Brian Michael Bendis finished strong with both Avengers and New Avengers, concluding an astonishing run that cemented the two groups forever. With issue #2 of All-New X-Men, Bendis is quickly finding his rhythm with the mutant crowd. X-Men books are notoriously convoluted and jumping into one can be a real sink or swim experience. Bendis alleviates all that by focusing on a tried and true comic formula, the time traveler.
The mutant world is in a bit of duress these days. After committing horrible atrocities while possessed with the Phoenix, Cyclops has escaped capture and is now acting in the role of Mutant Savior, though many see him as a terrorist. Meanwhile, the mutants at Jean Grey School are against a wall. They can’t abide Cyclops’ methods, but fear a face-to-face confrontation will throw the mutants into a civil war.
Watching all this transpire, Hank McCoy, aka Beast, decides on a serious hail mary idea. He travels back in time to the days of the original X-Men to try and convince a young Cyclops to reason with his older self. Why try something so risky? Turns out the mutation that caused Hank to become all blue and furry is striking again, and this time it means to kill him. Hank wants to try and end the destructive conflict before he dies.
All-New X-Men #2 is already rife with multiple storylines - Cyclops and his team, the Jean Grey School mutants, Beast’s personal problems and this overall arc on time travel. Bendis never drops the ball, and he keeps all the plotlines interwoven and allows them to build off each other. When Hank returns with the original X-Men, the reaction is far from favorable. It’s funny to watch Iceman confront his newer, more dimensional self, while a bit melancholy to see Jean Grey find out about who she is and who she becomes. I really enjoyed how forthright and open the original X-Men are. Bendis writes them as the characters they were, unspoiled by all the dogs of war they’ve seen and the demons they’ve dealt with. The contrast between the original X-Men and the modern era is striking.
Artist Stuart Immonen really helps Bendis tell his story. The normal artwork is wonderful, filled with Immonen’s detailed pencils and heavy shading, but it’s the contrast between how he draws the original X-Men and the modern world that really clicks. The original X-Men are drawn with en eye towards the '60s Silver Age art, very clean and almost Mod-Squad-looking. That work stands sharply against the Modern Age X-Men, even down to Immonen penciling Hank differently when he visits the original X-Men in their timeline. That juxtaposition of the art helps nail Bendis’ story.
All-New X-Men #2 is already one the most exciting mutant books on shelves.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)