Uncanny X-Men #21

There’s so much that’s immediately good about this issue. Cyclops isn’t in control of his powers and he’s attacking the Jean Grey School, Magik tries to mitigate and turns into a demonfaced monster raiser. Storm keeps collected.

And fans are treated to a full page spread of Storm showcasing her badass powers. Stellar.

Image

Then Dazzler (not really Dazzler, really Mystique) shows up to collect Cyclops. 

In Madripoor: the Blob fiends for mutant growth hormone (that they are harvesting from the real Dazzler). Magneto finds him and sees what has been done to Dazzler. Magneto almost scalpels the Blobs face off, but he relents, remembering long past events he lets the Blob run off and he tends to Dazzler.

The phony Dazzler is pushing the X-Men to hand over Scott Summers to SHIELD. It’s Maria Hill who tells Beast that he has an hour to straighten out what has gone wrong with Cyclops. The helicarrier is poised to attack as back up… but it suddenly starts firing. Beast takes Cyclops and Magik to his lab in hope to find what is seeking to destroy them. Quentin Quire (who I have some affection for because he reminds me of my gawky and grungy punkrock nerd boy high school friends) grabs Maria Hill by the head and asks her what’s up. 

And at the end of the issue: Beast has found who is behind the attacks, but it isn’t revealed to the reader. The villain is hidden in a spacesuit.

Chris Bachalo’s art is a little weird, there’s 4 inkers which I think adds to the weirdness. Hank McCoy looks more bizarre than usual. The facial expressions are on point, the action scenes are legit: easy to follow but very detailed. Cyclops shut the heck up this issue. That’s weird. The focus was mainly on the action (with one brief emo hiatus to see Emma Frost pensively fretting for Scott Summers).

Predictions for next issue: Who is in the spacesuit?

All-New X-Men #26

OOoooh Young Jean Grey showcasing her brand new psionic powers on the front cover.

Image

That doesn’t happen in the story. Jean Grey is having nightmares of levelling the X-Men with devastating ferocity. She wakes up screaming and is comforted by Scott. Not the young Scott: he’s in space now. But Cyclops: “Old Cyclops” or “Present Day Cyclops” or “the Cyclops that’s supposed to be here.” The two have been thoroughly ignoring each other. Because it’s weird. It’s really weird. The way he looks at her is almost paternal, but they still talk like old friends when he confesses that he’s jealous of all the time that Young Cyclops is spending with his space pirate dad. But Jeannie ramps up the icky with the line, “You’re so much older. I think that’s why I like you more than younger Scott. It’s like instead of hoping you’d grow up to become this man. You’re here. The man I hoped you’d be.” Cyclops puts the kibosh on that, he tells her they can NEVER. And then he tells her she’ll be training with Emma Frost to help stay in control of her new powers. Emma Frost is also his ex, she has a mountain of a grudge against Jean Grey… and yeah, this is going to get weird. “Well.. why should this be different than everything else?” 

Kitty stops by and eavesdrops, she notes that he handled it well but reminds him that being alone in her room is not appropriate. She earns a “Yes, ma’am.” While an apprehensive and lonely Jeannie still can’t sleep.

Angel, out for a morning fly sees Laura leaving school. He tries to stop her, she yells at a bear. No one knew she had feelings for Scott, but she doesn’t open up for just anyone. And Angel, physically incapable of knocking her out and dragging her back heads back for reinforcements. X-23 finds herself being followed… by young Scott. Who stabs her. Holy WTF it’s Mystique (who has been terrorizing Amazing X-Men, posing as Dazzler while draining her of her mutant growth hormone). 

Angel, back at the school riles up KP, who is all “No way, we can’t lose Laura,” while Bobby says “Who’s Laura?” and Angel says “Literally the only girl we know who’s not Jean Grey.” 

They find Laura, worse for the wear and she stammers out that it was a shapeshifter, not only that, the shapeshifter has been interloping for sometime now. And she knows Laura’s personal shit. That’s not going to go over well. But while they are distracted, Molly, Deadpool, Xorna, future Beast are marching in. The Future Brotherhood is back!?

Bendis and his dialogue always floors me, it’s perfect. His writing really helps you get in the mindset of the characters. Little things, like Cyclops saying he worries about Hank not being able to undo his mistake (and now with the Brotherhood back, I wonder if he’s to blame), Iceman being so young/clueless/self absorbed that he’s been calling Laura “Wolverine Clone.” Kitty is being written as a full grown woman with good decision making skills again, which is nice. That lapsed for a bit. Stuart Immonen is just wonderful, pensive facial expressions abound. The first page where Jean Grey envisions herself as the Phoenix is majestic.Backgrounds disappear as KP flies into a rage.

