I mentioned in my last comic’s review that I recently opened my first-ever folder at a local shop. Included in which were three titles. One I knew I’d love and two I was unsure of. Well, I was pleased that Thor, God of Thunder was a complete surprise (both in writing and in art). It was well done, something that is depressingly rare in main stream comics. And then, of course, there was All New X-Men. I wish there was an intelligent and sophisticated way to type out a heavy, dread filled sigh. Oh well.
Issue one opens with The Beast, in the thralls of another mutation that threatens to kill him. It’s unexpected, begun with little foreshadowing, sprung on a reader like a reverse “ex machina.” I won’t say it’s an ineffective way to kick off a long form story, but it’s what comes after that makes it less than appealing.
Bendis is a long time Marvel author. He was a commanding force in the infamous Avengers V. X-men series, and someone who’s done a lot to shape the “Marvel Now!” initiative. That’s not a bad thing. I think the Marvel universe is doing something that’s brave enough, especially in answer to DC’s “New 52.” They’re giving all their titles a jumping on point, and that’s not easy. I can give a lot of grace to that idea, because there’s so much cannon to consider. The way Marvel is handeling this challenge is fairly progressive, because they aren’t ret-conning everything. The stories they’ve built since the early 50s still stand, and I think that’s important.
That said, All New X-men, a story that connects modern comics to story lines started in the 1960s, starts with a substandard flash.
The aren’t isn’t bad, but it’s wholly uninspired. Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger are professionals, obviously, but they also seem uninspired. It’s a hard thing to put a finger on, but their drawing feels more like a project than it does a passion. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, it’s high grade. But where’s the love? Somewhere, at least at first viewing, it’s gone missing.
Picking up where AvX left off, All New X-Men centers around the the division in the X-Universe caused by Cyclops’ evolving into a dickhead. He’s on the run, hunting down the new mutants created by the freed Phoenix Force. The media is pegging him as a militant, especially in light of recent events. The other less radical mutants are troubled by their former leader’s tirade.
The Beast, who began this issue by having a mutated heart attack, decides to do the sensible thing. No, talking to his life long friend won’t do the trick. Instead, Beast decides there is only one option: time travel. He approaches the original X-Men (which includes himself) and asks that they’d return to the future with him. His hope? That they’d calm Cyclops down and prevent a mutant genocide. I’m sorry, but I think mainstream comics deserve better, especially those that are over 50 years old.
Forego the inherit evils that come with misusing time travel, and instead look at the complete shortsidedness of a genius scientist thinking the answer to all his problems is to cheat the fabric of reality. This is a weak plot point, because it does very little to the story or to the characters while being itself a grand gesture. The Beast just shows up in the past. It’s almost wasteful.
The story ends there, for now. All New X-Men will likely explore the disappointment in the young X-Men with the way their older counterparts turned out. It’s an interesting concept, enough so that it could serve as an impressive comment on modern comics. Sadly, the first issue gives no indication of this. Everything seems easy, and as such: cheap. I don’t welcome that foundation, especially because I am a diehard and lifelong X-Men fan.
However: I’m staying with it. This book is staying in my folder. I owe Chris Claremont that much.