Don’t be fooled by the awesome cover, we’re still dealing with The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier in Uncanny X-Men #31. But the misleading cover and solicit could be taken as a possible indication of some rushed scripting changes as we come to a somewhat abrupt but not entirely unsatisfying ending to a storyline that began as an Original Sin tie-in (let that sink in). As his Uncanny X-Men run comes to an end, Brian Michael Bendis gets to express his thoughts on Cyclops and the current state of the X-Men through the character of Eva Bell as she takes an extremely hostile out of control mutant situation into her own hands in a fast-paced issue with solid art once again provided by Chris Bachalo.
This arc has always truly been about Cyclops and how various other X-Men feel about his recent transformation so it’s no surprise that Matthew Malloy, the other character at the center of the story is reduced to nothing more than a plot device. As he is literally wiped out of existence, readers will note how little they’ve come to care for him. Luckily, Bendis spends little time with him this issue and doesn’t bother to give his demise any emotional weight but it’s hard to forgive and forget the countless pages we’ve spent with him in previous issues as he dealt with his vague, godlike abilities.
Instead, the story switches gears and Eva becomes the hero and as the only one who will remember the events, the sole survivor of the story’s effects. As she and a young Professor Xavier uses her time travel abilities to deal with the situation in a classic “Professor Xavier is a jerk!” way, one has to wonder if this was Bendis’ intent all along. Not only does Eva’s final monologue not quite gel with previous issues(she wrongly blames Scott for everything Matthew did) but her role in this arc was too passive up until now. Reading the arc as a whole, it feels like a last minute save but reading the issue, it doesn’t feel cheap because Eva does get a chance to express herself and as she talks down to Cyclops, literally dismantling his revolution with her words, you find her viewpoint validated even if the previous issues didn’t lead us here. Eva’s decision may have brought the story to a halt but it’s brought her character and Cyclops’ character trajectory to a peak. Bendis has admitted to changing the ending and while I’m not sure how last minute it might have been, he managed to salvage the final issue but unfortunately not the story as a whole.
While Chris Bachalo provides the pencils for the entire issue, a slew of inkers and an additional colorist make for some obvious artistic changes throughout the issue. It’s very clear when Bachalo doesn’t do his own colors and the result is pages that look as if they’ve been left out in the sun for too long. Luckily, Bachalo handles the more pivotal scenes and draws both Cyclops and Eva as expressive, imposing, and most importantly, equal to each other as they square off. It’s a significant moment not only for Eva but for Bendis’ run as a whole and Bachalo gives it the attention it deserves. One gripe is that Eva’s skirt has gotten significantly shorter since her debut. I’m not sure if it’s intentional since the character is supposed to have aged a few years but her costume is beginning to look silly and a coloring error on the opening page makes her appearance downright obscene.
Bendis definitely knew what he wanted to express with this particular story but after nine issues, it’s clear he didn’t set out a correct course beforehand. That being said, Uncanny X-Men #31 is successful in developing the character of Eva Bell and as she becomes Bendis’ most compelling contribution to X-Men lore, you’ll find yourself wishing the story spent more time with her all along.
The Verdict: 7.0/10