Explaining issues 1-5 of the weekly X-Event; Dissembled.
If you’ve been under a giant-sized X-Men rock (get it? ‘Giant-Sized’?), then you might not be aware of what’s going on with Marvel’s Merry Mutants. The return of the titular title ‘Uncanny’ to the X-Men franchise is being overseen by three of Marvel’s X-writers in Kelly Thompson (Rogue& Gambit, Mr. and Mrs. X), Ed Brisson (Cable, Dead Man Logan), and Matthew Rosenberg (Astonishing X-Men). ‘Why three’, you ask? Did I mention this is a weekly event? It’s a thing Marvel has been doing as of late, most notably with the Avengers event No Surrender, which also had several hands involved in the writing process. Here is a breakdown of the first 5-weeks of ‘Dissasembled’.
Uncanny X-Men #1
Uncanny X-Men #1boasts nearly 300 pages, and the story is established firmly between its covers. With so much space, a modern day reader might expect a slog of a read. Panels consisting more of word bubbles than art, and pages of characters blankly starring. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. The 290 pages whizzed by quickly (at least for me) as the bizarre mystery within the plot kept me engaged. The tale begins with Jean Grey being mesmerized by a vision; the X-Men in the battle against a horde of Madrox dupes all asking the same question: ‘Where is Kitty Pryde?’ Jean comes out of the trance and immediately enquires the same.
The young X-Men leader is out with a group of trainees (Anole, Pixie, Glob Herman, Armor, Rockslide and Oya) in response to an attack on a factory by one of the most obscure X-Men villains out there; Forearm (don’t be upset if you don’t recognize the very 90’s character). For reasons presently unknown, Kitty phases through and out of their Blackbird jet. With its electrical systems shorted out (a known side effect of Kitty’s phasing) the jet crashes fantastically into the factory. Meanwhile X-Men Storm and Beast are in Africa investigating the reason as to why a desert has not just flooded and become a lake but suddenly host to aquatic life.
Back at the crash site, the trainees are confronted by members of the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front, a 90’s era team of mutant big-bads) including Wildchild, Samurai, Strobe, Dragoness and yes, Forearm. With Oya and Anole gravely injured in the crash, the others are left to engage the crew of C-list villains, that is until Madrox arrives. Not there to assist the children, he asks the barely conscious Anole of Kitty’s whereabouts. Upon learning of her disappearance, he laments his ill-timing and runs off. Finally, the real X-Men arrive. The team of Nightcrawler, Polaris and X-23 make comically short-work of the MLF.
Elsewhere, Bishop, Jubilee, Cannonball, Angel, Psylocke, Northstar, Jean, and Bobby are awaiting Kitty’s arrival at a political rally in Manhattan that is quickly getting out of hand as a Senator hypes up his base. The situation is made worse when Madrox shows up on the podium, again demanding the whereabouts of Kitty. However, this time he’s not alone, with him is that horde of dupes Jean foresaw earlier.
With no other options in hand, the X-Men engage the mob of Madroxes. In the midst of the fray, Angel begins to seemingly talk to himself and flies off without a word to his companions. The X-Men are quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of dupes, but the fight ends as the Senator, much like Kitty, vanishes into thin air. Disappointed, the Madroxes then immediately stand down and do much of the same.
The 1st issue’s main story ends with Kitty, and the Senator tied up to chairs in an otherwise empty room. Coming to, Kitty immediately realizes her powers aren’t available to her. As the Senator begins to accuse her of being responsible, a voice booms from another direction. Apocalypse is among them, also restrained; bound to a large “X”.
Uncanny X-Men #2
Still left completely in the dark, the X-Men are forced to put what just occurred on the back-burner as they respond to more pressing matters. Dinosaurs rampaging in Montana. Yes. Dinosaurs. Leaving the trainees behind, the team splits up; half going on a dinosaur hunt and the other to investigate another Madrox-rooted disturbance in Kansas. While the team struggles to get the supposedly extinct animals under control in Montana, the situation in Kansas escalates as the Madrox horde has not just increased, but are individually displaying unique powers. Despite caveats from the Madroxes, the X-Men engage them, and again, are quickly overwhelmed.
