By: Adam Basciano
“It’s a blast from the past as the original 5 students of Professor X — Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Angel and Beast — are plucked from the past and brought to the present. But they find their future and the state of Xavier’s dream is far from what they dreamed of. And how will the X-Men of the present day react to these original X-Men?” (Marvel Comics)
When it comes to reading X-Men books, I consider myself a bit of a nomad. Through recommendations I’ve read some of the well know storylines in graphic novel format, but when it comes to the monthly titles there’s so many to pick from. Not only that, but many of them were so steeped in years of continuity it felt intimidating while reading. Thankfully, the first volume of the Marvel Now series All-New X-Men offers a great jumping on point. Yes it’s still reliant on recent stories from the past, but gives the reader enough information that they can follow along, not feeling out of the loop. Another plus, the story features time travel, and I’m a sucker for a good time travel story. If the story was trying to earn good will points due to my fondness for “Days of Futures Past”, mission accomplished. I appreciated that several times in this story, several characters make reference to the fact that what they’re doing could have serious ramifications on the space-time continuum. There have been instances in films, television, and literature where this aspect is glossed over or never mentioned. In the midst of everything that happens over the first five issues, writer Brian Michael Bendis never forgets that at the heart of any good X-Men story is character drama. There’s plenty of that here, stemming largely from the reactions the X-Men from the past have to their modern-day counterparts. The main focuses of this tale, are the young Scott Summers coming to terms with the fact that not only is his future self aligned with Magneto, he’s essentially become Magneto prescribing to the same ideals. Oh did I mention, he also killed Professor Xavier? While young Scott is tasked with righting his future wrongs, young Hank McCoy must stop another stage of genetic mutation from killing his future self. Despite these two characters having the weight of the world on their shoulders, Jean Grey has some great emotional turmoil occurring realizing what her own fate will be. Despite the enormity of all that, she still manages to be the voice of reason and has a character defining moment that foreshadows why she became one of the most respected members of the X-Men. This storyline had some heavy themes for the main characters involved, and I appreciated that Bendis used the character of Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman as a source for levity when appropriate.
Art duties are handled by Stuart Immonen. Most of what I’ve seen from Stuart involves his Superman work. I really enjoyed his work on that title, and he brings his best work to this book. He has a tough job of drawing characters and locales in both the past and present and both looked distinct and unique. This book had the sleekness of modern comic books for the present day scenes, and had the classic look of those early X-Men stories. In fact, during those scenes it was like I was looking at a comic book from the 60’s. Jack Kirby would be proud. My favourite pages included Beast showing up on the young X-Men’s doorstep, the scene within Beasts subconscious, featuring Beast, and the younger version of himself and Jean Grey. There was also the optic blast standoff between the two Cyclops that felt like a scene in a classic Western Film. These specific images are fine examples of the immense talent of Stuart Immonen.
I would absolutely recommend this book to any sort of X-Men fan. Whether you’re a longstanding fan of the property, or a relative novice. This book is really the best of both worlds. You get a tale full of the trappings of modern comic book storytelling, yet a tale that harkens back to yesterday. Everybody wins, as fans of the modern team and classic team should be pleased. The start of this all new series is filled with everything that makes for a great X-Men story, and I cant wait to see what the future holds for our time traveling heroes and their modern-day counterparts.
Overall Grade: 10/10