Marvel NOW! Review: All-New X-Men #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-New X-Men #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Garcia

The short of it:

It’s potentially the final days of Hank McCoy, as his body continues to mutate in ways he can only presume will lead to his death. Ever the hero, ever the visionary, if he is to leave this world then he wants to do so making it a better place for his people. Especially with new mutants like this Australian girl named Eva, who just so happened to manifest her ability to freeze time and now there are a lot of pissed off normal humans trying to get through her time bubble. Good think Cyclops is there…wait, Cyclops? Scott, Emma, and Magneto do a recruiting run. They want to help this girl learn who she has become, and keep her safe from the oppression she will face at the hands of normal humans. Seems far fetched, right? Not really, the first sign these soldiers get that she’s a mutant and there’s a circle of guns in her face. Liberty, thy name is Scott Summers.

The ‘real’ X-Men watch this on TV, and they fight. A lot. Meanwhile another new mutant is being held by police and questioned, angrily, about powers he didn’t know he had. Scott saves him and informs the public of his mission, to fight for mutant rights. He also makes another thing clear….he’s still an X-Man. The ‘real’ X-Men continue to fight about what to do, because really, when your team is Iceman, Storm, Kitty Pryde, and Beast…there’s going to be a lot of arguing instead of hitting of things, that would require some Wolverine. Beast winds up with a fantastic idea, and the next thing you know….we’ve hit the mission statement for this book. Teenage original X-Men coming to today.

What I liked:

  • Holy hell, Bendis writes the crap out of Hank McCoy here. One of the best Beast issues I’ve read in years, he’s the smartest most selfless guy in the room just like he always should be. I was a fan of the mad scientist version Jason Aaron had used in Wolverine and the X-Men, but this is MY Beast. He thinks he’s dying and rather than tell anyone he tries to save the day, total Spock move.
  • Speaking of Beast, I’d be remiss to not bring up that when we finally get to the past and meet the younger versions of the classic five, that it’s the young Hank McCoy who is spouting, essentially, the same things as modern Scott. I can’t wait to see where that goes.
  • After dealing with the worst writing of Cyclops I’d ever sat through for the duration of AVX, you have no idea how blown away I was to crack open this book and find a Scott Summers that I completely believe in. He’s not a generic villain, or a modern day Magneto. He’s still Scott Summers, he’s still the same Cyclops we’ve known for years. He’s just done pulling his punches when dealing with the hatred humanity throws at him.
  • His recruitments are awesome, I would totally buy his sales pitch.
  • Hot damn, I expected the art to kick all kinds of ass, and I was not let down! Stuart Immonen is drawing the X-Men twice a month? I am sold! The level of exceptional quality that I have grown accustomed to out of the artist is on display here, and he once again really helps prop up Bendis’s script and make it that much better. Wade von Grawbadger is, as per usual, the inker of choice (seriously, Bendis/Immonen/Wade is a pretty popular combo), and Marte Garcia does a fantastic job coloring here. Really, the book is gorgeous.

What I didn’t like:

  • For as much planning and set up went into all of this, and the fact that we deal with the horrendous AVX, and Consequences that had a good finale and a horrible everything else, I’ve actually been surprised at how well they managed to force everything into place. However, when did Emma get picked up? When last we saw Scott he was with Magneto and Magik and that was it, where did Emma get set free?
  • If Beast has a working time machine then why the hell have we never seen it used before? Seriously, so many problems could have been fixed by using it, but he saves it to teach Scott a lesson with past Scott.
  • Really, the ‘real’ X-Men, save for Beast, were just kinda whiny here. There wasn’t a whole lot for them to do, but whiny is still whiny.

Final thoughts:

In all my years of reading Brian Bendis, I’ve picked up a lot of number one issues and a lot of random numbers in the middle when he’s taken over an existing book…really just the first one, Bendis likes getting fresh numberings. Now, in all of those years, there have only been a handful of books I’ve managed to stick it out with, and only a few books that I really felt positive going in with. This issue is, far and away, the best first issue I have ever read from Brian Bendis on a non-creator owned property. The pacing is perfect, the characters are perfect, hell, I didn’t even mind that the cliffhanger isn’t even a spoiler since he announced it months ago. It’s just a brilliantly put together first issue.

I feared further character assassination of Scott Summers after the crap that has gone on over the past few months. It had seemed a pretty safe bet that the current office had no real love or respect for the longest tenured X-Man, and that they all felt that Wolverine was the right way to go as far as building the brand. This issue felt like a complete wash of that mindset, and a conscious decision to rebuild the brand as what it always was and always should be. Sure, having Scott as the militant guy on the outside is new territory, but he’s not a villain. He’s simply a man who wants to protect his people from the oppressive humanity, and understands that it is his fault that they have gotten so bad.

New mutants being people in their 20’s is a sweet little novelty, and can really help not force the tone of X-Men back to purely a teaching kids environment. Not that I mind that sort of a status quo, but it’s been awhile since I got to watch a good mutant on mutant brawl without talk of “what about the children”?

Scott’s team still wearing X’s and being as proactive as possible with these new mutant cases is such a great idea. This isn’t the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and they don’t even seem to want to hurt the humans they are fighting, they simply want to save the new blood and if someone gets in their way, they don’t mind stopping them.

So the teenage X-Men from the past look pretty vintage. Let’s assume Scott is 27, and started at sixteen. Yes, I am willing to grant the Marvel Universe an eleven year calendar, because it works. Peter Parker is still 25-26, it works. So eleven years ago it was 2001. I see Scott hand writing a letter, I see a land line, nothing overly electronic, and a brilliant way out of trying to say exactly what year it was.

Eva, the Aussie girl we meet during Scott’s entrance, has an awesome power set. Localized time stopping. The twenty hours thing is strange, since it seemed instant for her, but I can deal with it. Time powers are rarely used and usually fun.

Not using Wolverine anywhere in this issue is actually really impressive. I’m so used to him being the poster boy of the entire line that it’s such a relief to see the new prominent X book launch and focus on all the characters aside from him. The last thing we needed was two Wolverine and the X-Men books….I mean, I like the one we’ve got, but he doesn’t need that much exposure.

Overall: 9/10

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