During the Battle of the Atom crossover, one of the questions that lacked a critical answer was: What made the future Brotherhood of Evil Mutants so angry?
Last issue, we got some real answers as Xavier’s origin story was revealed along with the beginnings of his partnership with his half-brother Raze. Without a father to teach him how to control his powers, the abandoned Xavier killed his foster mother and left home to look for answers.
What he found was unacceptable. After Charles Xavier’s death, the X-Men moved on, and from Xavier’s perspective, it seemed as though the very memory of Charles Xavier was wiped away through action and deed.
So what seemed like a mission to correct past mistakes may have been an actual plot for revenge against his father’s murderers. Unable to beat the X-Men of the future, Raze comes up with a plan to beat the X-men in the past without erasing their own selves in the process. In any event the Brotherhood fail, all they have to do is leave notes.
All-New X-Men #28 also gives us future Hank McCoy’s motivation — or forced inclusion — for joining the Brotherhood. His mind wracked with guilt, McCoy spends his time secluded in his mechanical palace of chalkboards. For every possibility, there’s an alternate future, and McCoy can’t figure out how to change the past.
Xavier assembles the team for all-out warfare on the future X-Men until Raze comes up with the plan to go back in time. The Secret Xavier school was breached last issue, and most of the members of Cyclops’ team were incapacitated using the Stepford Cuckoos’ hive mind. That left the two elder and broken X-Men — Cyclops and Emma Frost — to protect Xavier’s most valuable target: Jean Grey.
Locked in the hive mind, Jean Grey comes under attack from Xavier’s psychic powers. In ironic fashion, Xavier even takes control of Cyclops intending to have Summers’ optic blast kill off the young version of his ex-wife. Frost takes matters into her own hands, but it’s Jean who proves she’s the X-Factor.
It’s becoming a torturous affair waiting for future issues of All-New X-Men. Brian Michael Bendis has been leading fans with a carrot on a stick that occasionally comes close enough for a quick but ultimately unsatisfying bite. Don’t take that to mean any of it is bitter — I just want more, and I want it now.
This story arc is already more compelling and fleshed out than the Battle of the Atom crossover, and while it’s been a treat to watch the classic X-Men in this present time, we’ve got a contrasting dynamic that further heightens the drama.
McCoy’s original intention in bringing the X-Men from the past to the present was to remind everyone of their former selves. The X-Men began with a dream, and in its infancy, Xavier’s team of teenagers was a purer version filled with raw hope.
But once show and tell ended, McCoy had no answer for why the team couldn’t return to its original place — which brings up continuity issues that I’ll get to later.
The classic X-Men’s presence in the present altered the future, and a murderous Xavier has returned to forge a better timeline for himself by eliminating anyone who could ever possibly contend with him. While the past was meant to bring hope and sensibility to the present X-Men, the future has returned to kill them all off.
But Xavier’s plans don’t seem to mesh with Xorn’s reason for attacking the X-Men in back in the Battle of the Atom. It seemed to be a genuine surprise that that classic X-Men could not be returned, and we learn in this issue that Xavier and Raze just want a rewrite, not a cancellation of their existences. We do see that the Brotherhood is under Xavier’s control, but the overall picture feels a bit convoluted now with conflicting motivations that might be the product of ret-connning or recasting the story.
But I could be getting way too far ahead of myself here — we still have at least one more issue in the chamber, and we don’t know the forest from the trees that Bendis has been planting over the course of the last few years.
What we can immediately see is brought to us by penciller extraordinaire, Stuart Immonen. The X-Men books have top-notch talent on their creative teams, and Immonen’s artwork continues to deliver. I sound like a broken record when I call it cinematic, but if these books were turned into movies, a cinematographer would do well just by following these issues as storyboards.
Inker Wade Von Grawbadger and colorist Marte Gracia also have a hand in creating one of the most visually appealing titles in the comic world. Grawbadger’s detailing does not look like it takes anything for granted, and it’s so amazingly consistent across the board. Gracia’s colors go for bold reds, toned blues, and contrasting hues that don’t muddy up the brilliant action sequences.
All-New X-Men is a killer title that has enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats. The tricky part will be the finish, which will determine a good chunk of the story’s weight in the grand scope of things. We have interesting characters who have it out for each other, but the purpose and development need to be as, or even more, important and worth the price of admission.
The last page is enough to make me want to travel to the future for a sneak peek. It’s up to Bendis to bring it all together — a complicated story of time and place.
I can’t wait.
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