All-New X-Men #6
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez
Colors by Marte Gracia
Review by Joey Braccino
Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men keeps rolling on with issue #6, an issue that helps to transition us out of the first status-quo altering story arc. After issue #5 ended with Young Jean Grey deciding that the Young X-Men need to stay in the present to save the world, Bendis wisely spends this issue slowing things down and exploring the ramifications of the decision on several of our X-heroes, young and old. While the Jean Grey material in the issue is interesting, it’s the welcome sequences between Young Scott Summers and Wolverine that really lend emotional weight to the issue.
Bendis employs his trademark decompression writing style well in this issue, allowing for each and every character beat to be mined for all its worth. While Jean Grey grapples with her burgeoning telepathy and Scott Summers deals with the awkward glances and questioning looks, Bendis’ script takes the time to provide artist David Marquez with ample opportunities to display the characters’ discomfort and angst. If anything, by bringing back the original X-Men, Bendis can bring back a lot of the “original” metaphoric meaning to the X-Men—i.e. mutation as a metaphor for teenage angst and puberty. Of course there are the elements of prejudice and discrimination, but at its heart, a primary focus of the X-Universe was and has been coping with being different, particularly during the teenage years. By bringing the young X-Men back to the future, Bendis can not only return to this ample thematic material, but he can also put these pubescent characters into contact with characters like Kitty Pryde and Storm—characters who have weathered the trying times and presume to know the answers.
David Marquez takes over for Stuart Immonen this issue, and his hyper-realistic style is perfect for the character driven focus. While Marquez’ artwork may lack the kineticism of a Stuart Immonen or Bendis’ upcoming collaborator, Chris Bachalo, Marquez imbues his fine linework with emotional weight and naturalism. Think Jamie McKelvie (of whom I am a HUGE fan) or Emma Rios. While the change-over in style may jar recurring readers, the All-New X-Men editorial team wisely kept Marte Gracia on colors, lending the artwork some degree of consistent aesthetics despite the changeover in penciler.
Buy it. The art is lovely and the characterization fresh. Bendis is on a roll right now with the X-Men, especially when juggling his two iterations of my personal favorite Marvel character, Scott Summers. This review was spectacularly spoiler-free because each of the character developments in this issue deserve to be read with a clean slate. Check it out!