Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
ALL NEW X-MEN is the culmination of self-fulfilled prophecy. For years the X-Men have danced with the time-stream, jaunting across the temporal highways of the universe bumping into a multiple variations of self. Of course to avoid painting themselves into the corner of a 30, 100, 500, 1,000 year project plan for pre-destined continuity, all of these trips were dismissed as mere possibilities of tomorrow instead of actualities.
With ALL NEW X-MEN we get the reverse, the X-MEN of yore are meeting the TRUE future versions of self and I’m of two minds about this trip.
On one hand I simply lurv this book. With issue 2 the original X’s finally arrive in today to meet their tomorrow and see how their once barren school of 5 is now a full-fledged academy brimming with students and super cool alien architecture.
Even though the X-Mansion has always been a step above the consumer electronics found at Best Buy, not one of the original fab five could imagine the modern marvels found throughout the new Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, at one point Bobby Drake is even astounded by flat panel technology – though he does lament he expected the sets to be a tad touch cooler.
While the “gee-whiz this is the future” moments set the stage for cute quips, the most startling elements of this future sojourn are the original five learning their ultimate fates — both physically and emotionally. Secondary mutations were once a marketing ploy (during the Morrison run if memory serves), but it is now standard course for a majority of mutations. We got Hank McCoy’s take on his tomorrow self in issue one as he was confronted with the first mutation of turning blue and furry and the secondary mutation of looking like an understudy for Beauty and the Beast. Next was Bobby Drake’s discovery that he’s no longer a walking snowball, but rather a jagged crystalline. Angel has yet to meet his newly lobotomized self and I doubt there are any plans to exhume the very necrotic Jean Grey. Speaking of which, how would you react if you found out you died at 30? Even at 16, I doubt I would have been as laissez-faire about the news as young Jean was.
Mentally, well…the future fab five X-MEN are all fucked from time with UNCANNY X-FORCE or being touched inappropriately by a galactic angel called the Phoenix Force. Pretty much only Bobby Drake has remained unscathed in recent years, with of course the exception of watching his dearest friends go off the rails.
Bendis is setting a clear tempo with this series as the present factions of X-MEN at the Jean Grey school and Scott Summer’s camp seek to gobble up new mutants like starved hungry hungry hippos. Kitty Pride’s camp from the academy are taking a definitive passive approach to recruiting the next generation, while Scott, Magneto and Illyana are attacking anyone who might keep them at bay. Issue one was an even split between time with the two teams. Issue 2 was all about the original five uncovering their future fate at the academy. In both issues Scott’s team delivered the action while Kitty’s team served as narrators, passively debating how to handle Scott and Hank’s decision to fire up the Flux Capacitor. In the name of fair and balanced reporting, issue 3 brings us back to Scott’s group with teeth gritting action from page one. An old colleague is freed from government custody, a new mutant arises with the uncanny ability to shape-shift faster than Odo on Star Trek, and Scott does some deep soul searching on the nature of power after he finds the Phoenix Force has left a lasting and deflating impression on all she touched. Oh, and the last page brings the title to a Scotto-a-Scotto tense cliffhanger.
Now, I did say I was of two minds on the book. It wasn’t the art; Immonen is still the master of blending silver and modern age styling. Plus his facial expressions continue to make the dialoging as engaging as the action. No, what bothers me is one of those fangeezer nits that make people hate comic collectors. There is a level of temporal clustfuckery in this book that keeps pulling me out of the action with some nagging questions.
Things like: Are the original X-MEN from the 60’s or the late 80’s, early 90’s? Don’t get me wrong I’m willing to understand comic time is not real time. I’m perfectly OK with five real years being one comic year. However, if my math is right(ish), Scott and his crew are in their early thirties, which means their time with Xavier was when Grunge was coming in vogue not the Beatles. So why for the sweet love of Christ were the original five dressed like Dobie Gillis before suiting up instead of in flannel and Birkenstocks? Jean Grey’s hair looks like my Mom’s High School year book hair-helmet instead of my old girlfriend’s gravity defying bangs. When the hell did the X-Men really start? And what the fuck year is it now in the X-Men universe?
Again, this is a fangeezer thing and should stop no one from basking in the humor, shock and intrigue that unfolds on every page of ALL NEW X-MEN.
Listen to me and the Phonographics cats talk about the recent death of Charles Xavier in AVENGERS VS. X-MEN, and the rise of Scott Summers as the new Dark Phoenix.
We also wax poetic for a little bit on the DC 0 issues…