Marvel NOW! Review: All-New X-Men #2 by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-New X-Men #2
Written by Brian Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Marte Garcia

The short of it:

Kitty and Bobby go looking for the mysteriously missing Beast, who is nowhere to be found because he’s IN THE PAST! That’s right, Beast is still giving a sales pitch to the younger versions of the original five, trying to convince them to come with him without spoiling too much. Spoiler alert, he spoils wayyyy too much, and Charles Xavier in the past must be a terrible telepath to not notice this dude in his house. Beast paints this picture of Darth Scott, some super evil super villain of Scott without ever bothering to mention “By the way, he was possessed by this cosmic force of extreme power”, so when the team does eventually decide to go with him they figure Scott is Magneto on steroids. Of course, this means they have to see the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, which means Jean has to ask the obvious question of “Why is the school named after me?”

Also, Wolverine has to debut in the book by trying to blind rage stab young Scott. Because all he smells is Scott. Despite rookie status, the original X-Men manage to stop the pissed off headmaster as the other current X-Men come out…and Beast has a mutation attack. Everyone gets him settled and tries to figure out what’s wrong with him, and just why exactly he would do such a thing to the time-space continuum, and Wolverine decides to talk to them. Jean decides she doesn’t want to talk to him, so Logan gets shut down and the kids see something…interesting on the news, and the next thing we know….onwards to the next issue!

What I liked:

  • Wolverine’s class on ninja confrontations is the best single panel I have ever seen out of Bendis. That alone makes everything from X-Men since Schism worth it. Wolverine explaining to kids, with a chalkboard and X’s and O’s, how to deal with a Ninja Master confrontation.
  • Iceman meets Iceman.
  • The dialogue as a whole. It’s a really fun to read book, and he’s got most of the characters down pretty well off the bat. A few hiccups, sure, but it’s a good read.
  • For as happy as I was last week to not have to see Wolverine, his inclusion was absolutely perfect in this issue.
  • I really love the X-Kids. Bendis wisely avoids making them feel like period characters and instead keeps their characterization based around their youth. Even their commentary on new technology is limited to commenting on how nice the TV’s are. I was dreading a potential “what’s a cell phone?” question out of one of them.
  • The art across the board is awesome. Stuart Immonen turns in his usual home run art here, and it’s not just me saying so. The kids look like kids, Kitty looks barely older than they are, Wolverine and Beast are great looking, and there’s some channeling of Chris Bachalo in the Iceman design. This art team brings high expectations and never fails to deliver.

What I didn’t like:

  • The convenient nature of young Jean Grey’s telepathy. Beast tells her she has it, and a few pages later she’s mental whammying people.
  • Young Hank was kinda annoying. Bit of a know it all, bit of a show off, really came across like he was trying to compensate because his friends just found out that he grows up into a blue furry cat like super genius.
  • Warren is relegated to a background voice. Most of his lines are generic enough that any of the young X-Men could have said them. He’s just…he’s there, and he has wings, and it makes me sad because it reminds about what present day Warren has essentially become when not going through Archangel plots.
  • Jean should have learned about her fate on panel.

Final thoughts:

When did everyone else start calling Beast “Henry”? Like, yes, I know his name is Henry McCoy, and that there are characters who always called him that (Charles, Storm), but most people called him Hank.

Did Kitty and Bobby ever officially get together? I read Wolverine and the X-Men and just can’t remember.

So the time machine is Beast improving on a Von Doom/Richards design. Alright, I’m fine with that,

Jean Grey is wasted quite a bit in this issue, I mean, sure, she’s prominent from cover to cover, but the character feels rushed. She finds out about her death off-panel, and develops her telepathy simply because Beast tells her she eventually develops it. By no means is she handled poorly, but there are just moments I wish we could have seen actual time given to that are brushed over.

So if Beast is incapacitated due to spontaneous mutating death, is that how we’re going to explain the kids stuck in the now? I’m fine with that, I really am, but I really don’t want to lose Beast for an extended period of time this early. Last issue was some of the best Hank McCoy I’ve read in years, I want more.

Normally by the second issue of a Bendis series I’m expecting to finally get the story off the ground enough for the characters to spend two issues stalling again. He pads stories out to the point of frustration, rarely allowing for a satisfying single issue. I’ve had this problem with him for years, and have dropped countless books (three different Avengers titles and Ultimate Spider-Man on four occasions) in the process, but this book doesn’t have that flaw. Two issues in and I feel like I’ve read two issue by any other writer, five issues of typical Bendis content done in the right pacing…it’s fantastic. He finally figured out how to pace an exciting book that can be read in single issues!

Seriously, take all of the good parts of Bendis, combine them with fast pacing and things happening, and stir it up with the art team? This might be my book of the week.

Overall: 9/10

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