Friday, November 16, 2012

WGTB Reviews All New X-Men #1

Marvel NOW! continued this week with All-New X-Men #1, Mighty Thor #1 and Fantastic Four #1 arriving on the shelves of our local comic shops. Because this is a big week for first issues from Marvel, I'm going to try to write more than one review. I'll begin with a book I have particularly been looking forward to: All-New X-Men #1, a comic that brings the original five X-Men from the past and drops them into the present day. 

Marvel's All New X-Men #1 (January 2013) Written by Brian Michael Bendis with pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger, colours by Marte Gracia & letters by VC's Cory Petit. Edited by Nick Lowe $3.99

(Spoilers Below) 

Honestly, when I first heard Marvel was doing this, I was skeptical as it almost sounded a little too ‘comic-booky’. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the premise. Having just witnessed the massive fall from grace that Scott Summers experienced during Avengers vs X-Men, I got thinking how interesting it would be for a younger Cyclops to see what he's become. Of course, with Jean Grey having been gone for years now, I also thought it'd be interesting seeing how those characters who've particularly missed her react to a younger Jean, especially with Brian Michael Bendis writing the dialogue.  

All-New X-Men #1 starts with Hank McCoy in pain as he's about to experience his third mutation. We don't see this, as the story quickly moves from the Gold Coast of Australia to Ann Arbor, Michigan where we see mutants appearing out of the blue and Cyclops, Magneto and Emma Frost assisting their new 'brothers and sisters' handle the authorities who are trying to arrest them. This hostility is noticed by the X-Men at the Jean Grey School and we then move to a debate between its leaders who are trying to resolve how to respond to the hostility of their erstwhile leader. We don't see a resolution to the debate, because before this is resolved, we're sent to a flashback of the original X-Men where Beast arrives to talk his colleagues and ask a younger Cyclops to go into the future and talk some sense to the man he has become.
Beast in All-New X-Men #1 (January 2012)
While I typically start my reviews with my assessment of the writing, in his particular case I'd like to start with the artwork. I really enjoyed Stuart Immonen’s pencils and certainly count him as one of my favourite artists in comics right now. The younger X-Men, while having a somewhat retro look, do not look dated or tied to any particular era and this makes their look work. Jean Grey's hair, for example, looks like it could be from either the 1960s Batman show or an early 90s episode of Friends. The lines are smooth, the faces expressive and interesting, and the action sequences enjoyable. Immonen rendition of Beast also has a cool 'early 90s' Jim Lee's X-Men #1 look, which ties the 2012 characters to that important era magnificently.  

Which takes us to Bendis' story, which was good but not great. Again, as a first issue there wasn't too much to really get worked up about. But my sense is that this story could have used a little more packed into it, especially given that it was $3.99. Frankly, it was a 'Scott's at it again' comic which is fine, but I was starting to look forward to moving on from this past summer. Don't get me wrong: there were good parts and the exchange between McCoy and the younger Cyclops was especially well written and captured their personalities very well. I just felt a little short-changed because I didn't get to see the young X-Men move into the future by the end of the story. That would have made a great concluding splash for Immonen and really get us readers pumped for the second issue. 
The younger X-Men argue about their role in the world in All-New X-Men #1 (January 2012)
So All-New X-Men #1 was a decent enough start to what will obviously be a flagship series for the X-books. There's certainly places for this comic to go, and as I said earlier, it will be great seeing the older X-characters interact with the new. Stuart Immonen's art was great, but on the whole the story could have used a little more substance to it. Because of that it only gets  3.5/5 STARS.

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