Between Battle of the Atom and the Trial of Jean Grey, the All-New X-Men have scarcely had a moment for self-reflection or a storyline that involves them principally. Brian Bendis aims to change that, catapulting us into a Jean Grey nightmare before having Modern Scott Summers sit down for a chat that only SLIGHTLY veers into uncomfortable territory. It’s an odd moment, but not an out-of-character one as we’re dealing with someone who’s still young and been through a tremendous amount. We also get to see Prof. Pryde get in touch further with her inner-badass, laying down the law with cool efficiency. We also track X-23 leaving the compound, enraged that Young Scott left to have space adventures with his dad. And while Angel can’t bring her back, her journey is suddenly brought to a halt by a different interloper. Bendis does a fantastic job of differentiating the voices of the different cast members, particularly the young X-Men who could, in another writer’s hands, blend together and become interchangeable, but as he shows us: that’s not gonna happen. Angel and X’s interaction is great and feels organic and fresh, and the Jean Gray/Scott Summers interaction is one of the more fascinating the book has given us, not to mention one of the most built-up.
Stuart Immonen’s pencils continue to remind us of what makes this series one of the best on the shelf. His characters are proportioned realistically, but there’s an incredible style to them making them very fluid and sharp. There’s a gravitas to the art in this series that does a great job of not just making everything have impact, but have import. The inks by Wade Von Grawbadgerare a massive part of that style as well, sharpening and clarifying the characters and backgrounds. Marte Gracia’s colors complete the look, especially the gorgeous two-page spread that the book opens with. They’re absolutely incredible to behold, from the beautiful outdoors, to the moody shadows indoors.
This is definitely an establishing/filler issue where everyone just needs to take a breather after everything that happened. That’s fine, but it does result in a low-impact issue that doesn’t do much with the characters besides some handy exposition.
The last page of this issue means so much for how the rest of it will proceed, and not just in terms of who’s on the page, but in terms of who isn’t. I can see this jumping off in a very, very major way. It’s an establishing issue, but what it establishes could be one of the most exciting X-Men events in a single title in awhile.