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Jul 19

War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

(Imagine here the sound of deep sighing.)

So.  These three issues aren’t technically part of Uncanny X-Men.  But they are written by Matthew Rosenberg, and they carry “legacy” numbers #635-637, which would place them between Uncanny X-Men #15-16 – just before Rahne leaves, in other words.  They also smooth over the plot a little bit, in terms of things like Hope becoming a member of the team.  So imagine if Rosenberg’s main story had been interrupted by a three-issue crossover arc between chapters five and six, basically.

War of the Realms grows out of a long-running Thor storyline, and basically involves a whole load of Asgardian baddies invading Earth and having a great big war.  And that’s not the best set-up for a tie-in with Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men.

If you don’t have any involvement in the main plot – and Uncanny doesn’t – then War of the Realms is just one of those stories in which civilisation is nearly destroyed by a massive disaster which everyone will have forgotten about in six months time, and the tie-in heroes’ job is just to save a few people and hold the line while fretting about the end of the world.  Except… Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men is already a story about a bunch of desperate characters clinging on by their fingernails.  So doing a War of the Realms tie-in is kind of the same thing, except on a bigger scale and with less resonance for the X-Men.

Luckily for Rosenberg, he has two characters on hand who do have a more direct stake in matters Asgardian, even if they aren’t particularly connected to the plot of War of the Realms.  He’s got Dani Moonstar, and she’s a Valkyrie.  And he’s got Wolfsbane, who had a brief fling with an Asgardian wolf prince called Hrimhari back in the 80s.  It’ll have to do.

So the X-Men find themselves in New York saving the bystanders from Asgardian invaders.  Dani, being a Valkyrie, feels drawn to join her colleagues on the front line.  Rahne goes after her and winds up fighting Sabretooth, who has randomly allied himself with Malekith.  (He went back to being a bad guy at the end of Weapon X.)  Hrimhari is here to try to get her out of trouble and naturally she’s too heroic to simply abandon everyone and on the run with him.  You know the deal.  The rest of the team pretty much get to spend three issues being “holding the line” heroes.

I couldn’t care less about War of the Realms, which obviously isn’t a great start.  But it’s also rather hard to get invested in a Rahne story published after she’d already been killed off in the main title.  On top of that, Sunspot shows up to join the fight here, for absolutely no apparent reason other than to get casually killed off in a clumsy attempt to raise the stakes.  That’s despite him having been a major character recently in other books, mind you.  Any attempt at a heroic final battle is undercut by the pointless, unremitting bleakness here.

It looks nice enough.  Pere Perez draws a decent battle sequence.  But if I had to sum up my basic reaction to the book, it’s intensely irritating.  When I reviewed the first part of Rosenberg’s Uncanny, I was reserving judgment somewhat.  But this has many of the things I like least about his run – an overreliance on killing off characters or doing nasty things to them, a sense of self-important darkness – without the sense that it might, at least, all be heading somewhere.  It’s not just the fact that it’s a pointless crossover; it’s the fact that gratuitous nastiness keeps on happening even in a pointless crossover.  Alarm bells ring when you bring in a character like Roberto into a story like this, seemingly for the sole purpose of killing him off to add short-term weight to a story that would probably be better off as froth anyway.

It won’t stick, of course, but that’s not the point.  The book feels dreary and annoying and like it’s casting around for content.  There’s an excessive unpleasantness to some of Rosenberg’s stories that reminds me of Mark Millar, but while Millar at least seemed to be going over the top in a spirit of gleeful nihilism, Uncanny feels clumsily over-serious.  Technically it’s more than competent, mind you.  But it’s no fun at all.

Bring on the comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Can we get a full tally of the X-characters Rosenberg has killed off?

    Multiple Man
    Strong Man
    Banshee (?)

    and many, many more

  2. “…for absolutely no apparent reason other than to get casually killed off in a clumsy attempt to raise the stakes.”

