Though she’s died several times — at least three by my count — Grey, aka Marvel Girl, has a special place in the hearts of comic readers the world over. When All-New X-Men launched, it was a chance for readers to reconnect to the original Jean before she met Wolverine, before she had telepathic powers, before she … well, died.
Everyone knows Grey married Scott Summers — even she knows after young Summers gave her the wedding invitation Cyclops kept in his lockbox. The future isn’t a subject Jean Grey’s shown much interest in — after the Dark Phoenix saga, she made it clear she wanted nothing to do with her future daughter Rachel.
In All-New X-Men #14, Grey’s ability to “listen” to thoughts reveals one X-Man’s long unrequited love for her. During a training session between the elder McCoy and Grey, Jean discovers how deep McCoy’s affection for her is, and it leads her to test the waters. Confronting the young McCoy who can’t deny what’s already known, Jean shares a possible first and second kiss.
Scott, on the other hand, who started out as a social misfit before coming into his own as the cool and confident team leader joins Bobby Drake for a trip on the town where they witness how much the social climate has changed. Instead of being shunned by the normals, Drake and Summers find themselves surrounded by interested teens. A dramatic car chase gives the two young X-Men a chance to impress their peers before Logan finds them and whisks them back home.
The two parallel stories between Jean and Scott play out through self-discovery and grounded characterization. Jean, after kissing McCoy, returns to her room and sees the wedding invitation hasn’t changed. Her body language suggests several things — 1. She may not be able to change the future, and 2. She’s going to keep trying anyways.
Scott’s journey into becoming the team leader he’s meant to be has accelerated, but under unusual circumstances. The original Cyclops was birthed in fire — tested by hatred, violence, and force, Cyclops earned his stripes by remaining, until recently, a reputation as worthy of respect. Forwarded into these modern days where his future self has become a hero of the people — and for different reasons — Scott finds he’s accepted for who he is.
For readers who’ve stuck with the X-Men for decades, reading All-New X-Men #14 is something else. Bendis isn’t rewriting the past — he’s changing the future. He’s using characters steeped with history, and instead of making up the rules as he goes along, Bendis takes what’s old and established and brings it into a modern age, often with hilarious results. Whether it’s reminding people that kids back then didn’t carry personal phones, or a mother and daughter both displaced in time meeting in the hallway, All-New X-Men has been a real treat.
David Lafuente takes over on art duties this issue, and fans of Stuart Immonen’s style might feel like there’s a huge tone shift here. With an art style that’s on the cartoony side with posed figures and freeze-frame panels, All-New X-Men looks more like that other X-Book, Wolverine and the X-Men. It bears an even closer resemblance to the Archie books, which might explain why this issue about teens and love went with Lafuente.
Lines are clean, and the artwork is easy to interpret. The colors by Jim Campbell are vibrant. Beast’s blue fur stands out, and the reds of Jean and Rachel’s hair along with Cyclops’ ruby glasses pop off the page. Background hues vary panel to panel which keeps the eyes from getting bored.
It’s not quite the love-triangle the cover would lead you to believe, and there may be deeper and manipulative motives for what’s being considered. Jean Grey, the ultimate Marvel girl, looks a little more like Dark Phoenix because of the way she weaves her influence and control. Scott Summers, on the other hand, remains pure, though it looks like he’s starting to accept his future self as a fair path.
All-New X-Men’s title may be deceiving in that way. These are historic figures, adapting or fighting to remain the same. Bendis’ respect for the source material is apparent, and he’s giving us more of the same here. And that’s a good thing.