Hey: I just realized that Mystique stole X-23’s backpack! What’s up with that. 

All-New X-Men #25

“Monumental 25th issue featuring the greatest artist roster ever assembled.”

At the Jean Grey School we see present day Beast lying awake, riddled with anxiety, his head heavy while he thinks of what a mess he has made bringing back the original X-Men. There’s a man standing over him. He tells Beast that the consequences of his actions are infinite. And through interpretations of different artists we see these possibilities that have been destroyed. The first being Bruce Timm drawing Jean Grey. Jean Grey, who has been heaped with tragedy and catastrophe has recently gotten a bad ass powerset in Guardians of the Galaxy #13, and we see that, but on the next page we have another version of Jean Grey the Jean that this Jean will become, the one in the Brotherhood who bends men to her will. Arthur Adams/Justin Ponsor’s hard a desolate interpretation with crumbling cities and a throne of bent and twisted men directly contrasts with Bruce Timm/Laura Martin’s peppy and fresh bright and uncluttered view of young Jean. While not necessarily my favorite art of the issue the juxtaposition was in my opinion the most well done.  

David Mack’s Cyclops page was also masterful. On this page we see Cyclops displayed like Jesus on the cross (but it’s an X) in front of protesting masses while words describe how he is abandoned and mocked. It’s all water colors and is amazing.

Scottie Young/Jason Keith’s Iceman turns into ice-monsters rampaging out of control. There was a touch of this in BotA where Iceman confronts his future self as a soul less snow monster (who turns out to be future Jean Grey’s puppet) and then as a snow wizard. While the narration says that Iceman will be destroyed from within, this seems to be a fully outside interpretation. Iceman doesn’t seem that perturbed in the series currently.

Image

It kind of goes on from there showing how monstrous they’re all becoming. That Beast will lose more of his humanity (something about dinosaurs, admittedly, I didn’t get it. I don’t know who was on Kent Williams’s page. The Colossus page was unremarkable). Beast sits up in bed with his head in his hands and pleads to be shown “the good.”  

Image

JG Jones gives us an image of the whole X-Men line up being treated as celebrities. Beast looks like Ghandi, while light reflects off of them instead of shadows, it’s really unique. The X-Men are photographed by fans with signs that say THANX Everyone is happy and playful. Magneto even looks pleased. 

Ronnie Del Carmen’s image looks like a cross between a vintage Charlie’s Angel’s themed pinup catalogue and a children’s picture book about summer vacation. Which makes sense, since he’s been a storyboard artist on Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up. He draws some X-Ladies having summer fun and beheading monsters on motorcycles. I really don’t get it, but it looks GREAT.

Image

J Scott Campbell/Nei Ruffino have Psylocke, Storm and Nightcrawler in more modern and conventionally stylized fashion in outer space for exploration.

Maris Wicks gets a few pages to tell a story of an ill timed love story featuring Kitty Pryde and Colossus. Hyper cartoony tale of bad timing. Highlights include KP wearing a shirt that says “I’m not Daredevil” and having Nightcrawler’s baby.Jason Shiga keeps up with the cartoony and tells a tale of Scott + Logan BFFs FORVER! With a senile Cyclops and still aggro Logan eating spaghettios. And the less serious fashion continues in Dan Hipp’s pages where Jean and Logan fight like the old married couple that they are. Jean’s a couch potato who barely looks away from her laptop when he comes in bleeding. The squabble over him forgetting to pick up hot pockets. I didn’t love it, but the “I can still read your mind” jokes were funny. 

There’s more about who will bloom and find purpose and then Beast is confronted with the reality that these roads will never be taken because of his actions. Beast pleads, “Then help me. Help me put it back. Help me.”

“I am the Watcher. I do not act.”

And Beast tries to convince himself that it’s not too ay, and the page ends with him as restless as ever.

It was a really great issue, The tension that Beast is enduring is very intense and conveyed really well, angst is Brian michael Bendis’s main jam. It was really amazing to see where the artists all took their page/s along with the story. Some stood out more, which is debatable. But “Greatest Artist Roster” ever? They’re going to have to arm wrestle Harley Quinn #0 for that one. A great issue… i don’t know if the sidenote was worth it. Don’t hate me. But Scott’s in space, Jean Grey AND X-23 are missing him, the plotlines for KP and friends are all wrapped up and in need of a new adventure. And apparently that adventure will be Beast continuing to find a way to send everyone back again, even though that has turned more X-Men against each other. It doesn’t make sense it just makes angst. But… it was good, too. I’m on the fence.