Generation Hope #8: For the first 9/10 of this book, Gillen gives us a fairly typical "Generation Hope" story, with the Lights supporting Hope in her efforts to get Teon to stay with them. However, he throws what could be the curve ball of the year in the last 1/10, when Kenji and Laurie realize that Hope may well be sub-consciously (or consciously) forcing them to follow her. Gillen has toed this line extremely well for the entire series, not losing sight of the fact that the other side of Hope's potential future is that she would kill millions of humans and give rise to the bleak future of Bishop. (He also had previously given us a physical reminder of Hope's darker side when we see a flash of anger in her eyes as she fights with Cyclops and Evangeline about legal strategy.) Gillen is creating a complicated character here and anyone who's dismissing this book as being a junior version of the X-Men is missing some really fascinating stuff.
Uncanny X-Men #538: Wow. This issue felt like three because around every page another plot twist brought the story somewhere I didn't expect it to go yet made perfect sense. (OK, maybe not "perfect" sense when you reflect on it, but at least enough sense while reading it that the story flowed really well.) Gillen has really crafted an intricate story that unfolds beautifully. He clearly knew where it was going to end, so the issue didn't have the "plotting by the seat of his pants" feel that a lot of Fraction's stories seemed to have to me. Moreover, it didn't just feel like a cheap way to render Kitty tangible, since Haleena's decision to sacrifice herself for Kitty is based on her need to save Kruun and the Breakworlders. I had figured Kitty would somehow get back her powers thanks to Kruun's mutant "cure," but Gillen's way was a lot better. (I will say that I'm not entirely sure why Haleena decided that only Kitty could stop Kruun and that it was worth sacrificing her life to make her tangible so she could do it. I mean, presumably she could've just, I don't know, gotten Psylocke or something. But, whatever, I've decided I buy it.) I'm glad Gillen has wrapped up the Kitty storyline because I think it's high time we get to see Colossus and her just enjoy being together (as Kitty suggests on the last page). Gillen has portrayed their relationship better than anyone I've ever read and I'm really excited to see where he takes them. This arc rocked and I continue to be thrilled with Gillen's stewardship of one of Marvel's flagship titles.
X-Factor #221: Seriously, I heart this story. I heart everything about this story. Shatterstar and Wolfsbane fighting off demons set on stealing Rahne's baby? Awesome. Rahne letting Shatterstar sneak a peak at her naked? Awesome. Feral NOT cheesily being returned from the dead but instead being a creepy ghost who keeps appearing creepily and creepily helping the demons find Rahne? Awesome. Madrox reading "Sybil?" Awesome. Getting resolution on Pip's mysterious benefactor (huh, I hadn't seen a "Great Expectations" connection there before writing that)? Awesome. "X-Factor" continues to be one of my favorite books right now and, if you're not reading it, you should be.
X-Men #13: This story continues to be split between past and present. In the present, we get some background on the Evolutionaries in the form of one of the Evolutionaries expositing their story to someone (though, to whom, I'm not entirely sure). We learn they were created by an Eternal to help species set to become dominant evolve (though I thought in an earlier issue we established that the Eternals had washed their hands of this job, since they were tasked by the Celestials with containing the Deviant threat and nothing more). Meanwhile, the X-Men continue trying to defend Cyclops from the Evolutionaries, who view him as responsible, as leader of the mutants, for the reduced number of mutants in the world and want to eliminate him. In the past, Magneto has accepted the Evolutionaries charge to eliminate homo sapien. I can't say either plot -- the X-Men defending Cyclops or Magneto accepting the Evolutionaries' task -- is particularly interesting, since neither really advances all that much from where it was at the end of last issue. However, it's not what Yost does here that's interesting, but what he seems poised to do, which is seriously flesh out the history of several major characters. First, I'm intrigued by the Scarlet Witch sending the past X-Men to find Emma Frost, since it implies that the Evolutionaries' appearance was the cause of (or at least contributed to) Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch breaking with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Second, we seem poised to delve into Emma Frost's back story, something that I don't think we've ever really been given all that extensively. In the present, we seem on the verge of Magneto remembering his dealings with the Evolutionaries, with Emma warning Iceman that he may indeed get a chance to fight Magneto as a result. Despite some of questions I have about the Evolutionaries and their origin, Yost has done a great job of building up the suspense in this issue, even if we don't really end with a change to the status quo. I can honestly say I can't wait to see what happens next issue. (I have no idea who the crew that appeared at the end of the issue were, so I'm hoping to get some clarity on that, too. Also, the Storm/Magneto splash page was FANTASTIC.)
X-Men: Prelude to Schism #3: Jenkins continues the pattern of previous issues of framing this issue around Cyclops seeking advice from an advisor, this time, from his dead mother. It's an interesting conceit, and it gives us insight into Cyclops' emotions that I can't say I've ever really seen. Moreover, it pointed out something that had never dawned on me, that Cyclops -- despite being leader of the X-Men -- can't actually control his power. Even more interestingly, Jenkins also calls into question whether Cyclops can't do so because of the concussion he suffered when he parachuted from the plane with Alex when they were children or simply because he hasn't focused enough on controlling it, raising the hint of the possibility that Cyclops could go the way of Rogue and actually learn how to control his power without his visor. Other than this possibility, the issue doesn't really cover that much ground, leaving us to wonder what threat exactly the X-Men are facing.