    Wow, this doubles a concise and accurate review of Rosenberg’s time on the book as a whole.

  3. Chris says:

    Multiple Man
    Strong Man
    Banshee (?)

    That’s a lot of female, POC and characters who can’t pass “as normal” to kill off to motivate to predominant white male characters.

  4. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Banshee’s alive. He’s in the preview for Hickman’s House of X.

    I think that’s kind of far-fetched. Especially that ‘passing’ comment, literally all of them could ‘pass’, only Chamber needs a scarf to do it. (And Warlox, I guess that depends on the artist…)

  5. Ben says:

    Overall War of the Realms was actually pretty darn good. Including most of the tie-ins.

    Uncanny X-Men and Giant Men being the exceptions.

    I was saving this until Paul got to his review, but since you guys brought it up.

    Sugar Man (murdered)
    Anole (released mutant cure to the public, commuting genocide)
    Blindfold (suicide)
    Strong Guy (blown up)
    Morlocks (massacred)
    Cyclops (lost an eye via magic bullet)
    Hope (turned into murderer, eye shooter)
    Joseph (decapitated)
    Wolfsbane (allowed herself to be beaten to death by first bros)
    Harpoon (burned alive by Chamber)
    Scalphunter (burned alive by Chamber)
    Vertigo (burned alive by Chamber)
    Arclight (burned alive by Chamber)
    Malice (burned alive by Chamber)
    Blockbuster (burned alive by Chamber)
    Chamber (becomes mass murderer, then murdered)
    Vanisher (murdered)
    Dark Beast (murdered)
    Shinobi Shaw (suicide)
    Gorgeous George (murdered)
    Ruckus (murdered)
    Hairbag (murdered)
    Ramrod (murdered)
    Triage (depowered)
    Velocidad (mercy killed)
    Banshee (murdered)
    Magick (depowered, turned into demon)
    Emma Frost (let supervillain cut into her brain)
    Juggernaut (depowered)
    Clone Mister Sinister (murdered)
    Havok (murdered)
    Warlock (killed)
    Multiple Man (killed, again)
    Fabian Cortez (vaporized)
    Sunspot (killed)
    Sabertooth (decapitated yet again)
    Loa (killed, forgot about this one)

  6. Chris V says:

    I would guess most of this will all be revered during Hickman’s run.
    I think Rosenberg is purposely being as dark and bleak as possible in order to pave the way for the next relaunch.

    It seems like Hikcman’s run is going to be a much more positive direction for mutants….hopefully, something more along the lines of Grant Morrison’s run again.

    The deaths from this run will be reversed somehow.
    I mean, if you’re going to go for “humans hate mutants more than ever, and mutants are at their lowest ebb!” after seeing that exact same plot constantly reused over and over again, why not go for as depressing a direction as possible.
    Lots of senseless killing and horrible, over-the-top actions.
    Then, you can go in a different direction afterwards.

    Yeah, it’s not that pleasant to read though.

  7. CJ says:

    What’s the point of death if there is no finality? Even the illusion of it?

    I guess the cast over in the now-ended Age of X-Man should consider themselves lucky to be spared.

    The gratuitous death reminds of the dark days of the Kyle & Yost Decimation era of New X-Men.

  8. Joseph S. says:

    This series could have filled in some gaps in Rhane’s death in the main series, by giving her motivation to be reunited with Hrimhari and Tear (or whatever) but I’m not sure that the series actually sells this. But for now I’ll accept it as head cannon, because her death made no sense and was a problematic on many levels.

    Happy this era is over.

  9. Col_Fury says:

    Re: Joseph S.
    That’s my head canon for Rhane as well.

    If nothing else, it was fun seeing Nanny and Orphan Maker again. *shrug*

    And, I also enjoyed War of the Realms overall. The Champions issue where Cyclops is reunited with his “old friends” was a lot of fun. TO ME, MY CHAMPIONS! 🙂

  10. Nate S. says:

    @Ben: Anole isn’t really at fault with regards to the cure. Remember, Emma was the one who controlled him into doing that at the behest of Callahan, so that he wouldn’t kill her (which is wildly out of character). And still no explanation of why Beast would create such a thing in the first place.

