Time travel is the worst plot device in all of comics. It’s over used, under explained, and generally rushed. That was my problem with issue 1 of All New X-men, the current leader in Marvel comics sales. It was a jumping on point, laying the foundation for the rest of the series, but for a book that focused so much on time travel, the timing was completely off.
However, once you get past that, once you move beyond the time travel, the book actually gets pretty good. I know, I know, I was surprised too. It seems like Bendis just had to bite the bullet and rush through the set up of what is, essentially, a really interesting idea. The original X-Men team from the 1960’s comes to present day to confront they’re current counterparts who are either dead, reborn, evil, or fury.
The best moment came when Jean Grey asked why “Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters” had been changed to “The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.” Now, I don’t know if it was a mistake (which I half assume it was), but the pannel in which Beast tells Jean that she’s dead (kind of like an ass) has absolutely no text.
It’s a pretty bold move, intentional or not, and I think it does a lot for the “less is more” aesthetic that makes issue 2 so much stronger than issue 1. Bendis seems to have shown more than he has told, and in my opinion that’s a much more sophisticated form of storytelling.
My favorite part about the “classic X-Men meet current X-Men” is the relationship between the original team and Wolverine. They have no idea who he is, but he knows almost everything about them. There’s a lot of weight in that, because Avengers Vs. X-Men ended with Wolverine hating Cyclops and missing Jean. Now they’re back, but they’re different. It’s kind of delicious.
Wolverine doesn’t know what time traveling shenanigans have occurred, so when he smells the scent of Cyclops, a guy he super-duper hates, he goes quasi-ferrel. Just before splitting a young Scott Summers in twain, Jean Grey steps in and deflects Wolverine’s attack. The art here is masterful. Wolverine’s face is captured in that perfect transition from rage to confusion.
The scene ends with the Classic X-Men steal a jet and flying off on their own. Wolverine’s reaction is subtle and quiet. “It really was Jeannie.” Oh, and I may have forgotten to point this out earlier, but it was Wolverine who named the school after Jean.
All in all, I’m glad I stuck with this title, because it looks like it’s going to confront some really interesting situations. Bendis has been praised for his work in the past and, to be honest, I was confused after reading All New X-Men issue 1. However, it seems like all Bendis needed was to get over the “time paradox hump.” From here on out, All new X-Men looks like a very promising book.