At the mansion, which is presently surrounded by angry protestors, a figure calmly and quietly approaches the front doors. Together, the trainees answer it and are taken aback as the visitor introduces himself as the son of the late Professor Charles Xavier, Legion. Seemingly in control of all his facets and no longer erased from reality, Legion announces his intention to ‘save the day’ to the students and against their better judgment, invite him in (as if they could otherwise stop him).
Uncanny X-Men #3
Back in Kansas, Jean and her team of dino-wranglers join the rest of the X-Men. With several injured, Jean and Psylocke’s combined efforts are able to ‘shutdown’ the Madroxes’ minds. The team then finds the original Madrox. He explains that Legion kidnapped him and had forced him to create dupes. Legion then implanted each duplicate with one of his personalities. At the mansion, after learning of the X-Men’s actions from the kids, Legion reacts… poorly. The trainees find themselves regretting the decision to let Legion in as they are forced to engage the god-like young man to little success.
The X-Men return to the mansion and take on Legion with both Bishop and Jean retaining their memories of him. Similarly to the trainees, the X-Men do little more than keep his attention before another faction arrives. Magneto, Angel, Omega Red, and the Blob appear to the group of quarreling mutants and refer to themselves as ‘The Horsemen of Salvation’. After Magneto calls for an end to all war, he rebukes the X-Men and destroys the mansion.
Uncanny X-Men #4
The Horsemen of Salvation hover above the destruction and scattered bodies of the X-Men. With their mission seemingly complete they leave the area. Unbeknownst to them, while the demolition of the mansion was certainly real, everything else was a glamor created by Jean. Armor was able to use her powers to shield the group from the blast. The team then falls back to an untouched subbasement (you’d think Angel and Magneto would have checked that…) with a subdued, yet more unhinged Legion.
During a bout of nearly incoherent rambling, he (with some help from Bishop) explains that his intentions were pure. Legion explains that his original plan was to stop the source of all the global unrest, Nate Grey, X-Man. Legion also reveals that he was the source of Jean’s visions in the first issue- another failed attempt to warn them. Concurrently, X-Man moves forward with his strategy and does what should be impossible for a single person. He connects with every mind on Earth, making his intentions known to all. In the midst of forming a response, the X-Men pick up on two more locations that are being visited by Nate’s Horsemen, the team splits up to confront them with the trainees begrudgingly deciding to stay back with Legion.
Uncanny X-Men #5
In the country Chernaya, the X-Men team of Storm, Cannonball, Psylocke, Nightcrawler, Jubilee and Polaris engage the Horsemen, Magneto and Angel. Meanwhile, X-Man reveals his reason for holding Kitty, Apocalypse, and the Senator captive. He intends on using them as a small-counsel to challenge his choices as he attempts to bring real peace to the world. The Senator representing anti-mutant sentiment, Kitty as the pro, and Apocalypse acting as a radical balance between the two. To make his intentions clear, acting on Apocalypse’s unchallenged recommendation, X-Man erases the Vatican, Mecca, and Thiruvananthapuram.
Back at the mansion the X-Men trainees, working alongside Legion, uncover Cerebro. Together, they plan to decypher X-Man’s exact whereabouts. Meanwhile, in the embroiled Chernaya, Polaris attempts to reason with her father, but it’s fruitless as their conversation quickly turns into an all-out conflict between the two. Cannonball succeeds in blindsiding Angel and drops him in range of Psylocke. Like Polaris before her, Betsy tries to talk Warren down, but it’s also to no avail. In a last-ditch effort to undo his brainwashing, Psylocke hits him with her psi-sword unleashing the savage Archangel.
It has been a long while since I’ve really enjoyed an X-Men event. At the halfway point the story has been impressive. Though it does concern me that it’s taken this much time and so many creators. You don’t need to be a pre-cog to see what Marvel’s intentions are for this. They are breaking the X-Men down for a brand-new status quo- so I guess the title ‘Dissasembled’ makes sense. Thank goodness it doesn’t involve a cloud or a firebird space-god or at least not yet. Check back in 5 weeks for part two of the wrap-up!