to meet his deadlines in the past and some of those photos have been of an adult nature. While nothing in this volume quite reaches the excesses in some of Land’s other work like Ultimate Power, there are several odd panels with images like Mystique licking her lips suggestively in the middle of a fight and the full outline of Monet’s breast being visible through her costume that suggest Land has not mended his ways.
Despite this, this comic does nothing to go over the line regarding its T+ rating for teens 13 years and up. There’s nothing objectionable for teen audiences here in terms of adult content or violence. However, only the most devout of X-Fans need pick this volume up. Despite some great speeches and a wonderful command of the characters, Bunn’s story breaks no ground that hasn’t been covered before and covered better in other X-Men stories. Still, as Mark Twain reportedly said, “the sort of people who like this sort of thing will like this sort of thing.”
Uncanny X-Men: Superior, vol. 1: Survival Of The Fittest
by Cullen Bunn
Art by Greg Land
Marvel Comics, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: T+ (13 and up)