Uncanny X-Men: X-men Disassembled is the latest reboot of the Marvel franchise in trade paperback. It is larger than most trades coming in at 248 pages instead of the regular 130-ish pages. This stems from it being a weekly comic in single issue form. Since it was a weekly there are three writers (Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg, and Kelly Thompson) with five artists (Mahmud Asrar, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Yildiray Cinar, and Pere Pérez) to keep up with publication deadlines. The prior books split the X-Men into three different teams, but this book smashes them back together featuring twenty mutant heroes. Some of the new favorites like Honey Badger are mostly absent from the storyline.

The story contains an A plot, B plot, and a C plot. The A plot is Nate Grey, known as X-Man, who kidnaps Kitty Pryde (a leader of the X-Men), anti-mutant rights politician Senator Allen, and Apocalpyse (long-time X enemy). Grey is from another timeline in which the Age of Apocalypse occurs, which is a hell dimension where Apocalypse reigns supreme. Mister Sinister (a Victorian-era mutant scientist who’s into eugenics) created him from Cyclops and Jean Grey’s DNA. He is an omega level mutant (omegas are the most powerful mutants) that has a god complex and parental issues. Nate discovers a stone called the Seed of Life that amplifies his power to an omnipotent level, but shortens his lifespan. He makes it his life purpose to usher in a new age of mutants using the people he kidnapped as a council of ideas. Since he has omnipotent powers a few of the things he does are; create a lake in the Kalahari Desert and bring dinosaurs back to the Midwest. In most of these events, Jamie Maddrox, the Multiple Man, pops up trying to find Pryde and being a problem for the X-Men. Grey also creates the Four Horsemen of Life, which is a sort of inverse on Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen. He telepathically conscripts Angel, Magneto, Omega Red, and the Blob into these roles. They are his messengers of a new world order, and they are fine with murdering anyone who gets in their master’s way. The X-Men investigate all the strange occurrences, fight the horsemen a lot, release Angel from the mind control, and he leads them to Nate where the big standoff occurs.

The B plot concerns the X-Teenagers and their feelings of always being the third string. They are on a mission with Pryde to save people working in a pharmaceutical company because the Mutant Liberation Front (a radical terrorist mutant group) is there. That mission goes sideways, and they get relegated to missions that are not the most exciting. The team is usually split between bucking authority and doing the hero thing versus listening to their X-Elders. Eventually, Legion (Professor Xavier’s unstable son who is an omega level) shows up and tells them what’s going on. He’s the one who’s been controlling Maddrox on his quest to find Pryde. What better way to find someone than by using someone who can create multiples of himself thus instant search party! The teens listen to him despite orders not to, and he leads them to Grey.

The C plot circles back to the pharmaceutical lab. The Mutant Liberation Front was trying to steal a new vaccine that could cure mutants. Beast investigates further into this vaccine and finds that it will work because it’s made from a vaccine he created yet never destroyed. Beast figures out Anole stole it and confronts him. Anole’s mutant power gives him reptilian powers and strength, but his appearance is reptilian, too, with green skin, scales, and he can regrow limbs. He doesn’t like being this way and thought that others like him should get a chance to reject this sort of life. Beast is disappointed and points out that now that humans have such a vaccine they will eliminate the threat of homo superior by force. No one will get a choice.

The book ends with a huge fight scene between all the X-Men and X-Man and his horsemen. Legion tried to contain Grey by imprisoning him in his mind, but Grey takes control of Legion. All the telepaths band together to separate them, causing Jean Grey to get sucked into Nate Grey’s mind where they have a heart to heart. She points out that he’s just following Apocalypse’s Fascist mutant blueprint which is not a good look. Nate  Grey monologues a lot about how hard it is to be a god, which Jean Grey doesn’t fall for because she was the Phoenix. She explains she gets it, but what Nate Grey doesn’t understand is the suffering he’s causing. Then she telepathically shows him. Instead of having a change of heart, Nate Grey uses his final bit of power to erase the X-Men, stating they will never understand, so they don’t deserve the world. X-man’s last act is a temper tantrum because mom doesn’t understand him. The final page shows humans going on about their business, a government-mandated anti-mutant vaccine for everyone, and a figure that looks suspiciously like the long-dead Cyclops walking out of frame.

This is not the easiest X-Men story to dive in if you are a new X-Reader because the plot lines work on the idea that you know every character. I’m a long-time X-Reader, but have some holes where I didn’t pick up a storyline, which is why I had to google Nate Grey. I knew he was related to the Age of Apocalypse era, but never followed his storyline. This book can be confusing with so many plots weaving in and out. Also, a lot of characters are in throwback costumes, which I didn’t love, such as Polaris and X-23. It felt like a step back for both of them. The Horsemen of Life’s costume design is like 90s tribal art met a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Also, Magneto’s helmet makes him immune to telepathy, so how did Nate’s telepathy override that?

It does have a lot of fun superhero comic moments, like X-23 getting swallowed by a T-Rex and then cutting her way out of its stomach, and Maddox creating so many multiples of himself that it shows up on satellite. Also, lots and lots of fight scenes for the action inclined. Despite having so many artists, the art style is consistent throughout the book, which is a triumph. The writing feels a little unbalanced with so many cooks in the kitchen. This is not a great starter X-Comic for someone looking to start fresh. If you have an X-Collection already at your library, this is an automatic buy for your X-Loving patrons. And if they aren’t excited by it, that’s okay, because Marvel relaunched the title again with the first trade coming out December 2019.

Uncanny X-Men: X-Men Disassembled
By Ed Brisson Matthew Rosenberg Kelly Thompson
Art by Mahmud Asrar R.B. Silva Adriano Di Benedetto
ISBN: 9781302914868
Marvel, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: Teen+
Series Reading Order

  • Mary N.S. Richardson

    Past Reviewer

    Mary N.S. Richardson is the Adult Services Librarian at the Cragin Memorial Library in Connecticut where she is building an awesome graphic novel collection! She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Georgia and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State University. Mary is the chair of the Graphic Novel Roundtable for the Connecticut Library Consortium. She has been reading comics since she was a kid and is a huge X-Men and Batfamily fan.

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