Comic Culture With Rafa #001

The Boys Are Back in Town: A Return to Form in Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019)

A review from Rafael Encinas

When you think of iconic partnerships in comic books, what comes to mind? For me, personally, I’ve always been partial to the dynamic of the Cyclops/Wolverine relationship. Two leaders; two heroes; two generals of a dying species. There are few as iconic as these two X-Men; two characters with so much rich history. This is why it is unfortunate that so many casual fans only think about the Scott, Logan, Jean love triangle, especially when there is so much more to these characters.

For the past forty-plus years, we have had some wild events with these two at the epicenter. Moments of apocalypse, onslaughts, and decimations, these two have had some incredible highs. But unfortunately, their complex bromance hit some lows, especially with an all-time low with the forced “Schism” event in 2011, and then they both died… eventually.  

But with the release of yesterday’s Uncanny X-Men #11 (2019), consider me hype for a new chapter in their rocky relationship. Hold onto your hats because THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN! And they are not messing around.

It is hard to put into words the amount of nuanced emotion and complexity in the return of the Last Two X-Men. If you haven’t been reading Uncanny X-Men… the recently resurrected Cyclops and Wolverine have come back to a world in where all the X-Men are gone. Mutants are on the verge of extinction once again. Please check out Chris’ Comic Book Corner for additional details about issue 11.  

But basically, Cyclops is back facing a hostile world where all his allies are nowhere to be found. As he searches for his fallen comrades and dispersed people, the issue culminates into a big confrontation between Cyclops and the who’s who of mutant hate groups.

This scene plays out with a heightened sense of intensity because you know the fight is about to go down. But it is one man, Scott Summers, who we all know if no slouch when it comes to confrontation or impossible odds, but it still feels tense, and you feel the danger and peril for Cyclops mounting. We get a wise crack from Reaver commander, Donald Pierce who basically laments at the death of all mutants and mockingly states, “What’s it like knowing your friends all died, the world doesn’t care, and that you’re going to die all alone?” 

These are powerful words. And the tension is palpable. Cyclops was about to go down in a blaze of glory, and if only there was someone to help him. And then the greatest moment in recent comic book history occurs:

There are no words to express my feelings of elation to see Wolverine come back from the dead and to join forces with Cyclops once again after so many years of mutant politics and hostile estrangement. After the conflict of the mutant schism and the disaster of the Avenger/Mutant conflict, and the heightened tensions over Cyclops’ Mutant Revolution, we see the personal strife, turmoil, and anger these two X-men had for one another come to a head in an act of mutual understanding and Mutant cooperation. They realize there is something more important than their petty ideologies and imagined slights. We see two titans come together for the greater good. A reunion. A return to form. Best Friends Once Again! Reunited And It Feels So Good!

And this is the power of comics. Moments like these that make you feel emotional payoff and impact that comes from years of reading these fictional allegories to very real issues and narratives. This reunion made me nostalgic for all the moments Cyclops and Wolverine fought side by side. And this is important because I am not the only one to feel this way. Comics transcend one’s own thoughts and opinions. It becomes a medium for people to connect and realize their shared love and joy for fictional characters.

In reading Uncanny X-Men #11, it was in this moment that I remembered a comment I saw on Reddit a while back from user bigkr88. The reddit user talked about the bond that both Scott and Logan shared; a bond of brotherhood, and the gravity that that title holds for both men.  More so than any other pair of heroes, I would argue these two have the strongest brotherly bond out of most Marvel Comic Book characters. I mean they fought together, side by side, for decades in a world that did not thank them and wanted them dead.

At the end of the day, Scott and Logan were brothers. The term “friends” does not do their complex relationship justice. I mean, brothers fight. Brothers argue. Brothers hate each other. Brothers stop talking to one another, but when it really counts and things go down, brothers will come together no matter how far they have drifted apart. The relationship between these two icons is more than just a simple friendship. Dealing with the end of the world and the end of their species on a day to day basis really puts things into perspective. And doing this together for so many years is meaningful.

And this isn’t just fan conjecture. We can see similar lamentations in the pages of the comics themselves.

Wolverine himself contemplates in X-Men: Prelude to Schism #4: “I’ve been to the end of the universe with you. Been your rival. Been Your friend. We’ve seen some rough times and had a few good ones.”

Cyclops reciprocates these feelings when he thinks back in the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan #1: “Despite our differences over the years, we share one thing in common: We were there… for all of it. We lost friends. Buried sons. But we never stopped… until I broke things.”

Though these two iconic X-Men would be too proud to say these word out loud to one another, which can be frustrating (JUST HUG EACH OTHER ALREADY), one can see the mutual respect they have for one another that is earned on the battlefield. I mean these two faced so many extinction level events for the safety of their people. Fellow redditer bigkr88 really puts this into powerful words:

“They fought, they suffered the same losses, they watched the same friends and loved ones die sometimes repeatedly, and in the end, it was always these two standing there on the remains of the battlefield.    They’re brothers in arms in a way that the word “friend” doesn’t BEGIN to describe what they were, and quite frankly after one died, it was only a matter of time before the other did. Wolverine was just a hypocritical killing machine without Cyclops to measure his morality against, and Cyclops was just an authoritarian rebel with a dying cause without Wolverine to show him what the dark side of their conflict could become.”    

Ultimately, both characters are at their best when they are together, fighting the monsters that want to see them dead. Therefore, to have them come back together and not miss a beat; to take on the oppressors that systematically eliminated their people feels good. It feels right. And they would think so too. We are witnessing comic greatness at its finest. We are witnessing a significant moment in the mutant and marvel ethos. Cyclops and Wolverine are back. They are not pulling punches. They are back with a vengeance to remind the world that the mutant species will not go out with a whimper, but with a bang.

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