I originally wasn't going to get this series, hence the reason I'm reviewing it so late. I did however decide to get it as it had decent reviews, but the main reason was the upcoming Battle of the Atom crossover which features this.
This was a phenomenal issue, and although I've been enjoying the series so far, I can finally say that it's finally met my expectations. With the first four issues being all over the place, with poor pacing, and not enough excitement it was nice to have an issue that was, as this issue stuck to one main plot development, whilst also being brilliantly paced, and exciting. Brian Michael Bendis has really out done himself here, creating something truly wonderful. Bendis also continued to give us some outstanding dialogue, and although a lot of other things topped that this time round, in general his dialogue has been the best thing about this series, and it continues to be very fun at times, whilst also being dramatic, and serious at others. Bendis also did an amazing job of livening up this series, as although it's been very interesting, it's sometimes felt a bit dull, and not as exciting as it could be. I also loved how in this issue Bendis featured on an X-Man that isn't always in the spotlight, Magik, which was nice, as I don't want a series that constantly focuses on just Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magneto, as although they're bigger names than Magik, she's still a huge member of the team, and Bendis showed that here.
The art was also phenomenal, as although I started to like Chris Bachalo's art (which is saying something considering I don't like his art in general), it is nothing compared to Frazer Irving's artwork, which is simply outstanding. Besides the fact I prefer Irving's art, I feel that this really suits his style more, as Bachalo is more suited for fun, and normal action, and Irving is more suited for the weird, and magical, like what this issue was. The way he drew all the X-Men was brilliant, and although there were very minor imperfections, it in no way took away from his marvellous art. Irving's layouts were also perfect, giving more depth to the story, whilst also adding more mood, and drama, which really help the overall quality of the story. The best thing about Irving art however had to be the way he drew Limbo, and Dormammu. It was simply out of this world, and although it's probably not as hard to draw as you'd initially think, Irving still manages to make it look stunning. Another thing that helps with Irving's art is the fact that he does his own inking, and colouring, as this gives him full control over the final art, making sure the tone, and mood suits him. It certainly does that, as although you can mostly tell his art due to his style of colouring, it also really helped this story, and set the perfect mood.
This issue started with Maria Hill viewing the video of Cyclops saying how he's here to hep mutants, and human supporters, and how his X-Men took down the Avengers without lifting a finger. It was nice to see Hill appear in this series again, as after her appearance in issue 1 she's not made another, and although both S.H.I.E.L.D., and Cyclops' X-Men have been busy, it was nice to see that it wasn't the end of their conflict. I also loved the reaction Hill had towards what Cyclops was saying, and even more so when she learned what really happened, and I look forward to seeing how this is developed in the future.
Last issue finished with Magik acting strange, and apparently not being able to control her powers. This issue would follow this, showing Cyclops reach out to the troubled X-Man, trying to find out if she's okay, and whether her predicament will hurt the team. This was a brilliant sequence, full of emotion, and you could really see both character's characteristics show through, as you had Cyclops who was concerned, whilst wary, and Magik who was confused, and worried, whilst trying to look strong. I also liked how you could tell that they were friends, and although Magik never really shows any feelings towards anyone, this time you could see that she felt safe around Cyclops, showing that he's a friend.
Magik would then go onto say what happened to her, and how she was dragged to Limbo against her own free will by the demonic, Dormammu. Now I'm not the most knowledgeable person on Dormammu, only knowing the basics, as well as the fact that he has a history with Doctor Strange, but I was happy to see him again. Dormammu always brings mystics, and excitement to a story, as with him being described as, "something worse than a demon," something which he usually lives up to, he's always a force to be reckoned with. Now Dormammu didn't do a great deal in this issue, but his presence along, plus his conversation with Magik was enough, and I look forward to seeing what he has in store for the X-Men as this story continues.
Another thing that I loved about this issue was the location that a good part of it was set in, Limbo. Now I've already talked about how amazing the art was in Limbo, but I'll go onto say my feelings on it being in this story, and whether it was handled right. First of the thing that I've always liked about Magik has been her connection to Limbo, as although we don't always get to see it, when we do it's usually amazing, and this time was no different. Both Bendis, and Irving used this setting perfectly, and with both Magik, and Dormammu being the main character's involved it was more than perfect, and easily makes the series more exciting, as well as giving it more tone, and depth.
This was an outstanding issue, and easily the best of the series so far. Everything that was wrong in this series has been fixed, whilst also keeping all the amazing qualities the series already had. It's pacing is much more consistent, and it has a lot more excitement, as well as ton's of suspense, and mystery. It also had phenomenal art from Frazer Irving, which more than suited the style of story, and I for one want to read more. Due to all this it's easy to recommend this issue, and I'd do that all day long, as it's truly something amazing.