  11. Voord 99 says:

    I think that still counts as a terrible thing happening to Anole, though, which I think is Ben’s point. I’m assuming that the depowerings on his list weren’t voluntary, either(?)

    The Kyle and Yost parallel is interesting. Those comics weren’t actually all that bad, just … too much. But I can’t help noticing that the “Disassembled” tag locates this in nostalgia for that same general era in Marvel comics.

    Which is the question I would have – I quite like that period myself in some ways, but are people really *nostalgic* for it? In that very specific superhero-comics way of being nostalgic, where nostalgia for the past serves as a touchstone that enriches the reading experience of the present story. Maybe they are, but I don’t read people attaching those overused words like “classic” and “iconic” to stories of that period (with some exceptions – Planet Hulk would be one). How active is that period in collective memory at all?

    It gives me that sense of “rat pressing the lever because it’s been trained to expect cheese,” that Marvel editorial are directing creators to do these things because they’re the sort of things that Marvel editorial directs creators to do.

  12. sam says:

    I agree that probably many of the characters who’ve died in the Rosenberg run will return in the Hickman reboot, and I agree that this is a lazy way to do things, and I agree that this all compares poorly to the Kyle/Yost New X-Men, which also killed off a lot of people gratuitously but had better characterization.

    But I’ve still kind of liked Rosenberg’s run. I can’t quite figure out why; its propulsiveness has certainly been missing from X-books for me for a while.

    One thing Paul’s been saying for years that is absolutely correct is that the X-Men need to leave behind “mutants as a species are on the edge of extinction” stories. That basic story outline needs a rest for at least five years, maybe more.

    I know this will never happen, but I do believe the stories would be better if Marvel editorial 1) took control over whether long-term characters like Sunspot were allowed to die, 2) used this power sparingly, and 3) let the characters stay dead more than 90% of the time. We need good character deaths that matter in these stories. As much as I love Kurt, I thought his death in Second Coming was meaningful for the overall story of the X-Men and should have been allowed to be permanent. Like I said, will never happen, because people want new Nightcrawler stories in continuity, but I think it would be better.

  13. Chris V says:

    I did like Rosenberg’s run initially.
    I didn’t mind the idea of moving in to some very grim territory for a while, especially if the next relaunch was going to be based around a more positive direction for mutants.

    However, it’s really moved in to over-the-top, “torture porn”-type areas.
    I’m also reminded somewhat of Warren Ellis’ Ruins comic.
    There was some perverse enjoyment to Ellis’ series, but it also only lasted for two issues.

  14. Ben says:

    Yeah I was just trying to point out all the bad shit that happened to characters, including making amazingly dumb somewhat out of character decisions.

    I didn’t even get into the really insane thing of the X-Men helping known psychopath mad scientist Dark Beast spread a child murder virus all over the world.

    And all of this in like 15 issues.

  15. SanityOrMadness says:

    And the announcements today make Rosenberg’s spree seem even more pointless – especially New Mutants, starring Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Chamber and Magik! (Along with Moonstar, Karma, Cypher and, from the random grabbag, Mondo)

  16. Ben says:

    Well, the announcements are out, and the new books are certainly written and drawn by people.

    And yes, some of this seems already undone which baffles me as to why they even did it in the first place.

    At least it’s a clear direction.

  17. SanityOrMadness says:


    I think the problems may be that (a) no-one told Rosenberg what Hickman was doing, (b) Rosenberg knew his was a filler run and trying too hard to make it seem otherwise and (c) editorial didn’t put their feet down to make it all work.

  18. Ben says:

    Oh I don’t entirely blame him.

    Marvel decided we needed a rapid release filler book to kill time.

