Catching up: All New X-Men

As I catch up to the current issues of the various X-books that I haven’t been doing my eXaminations on, I decided I’d do a post about my thoughts on how each book is going in the whole Marvel NOW! hooplah.

First up is All-New X-Men, since it’s all new and all.

Brian Michael Bendis has had his fill of Avengers and moved his seat over to the X-table, now writing both of what one might consider the “flagship” books (though to be fair, there are two other books that are just X-Men team books as well and one about the school itself).  The first one out of the gate to wave the NOW! flag was All-New, and if you can’t tell from the image above, the whole premise is getting back to the X-Men roots through wacky time travel antics.

But that’s putting it mildly.  The reality of the book’s premise is a bit more convoluted in that Beast, believing himself to be dying from his latest round of genetic mutation (farewell, cat Beast), decides to nab the original five X-Men from the past and bring them to the present to make Cyclops realize how just awful he’s been of late.

Does that seem dumb to you?  That seems kind of dumb to me.

Anyway, the kids do the confrontation, predictably it doesn’t do anything of consequence and then the kids decide that since their Professor X is going to wipe the memories from their heads upon their return home anyway, they might as well stay in the present and fix things so they can go with the knowledge that they’ll eventually have a world worth living in, which admittedly the Marvel U has never been for mutants.

Now that’s an okay setup on a basic level, I guess, but it really doesn’t seem to be working in execution.  For one, the pickup point for the kids happens in the middle of the original X-Men #8 in which Beast and Iceman return home up in arms about being mobbed simply for being mutants.  That’s all well and good in the sense that it gives the X-Men a place where Xavier won’t notice them gone (of course, being that it’s time travel that is a moot point), but it puts the kids way to early in the heroing career to be in the all-in idealists for Xavier’s dream that the story seems to be requiring.

You might think it’s perfectly acceptable for the kids to want to make a difference here being that they are already teenage super-heroes and thus not much for exactly grand self-preserving life choices, but the underlying problem is what happens if something happens to the kids in the present?  If teenage Beast dies in the present, what happens to all the crap Beast’s done in his fifty years of existence?  All of the responsible super-heroes are standing around going “this doesn’t seem like a good idea” and then just shrugging and walking away.  It’s a story where everyone is putting aside any kind of common sense to the matter just because the premise doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

But comics can do that, so what am I complaining about?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the kids don’t seem to really be acting much like their character bases, but that comes as much from the 60’s X-Men having been remarkably dull characters for a lot of their Silver Age antics.  Iceman and Beast handle easily enough – one needs to be goofy and the other needs to be pretentious – but the rebelling teenage Cyclops doesn’t really fly as well with me.  Silver Age Cyclops was much more straight laced then that, especially right at the beginning, where the storyline nabbed the kids from.  Angel doesn’t get any kind of real characterization at all, though he leaps over to Uncanny not long in, so I may be talking to soon.

My main problem with this book is that it just seems to be stalling for time.  We’re 14 issues in and not that much has actually really happened.  The kids are in the present and hanging out with Kitty Pryde, and that’s about it.  It’s like they’re just standing around until something comes around to need them.  And being that something dealing with their time traveling stuff is going to be in the Next Big Event, that may be exactly what this book’s going to do.

Fine if you’re really aching for a Jean Grey in your life, but underwhelming for me.

Next time: Astonishing X-Men

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2 comments

  1. I’ve actually been really loving All-New X-Men. The premise is silly, sure, I can’t really argue with that. But I’ve been thoroughly enjoying what Bendis is doing with the characters. He’s made Iceman funnier than he’s ever been (hitting Thor with a snowball was so good). Angel’s early freak-outs over what’s going on were really good, and I’m interested in seeing what he does in UXM. Beast has adapted really well. But the real heart of the book has been Scott and Jean, as they’ve reacted in really interesting ways. Scott’s reacted to the situation by acting out a bit. Jean has reacted by becoming something of a control freak. She’s actually been really good. I’ve never been a big fan of Jean, but Bendis has made her truly interesting and compelling. And, of course, Kitty! I do love me some Kitty.

    This is definitely a slow book, but I don’t mind that. The characterization’s been strong, and that’s the main thing I care about.

    So I’ve been finding this a great book.

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  2. 100% agreed on this one. I was excited for this book, as I feel that the X-Books have been on something of a roll the past few years, and AvX left things in an interesting place. But my god, the pacing on this book is approaching Age of Ultron levels. After twelve issues, the story is: They’re here. And also Mystique is maybe planning something?

    The characterizations have, as you said, also been somewhat off. Messing with the space time continuum doesn’t strike me as something Hank would ever do, and is such a transparent plot device. That, along with goofy things like young Scott not understanding what bottled water is, just reinforce the feeling that Bendis isn’t fully focused on the writing.

    Having said all that, All New X-Men is still a good bit better than Uncanny X-Men, which I’m now on my third attempt to read through after giving up twice. I really want to enjoy these books, but I hate that nagging feeling that I’m being ripped off every time I finish one.

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