All-New X-Men #1: Bendis Begins

Can the original five X-Men come to our present day and stop an impending mutant civil war?

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

All-New X-Men #1

And so it begins. The Brian Michael Bendis takeover of the X-Men starts here, with All-New X-Men #1, named somewhat ironically because it centers around the notion of the all-old original five Stan Lee/Jack Kirby X-Men (that would be Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman and Angel, for the uninitiated) coming forward in time to slap the modern-day Scott Summers silly.

So how does it work? Well, the first issue ain't half bad. Let it be known that I have a tendency to look askance at Bendis' Marvel work, as I was one of those fans whose sandbox he shat in when he dropped trou and gave us Avengers: Disassembled. I have liked some of his work in the past and the present, but I have found a lot of it off-putting as well. While I enjoyed All-New X-Men #1, that doesn't mean I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop.

That shoe might come in the form of Dr. Henry McCoy apparently suffering through a tertiary (or is it quadrary by now? The handy Marvel AR app would seem to imply that) mutation out of nowhere that's threatening his life. What the hell are they going to turn Hank into now? Hopefully, not a rhinoceros or something. But for now, it gives him the impetus to do something impetuous – like travel back in time and ask the young Cyclops to smack some sense into the old Cyclops. It seems Old Scott has escaped from prison and joined up other wanted criminals with Magneto, Emma Frost, Magik and Danger to start hunting down all the new post-Phoenix mutants to recruit them into their ranks, and making an aggressively antagonistic show of it, too. Those left at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning are left frustrated with this, knowing that if they let Scott do what he's doing, it's only a matter of time before the government shuts down their school, but if they fight him, they get a mutant civil war out of it. Nobody's got the stomach for that after Avengers vs. X-Men and Civil War and all that malarkey (you better not have the stomach for that, Bendis!), and after listening to Bobby Drake rant about how Scott's betraying everything they ever fought for, Hank makes his move.

So far, so good. Bendis is taking his time with setting this up – he's not just dropping the O.G. X-M in our time and making them figure everything out, but rather he's got a plan here, and when Bendis takes his time with unfolding a story, as he did when he began Ultimate Spider-Man, it can turn out pretty well. Also, as we've just seen with Spider-Men, when Bendis has characters from alternate realities meet (and the Lee/Kirby era and today's comics might as well be alternate realities), the conversations they have about the little differences can be greatly entertaining.  Stuart Immonen's art is also pretty great – the meeting between young big-hand-big-feet Hank and imposing, huge blue-fur cat Beast is striking. It's an interesting choice on Immonen's part to cover today's Beast with pouches and ammo belts for some reason helps to drive home the differences between modern comicsand the well-dressed suits-and-ties of yesteryear.

All-New X-Men #1 is an interesting start, and it has the potential to be absolutely fascinating if it doesn't get too schticky or smugly glib with self-satisfaction. That shoe may indeed drop, but for now, the first one's hit the ground running.