  19. Nate S. says:

    It seems to me that Rosenberg was trying to do his own grimdark version of the Australian era in a much shorter time. It was weird that he’d even attempt it. I found some of the characters OOC, but I found their anger and grief to be well-written and I love Rosenberg’s dialogue. It had more humor than the x-men usually have. I’d say the run was mixed overall.

    Also, has anyone noticed that the new books appear to mimic to some degree the Age of X titles but in the 616? I’m sure it wasn’t an accident, but I don’t think Marvel has ever done that before.

    X-men = Marvelous X-men
    Excalibur = Apocalypse and the X-Tracts
    New Mutants = Nextgen
    X-Tremists = X-Force
    Prisoner X = Fallen Angels

  20. Luis Dantas says:

    Have we learned anything about Layla Miller?

    I for one wanted Jamie Maddrox’s happy ending in X-Factor to stick or at least get some recognition. Did it?

  21. Luis Dantas says:

    So let’s see if I got this right…

    As 2017 began we had three X-Men ongoings (Extraordinary, Uncanny Vol 4, All-New Vol 2), all of which ended that same year without surpassing the 20 issues mark.

    Still in 2017 X-Men: Blue and X-Men: Gold both debuted, as did Astonishing X-Men. They made it to 36, 36 and 17 issues respectively, and did not complete two years. X-Men: Red debuted in 2018 and lasted 11 issues, despite presumably being meant as an ongoing. Now we had, what, 22 issues of Uncanny Vol 5 and a total of 32 issues of the Age of X-Man temporary event.

    Maybe it is just me, but it feels like there is simply not enough time to ever consolidate any status quo. The rosters carry ever more continuity weight, and there is ever less effort put at explaining who the characters are or why we should care about them. Many of the latest series, even presumed ongoings, seem almost designed to have a clear expiration date and leave no lasting effects.

    At this point I wonder if Marvel even wants to have ongoing X-Men books anymore. I get the sense that many of the recent attempts were remarkably short and inconsequential, leaving lots of unanswered questions and ignored plots, feeling more like one-shot mystery novels published in a rather sparse (and expensive) format than ongoing stories proper.

    Feels like there is a lot of weight and very uncertain payoff. For instance, has the attraction between Nightcrawler and Rachel been resolved somehow? Was there a point for having Jean’s team in Atlantis and having Namor as a member?

    Honestly, I have little to go on to even attempt to guess.

  22. Andy Walsh says:

    @Luis – I share your sentiment about the ending of the X-Factor Investigations era. It was acknowledged in the recent Multiple Man mini-series, with the end result that a dupe with no memories of their relationship goes off to find Layla and … fill in as her dead husband? We never really find out because Madrox then turns up in Uncanny with no indication that any of the events of that mini-series occurred other than the fact he is alive again after dying in Death of X. And then, as noted above, he dies *again* in Uncanny.

    Between the mini-series and his role in Uncanny 1-22, there were some interesting applications of his powers and some moments that were fun in isolation. But reconciling the Jamie in just those two stories is tricky, not to mention X-Factor Investigations Jamie.

  23. Luis Dantas says:

    Thanks, @Andy Walsh

    As you seem to have guessed, I am sorry to see such well developed characters reduced to what appears to be glorified cannonfodder roles.

  24. SanityOrMadness says:


    I think, if nothing else, Hickman has a plan and backing to stick around for a few years (shy of sales tanking, oc). It’s basically what he does.


    It was acknowleged in Uncanny that this Madrox wasn’t Layla’s husband, even if he was helping her with the baby.

  25. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    I’m less concerned about reverting all those deaths a month after the run is over than by the fact that Marvel boasts about this being a grand new chapter in the X-Men saga and all the characters are still the same bunch of Claremont mainstays and several mid-90s additions, with the newest (Quire, X-23, Vulcan) still originating 15 to 20 years ago (13 to 16 if you want to be exact).

