The combined X-Men teams under Cyclops’ control have been all but taken out by Xavier’s Brotherhood.
With a tactical advantage — being from the future has its perks — Xavier’s mentally controlled mutants have done his bidding with great results, scoring a victory against the teams that beat them in the Battle of the Atom crossover.
But last issue ended with a bit of a cliffhanger as the presumed-to-be-dead Laura Kinney (X-23) sprang into action to lay down some pain on Xavier.
All-New X-Men #29 brings us up to speed with Jean Grey exhibiting some of her awesome powers. Having taken control of Laura, Grey also masks her actions on a mental level. Xavier, unable to adapt to the changing circumstances, is left wide open on his blindside for visceral attack.
Kinney’s killer instinct holds nothing back, and once the hive mind is stopped, the Brotherhood comes to, realizing they’ve been forced to do Xavier and Raze’s bidding. You’d think the fighting would stop at this point, but Xavier isn’t finished. Commanding everyone to attack everyone, a skirmish of epic proportions takes place within the secret Xavier School’s hall.
All-New X-Men #29 is a straightforward issue with brawls and blood. It’s the end of the arc, so there’s a lot of wrapping up to do. It’s revealed that Xorn is a construct, the Brotherhood sans Raze and Xavier go back to the future, and Cyclops proves he’s not a killer when he’s given the opportunity a sort of redo.
That last plot point may be the most important of all. For the past few years, the matter of Cyclops responsibility in Professor Xavier’s death has been a topic of heated discussion. Since the murder, Scott Summers has carried the guilt while claiming innocence.
Admittedly, he accepted the Phoenix’s powers and claimed responsibility for being unable to control the power that possessed him. Still, it was never his intention to kill his mentor, and now being of full mind and body, Cyclops relives the decision and makes the one that matters to him.
Unfortunately, that decision could come back to haunt him.
Overall, the issue feels a bit rushed to its conclusions, but the problem is perhaps due to the format than with the writing itself. If Brian Michael Bendis had an infinite amount of space to work with without the constraints of a monthly — the usual methodology of introduction, story continuation, cliffhanger — things could have worked more for the story’s benefit.
Still, what we’ve been given here is a lot of development and answers. Cyclops’ redemption, Jean’s open future, and hope that the original X-Men can be sent back — these elements feed the current storylines with some compelling bits of food for thought.
And when it comes to the artwork, Stuart Immonen has seriously upped his game with some beautiful and articulate panels and pages. One particular page, which could have been used as a double-page spread, goes vertical in an invertigo-inducing trip that will have you spinning the issue around trying to figure out which way is up.
I’ll say it again, Immonen’s ability to create cinematic panels makes him one of the best artists working in comics today. We see exactly what we need to see to progress the story, and the facial expressions tell a story on their own.
Of course, when talking about the artwork, it takes a team to complete an issue with Wade Von Grawbadger on inks, Marte Gracia and Jason Keith on colors, and Cory Petit on letter duties.
Von Grawbadger’s inks are a sight to behold. They’re so precise with a blend of contrasts between heavy pools of black and thin lines. Characters are clearly defined, which is huge because of all the action taking place.
If the pencils and inks provide the lyrics, Gracia and Keith’s colors play the music. Atmosphere is one of Gracia’s strengths, and during monochromatic sets, the various shades show off an incredible range. And when the story takes the X-Men outside or to a horrific flashback, there’s strong separation through tones.
And while I still don’t feel perfectly comfortable talking about lettering because I’m on unfamiliar territory, Petit’s contributions add extra layers to create an extremely polished issue.
I know I’m gushing, and if the creative team had a graphic novel to work with, I assume it’d be something to behold. With about 20 pages on a monthly basis, it’s obvious we’re getting the best efforts, and it’s hard to complain about the product when it’s hitting inside-the-park homeruns.
I’m looking forward to the next issue now that it looks like there will be an emphasis on the most underused X-Men of all: Angel. The angle is interesting enough — as the young X-Man steals Cyclops bike, we see how the circle closes in on itself. And then we realize, this All-New X-Men is history repeating itself, and that’s a great thing.
All-New X-Men #29 (2012)
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia and Jason Keith
Letters: Cory Petit