Are the new X-Men terrorists or freedom fighters?

(Panini Books)

FOR many years he was the figurehead of Charles Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence between human and mutant, the first leader of the X-Men and X-Factor, and a crusader for justice and equality. But life was never easy for Scott (Cyclops) Summers…

A chain of events starting with the apparent death of his first love Jean Grey, and culminating in the decimation of the Homo Superior population by the Scarlet Witch, resulted in a new, more ruthless side to Scott taking precedence. He led the survivors of mutantkind to sanctuary and a nation state of their own on the island of Utopia, and fought to bring his race back from the brink of extinction, leading to the catastrophic “Schism” between his team and Wolverine’s.

Then came the return of the Phoenix Force, the same celestial power source which once consumed Jean Grey, and the X-Men found themselves in bitter conflict with the heroes of the Avengers over the life of mutant messiah Hope. As revealed in the epic Avengers Vs X-Men crossover, Scott and four of his colleagues were possessed by the Phoenix, and used its great power to take control over the planet. Their eventual defeat came at a terrible price, as Scott killed his mentor and substitute father, Charles Xavier, and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned as a terrorist and murderer.

Broken free by his acolytes, Cyclops now leads a new team of X-Men including his former lover Emma Frost, the mystical teleporter Magick, and the former criminal Magneto, all of their powers affected by exposure to the Phoenix.

Their raison d’etre is the continuation of Scott’s mutant revolution, bringing together the world’s newly awakened mutants and teaching them to fight back against the oppressive human majority. It is a far cry from Xavier’s dream, but Scott stands firm in his belief that this is the only way to protect the future of Homo Superior…

X-Men writer Brian Michael Bendis obviously has a game plan for this book and its companion title All-New X-Men, and although he seems to be taking his time to slot all of his pieces into place on a multi-dimensional chessboard, it’s fair to say that he knows what he’s doing and isn’t just making it up as he goes along.

Occupying a far more morally grey area than ANXM, Uncanny explores the implications of Cyclops’ actions without shying away from the terrorist aspects of his underground team’s campaign, something you couldn’t imagine Marvel daring to do even a couple of years ago.

This is one of their oldest characters, now allied with his former arch enemy, fighting against the status quo from a position off the grid, with no hesitation about using extreme measures to achieve his aims. A fascinating development, and not without cause, the X-Men books could well be on the crux of a new golden age…