    And honestly, those two things are connected – they just killed off over a dozen characters, they could’ve kept them dead and filled out those teams with fresher or even (dare I say it?) brand new characters.

    Apart from that – this looks promising, though it seems they are finally carting the mutants off to their own sub-dimension / planet / universe, which seems like a bad call to me (I’d say the ‘mutant metaphor’ will be a bit hard to pull off if they’re going to be removed from the ‘real-ish’ world – and the solicitations make it sound like it will be a mutant-only world? I think?).
    But anyway. Even if the status quo is dumb, the books might be good (that’s my outlook on quite a few of the post-M-Day books).

    In the end only one thing seems to me to be incredibly dumb, that being the Marauders book. Not the creative team nor the concept, just the title. In what world would the good guys want to take the name of the perpetrators of the mutant massacre?

  26. Andy Walsh says:

    @Luis – Cannonfodder might be strong, so maybe I was overly reductive in my summary (see SanityOrMadness’ comment). Still, a lot of characters died in a story that wasn’t fundamentally about them, which I think is what makes it feel unsatisfying.

    @SanityOrMadness – Fair point, I obviously overlooked a reference to the Multiple Man mini and to the unusual status quo of the Jamie/Layla relationship in Uncanny. I think part of my negative view of the whole story thread is that it obviously would have a profound impact on Layla, who had previously been a main character in her own right. Yet we never really got her perspective.

  27. Thom H. says:

    Rosenberg’s Uncanny in general left me unsatisfied. I typically like a balls-to-the-wall, everybody-dies story, but this one didn’t deliver.

    Honestly, if you can do whatever you want with the X-characters before the highly announced new direction — and if most of the characters you kill are going to be brought immediately back to life — then why not kill everyone?

    I would have much preferred a surprise What If…? scenario or something along the lines of Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? How fun would that have been?

    As it stands, Rosenberg’s run didn’t have any lasting impact *and* didn’t go far enough with the premise. Disappointing.

  28. CJ says:

    Luis: “Maybe it is just me, but it feels like there is simply not enough time to ever consolidate any status quo.”

    It’s not just you. I’ve been wondering this for the past 8 or 9 years.

    This is why I (mostly) enjoyed Age of X-Man and its spiritual ancestor AoA, because those stories were going to have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and you’re expected to know this. The reset button is posted on day 1.

    The meta-game of wondering “These characters changed. Will it matter next month?” is exhausting.

    I’d rather the answer be “No, because it’s designed that way [like Mr. & Mrs. X]” vs “No, it’s a bold new ongoing where nothing will be the same! For the next year or so!”

  29. Ben says:

    To me if you’re going to do an end of an era run before a relaunch, you should probably celebrate that era and clean up any long standing plot threads.

    Do something with some joy to it, create some closure and wave goodbye.

    A nice retrospective.

    Not take a dump in the pool.

  30. Si says:

    If I ever have the misfortune to be writing the X-books I think I’ll thin the herd right down by having dozens of characters go out and get real jobs, move to a new town, start hanging out with other people, and just generally getting on with their lives and drifting apart like real people do. In the end it will just be Cyclops and Wolverine in a big empty school, complaining about all the sellouts.

    It will be much sadder than any character death.

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:


    I don’t want to be scathing, but how do you celebrate the era that’s ending? Before this Uncanny run we had a two-year exercise in nostalgia in X-Men Gold, and before that was the Terrigen hullabaloo – though to be fair, I think it was also the last time when the x-books had a cohesive theme and plot. Unfortunately the plot was ‘the Inhuman fart is killing us’.

    And before the Inhuman madness we had Bendis, so lots of talking and little of doing anything. (And also every book was about a splinter group and the actual main group of X-Men was just… sort of there, off to the side).

    And obviously before that we were still dealing with M-Day fallout, since that gem took 7 years to undo.

    In a way, 12 issues of ‘we’re dying all over the place’ is a fantastic encapsulation of the era.

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