Professor Xavier died at the end of Avengers VS X-Men. Now, almost two years later, “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” is the focal point of a new story line in Uncanny X-Men.
In a flashback that takes place “a year ago”, we see a man named Matthew arguing with his wife or girlfriend when she is suddenly vaporized. All hell breaks loose as
Matthews home is destroyed, his neighborhood is set ablaze, and he witness a Skrull getting its head blown off just before it can kill him. We fast forward to “today” where Jen Walters, aka She-Hulk, receives a document via courier that leaves her stunned, in wide-eyed silence. Most of the rest of the issue deals with Cyclops’s team of X-Men dealing with recent events. Dazzler is angry about being held prisoner and replaced by the shapeshifter Mystique, who used her form to manipulate S.H.I.E.L.D. into fighting the X-Men. Cyclops himself has a flashback to the day he killed Xavier with the power of the Phoenix. He also confronts recent addition to the team Eva (Tempus) who has been inexplicably aging, and hiding a secret that Cyclops now knows (but doesn’t share with the reader). Cut to the Jean Grey School where, in typical Hulk fashion, Jen Walters leaps into their front yard. She explains that she is there for the reading of Charles Xavier’s will. Back at the Xavier School, Cyclops has a heart-to-heart with Hijack, who he had previously kicked off the team, but welcomes back with open arms after the younger mutant saved everyone’s lives. The two come to and understanding and appreciate each other a little more. Meanwhile, Dazzler has a breakdown in the bathroom which will inevitably lead to her more punky/gothy look that will make it’s debut in the next issue. A brief check in with Matthew during the present shows him being pressured by his sister-in-law who he accidentally blows up when he can’t take it anymore. After two short scenes, I can only assume he’s a new mutant that will be meeting with one team or other of X-Men in the near future. Finally, back at the Jean Grey School, She-Hulk tells the X-Men that they need Cyclops to be present for the reading of the will. This news is not taken well by the mutants present.
As is typical of a Bendis book, there’s a lot of talking in this issue, though to be fair there are some quieter parts. For example, the scene of Dazzler in the bathroom is almost entirely without words. There’s a little action with the unknown quantity Matthew, but the bulk of the issue centers around character moments, which has always been something Bendis excels at. His characters change and grow, and relate to each other in realistic ways that make them seem human and real. Another hallmark of Bendis’s writing is decompressed storytelling. In a story that is supposed to be about what Professor X left in his will and how it will impact the entirety of Marvel’s mutants, they don’t even get to the reading in this issue.
Fill-in artist Kris Anka does a more than adequate job of bringing this story to life. His style is looser and not quite as detailed as that of regular Uncanny X-Men artist Stuart Immonen, but he draws expressive faces and body language well, really capturing how the characters feel as they work through emotional moments.
There is a lot of hype surrounding “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” with promises that it will change not affect Uncanny X-Men, but all of the X-titles forever. Marvel tends to say this sort of thing about a lot of stories, and they’re usually right, though the magnitude of the changes may not be as great as they want us to believe. It will be interesting to see how much, and for how long, this story will change the lives of Marvel’s mutants.