All-New X-Men #8
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez and Marte Garcia
The short of it:
ANGEL! Young Warren goes flying with his present day self, Not-Warren, and all he has are questions. Like, WHY DOES HE HAVE GIANT METAL WINGS?! Of course, all he really gets to ask is why is his present day self so damn strange, but the best he gets is that while he’s Warren, the modern version is just Angel. And that he has a stick up his ass and should enjoy flying freely and enjoying his life. Man, current Angel is a flower child. Anyway, their talk is broken up by big BOOMING at Avengers Tower, and it’s off to fight Hydra they go. Seriously, two guys armed with the power of FLIGHT take on super terrorists, and it’s awesome. Price of admission? Worth it right there. Seriously, these two guys kick the crap out of Hydra for several pages, and it’s pure awesome.
Eventually the Avengers show up to finish things off, and it definitely takes them a minute to realize that there are two Angel’s, and for Cap to decide it’s time to go have a talking to with the only mutant genius he knows. Well, maybe not the only one, but the only one that currently matters. He has a meeting with Beast, which Kitty and Iceman do commentary for in what is the second best part of the issue. Third best? When Kid Cyclops goes up to introduce himself to Cyclops, leaving the Avengers dumbfounded, and Wolverine proud. It’s a nice feel good X-Men moment until alarms start going off from Beast’s lab. Warren wants to go home, badly. His day, despite the awesomeness, completely freaked him out. Yelling, screaming, really just freaking out, all the way up until he isn’t.
Things are weird in the House of X.
What I liked:
What I didn’t like:
I’ve been reading X-Men for almost twenty years and I think this was the most excited I have ever been to see Angel in a spotlight. Any incarnation, and this includes Rick Remender’s Dark Angel Saga, though it is entirely because of Rick Remender’s Dark Angel Saga. Warren’s current status quo is one I’ve been wanting to see Bendis toy with, and given every other X-Man has met their present self (Jean obviously excluded), and in all three cases rather immediately, the lack of any Warren on Angel action was something I’ve noticed. I’ve been calling for this team up since the beginning, and Bendis did not fail to deliver. You want the most drastic change from past to present? Angel is an entirely new person now, with every vestige lost to the Celestial Life Seed that ended his time as the Dark Angel. It’s a spectacular team up, but man, that really does have to haunt his past self.
So the Avengers are in no need of explanation about Hank’s new look, but they are in the dark about the young versions being there? Isn’t Wolverine on both teams? What’s the timeline look like?
On Avengers, most of the humor fell flat. Bendis wanted to do his trademark comedic dialog with characters that, well, aren’t all known for their humor. It worked from time to time, but it was more misses than hits. This hasn’t been the case with X-Men, which actually has been benefitting from all of the Bendisisms that drove me insane on his Avengers. This book features characters bantering believably back and forth, which works with the family dynamic of characters who have, for the most part, been together for years. Something you couldn’t really say with his Assemble It Yourselves Avengers lineups.
Another destroyed Bendisism is the padded pacing that all of his Marvel work has suffered from since he left Daredevil. Book after book written for trade, with arcs that didn’t need to be three issues being stretched to six. It was absolutely maddening, and it plagued his entire tenure on Avengers. Eight issues into X-Men so far, and while yes, the first six issues do sit relatively nicely in trade, he’s abandoned the arc mentality in favor of something far more suited to the franchise (and release schedule). He’s studied Claremont and Lobdell. I know, I know, BOO! HISS! Don’t mention Scott Lobdell! Sure, his modern stuff is lacking, but the man knew how to write X-Men just as well as Claremont, and, apparently, Brian Bendis. The trick? Treat it like a soap opera, move things forward, have certain stories front and center, have others burn slowly on the back, and don’t force yourself into six issues trapped in one story arc if you don’t need to be. Days of Future Past was TWO issues; and Scott vs. Scott from this book? One issue. Perfect.
Seriously, this is the best time to be an X-Men fan in years. Not to knock on Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Matt Fraction, Mike Carey, or any of the others to write a flagship X-Men title (See what I did there? I found a loophole to not count Uncanny X-Force or X-Factor!), but Bendis has won in ten (Uncanny counts) issues. He just gets it, and while I never thought I’d say that again, I can’t stop saying it after every issue of this book. Just awesome.