All-New X-Men #4
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils by Stuart Immonen
Inks by Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors by Marte Garcia
Review by Joey Braccino
This is more like it. After last issue’s numerous hiccups (re: shoddy characterization, irregular plotting, Emma Frost’s voice), All-New X-Men #4 regains all of the new series’ initial momentum and then some with pitch-perfect character interactions and intense emotional resonance.
This issue picks up directly after the cliffhanger ending from last issue. Cyclops and Magneto are confronted by the time-displaced Original X-Men. As is often the case, melodramatic hilarity ensues. Bendis dedicates the first 4 pages here to Now-Cyclops’ internal monologue: What supervillain is screwing with his mind now? Is it Mastermind? Mystique? Could it be Emma? Xavier? The narration is equal parts paranoia, guilt, strategy, and numbness, and finally grants Scott some of that same emotional depth that Kieron Gillen so deftly constructed during the latest iteration of Uncanny X-Men. The internal monologue shifts to some old school thought bubbles. At first, the transition is jarring, but it quickly becomes apparent that Bendis has switched focus from Scott’s internal struggle to young Jean Grey’s burgeoning telepathic powers. And then stuff goes down. Cyclops against Cyclops. TK explosions. Flying bicycles. It’s nuts.
The second half of the book features both Cyclopses coping with their confrontation. Here, Stuart Immonen and the artistic corps really shine. Of course, the initial battle between the two cadres of X-folk is explosive and kinetic, but it’s the emotional sequences that both the Young X-Men and Scott’s team go through that are the real visual stand-outs this issue. Immonen wisely illustrates Young Scott and Old Scott reflecting in similar poses on a hillside, connecting the two characters both physically and metaphorically. Similarly, Immonen places subtle facial expressions on each of the Young X-Men, exposing their feelings about being in the present even more so than Bendis’ script could. All of a sudden, I’m fascinated by their future dynamic, and the time-travel aspect of All-New X-Men has become all the more interesting.
Buy it. All-New X-Men is proving to be a fresh and original jumping-on point for new and old readers alike. Unlike the past few issues, Bendis seems to have really grasped the voices and characterization of our merry mutants, particularly Emma Frost and Scott Summers. Their relationship has been the core of the X-Universe for the last decade or so, and it’s nice to see that Bendis hasn’t completely eschewed all of that development in favor of this new status quo. And, of course, throwing a young Jean Grey into the mix will surely amplify that classic X-melodrama!