With regret, I have to say that Uncanny X-Men #34 made me question what Marvel’s intentions are for the X-Men series as a whole, especially with Secret Wars creating a brand new universe.
The end is near.
As issues approach the Uncanny X-Men #600 mark that will end the series in time for Secret Wars, it looks like the spotlight has landed squarely back on Cyclops.
Matthew Malloy’s existence threatens all else.
And so Uncanny X-Men #31 brings the X-Men to the point of no return as Malloy wipes out the entire Jean Grey School, leaving Eva Bell and Professor Charles Xavier the dubious task of retroactively removing him from the picture.
All-New X-Men #35 ended just as Miles Morales launched a sudden attack on Doom only to be countered by a devastating blast.
Issue #36 continues from that super-ultra-combo finisher with a double-page spread of the Doctor surveying his victory. Two sets of X-Men and an Ultimate Spider-Man have been beaten, and Doom’s first act as champion is unmasking Morales.
With Miles’ secret out in the open, Doom threatens to end Spider-Man’s life. But before he can do that, Jean Grey distracts him long enough to psychically wake up her friends. Round two ends just as quickly as it starts with Kitty Pryde attempting to destroy Doom’s armor with her phasing ability. Doom self-destructs, leaving his headquarters wide open for a riot led by one really ticked-off Hank McCoy.
Now that the All-New X-Men, the Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Spider-Man have basically won Earth-1610, the only thing left to do is get the Earth-616 kids back home.
Conveniently, the mutant with teleporting powers that started this whole arc appears in their midst and does just that.
So ends this chapter of All-New X-Men, and while it all seems pretty cut and dry, I’m just really glad it’s over. This was probably my least favorite arc of the entire series, and now that it’s said and done — I’m not sure that the last four issues added anything to the mix. Anyone who had missed issues #32-36 could be filled in with a quick synopsis.
The All-New X-Men were teleported to the Ultimate Universe. They fought Dr. Doom. They came home.
We get a few glimpses of alternate universes that might be a precursor to Battleworld, but the arc as a whole was a listless journey through a comparable Earth with very little progression or development for the main story arc or the characters. The only real end result is an angry Hank McCoy who decides it’s time to change the world. The problem I have with that is — McCoy spends the least amount of time out and about on Earth-1610. After landing on a beach, he spends most of the arc in Doom’s house and laboratory.
The prospect of having Miles and the Ultimate X-Men on tap at the beginning of the arc seemed to suggest some major plot points, but All-New X-Men #36 doesn’t even manage to produce any real sparks. Brian Michael Bendis has left a lot on the table for this throwaway side-mission, and there’s a real lack of force that’s permeated the past few issues.
On the art side, All-New X-Men looks good if not great. Mahmud Asrar excels in his action panels with some very epic big-picture stuff, like Jean’s standoff with Doom or the moments leading up to Doom’s headquarters getting destroyed. During conversational frames, the artwork begins to suffer. Facial expressions lack life, and the dearth of detail irons out the pages, making the panels look really flat.
Marte Gracia’s colors are high-contrast and bold, adding some dimension to the faces through shading. I like Gracia’s reds which are un-apologetically bright, and his lighting is top notch.
I’m ready to move on from this arc to the next. With all that’s been announced, I get the feeling like the X-Books are starting to enter another gear. My expectations are tempered, however, due to so many of the arcs ending on disappointing notes. The problem is not so much with the conclusion — it’s how the entire story fails to live up to its promises. With issue after issue leading us down a road that constantly reminds us of the scenery, even a couple of beautiful sunsets are not enough. Fans want to see plot points dealt with, and there’s a lot fluttering around in the wind, and we’re about to pull up into the parking lot any minute now.
Previous Issue: All-New X-Men #35 Review
My biggest criticism of the Uncanny X-Men series thus far has been its lack of a solid narrative with defining points.
The current volume started out strong as Cyclops gathered up his closest allies while being hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other X-Men. After that, the plotting began to meander through various storylines that started off with huge potential only to fizzle away. Between focusing on the new members or developing the complex tensions between Cyclops and his own team — and don’t forget the bitter emotions embroiling Cyclops and his former X-Men — the story at large seems pretty watered down due to a lack of solid impact.
Things have not been easy for Scott Summers.
As Professor Xavier’s brightest student, young Summers bore the weight of the mutant world during a time of awakening for all mutantkind. Leading a team of peers in a war against public opinion was one thing — Scott also had to fight his mentor’s battles as well by taking on the likes of Magneto and anyone opposed to the ideology of humans living in peace with mutants.
All-New X-Men #35 wastes little time and gets right into the thick of things with an epic double-page spread of the X-Men of Earth-616 fighting alongside the Ultimate X-Men and Spider-Man against Dr. Doom’s various machinations.
Young Jean Grey meets the Ultimate X-Men, Bobby Drake gets apprehended by anti-mutant policemen, and Hank McCoy becomes Dr. Doom’s newest project.
Trying to get back home to their original world, the various X-Men from Earth-616 seem lost without a clue as they try — and fail — to stay out of trouble.
To recap — Back in issue #17, Bell and her teammates were stranded in Tabula Rasa by Magik for a bit of a training session. The crap hit the fan when a giant beast attacked, sending the team in panic. Caught under the heel of a giant bird-lizard-dinosaur, Eva time-bubbled her way out of trouble, leaving Fabio behind.
When she returned, much older and a little worse for the wear, the Stepford Cuckoos discovered what happened. And for the past year, the truth has been a guarded secret to be finally let out in Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 which follows Bell’s journey as her powers take her to the past and future for a startling reveal.
Starting with an encounter with Jonathan Raven, Earth-616’s version of Killraven, Bell almost takes a laser beam to the face before her powers save her by teleporting her to the Wild West where she meets the Rawhide Kid. The Kid, one year removed from meeting the Avengers, scares Bell into porting again, and she’s taken by the X-Men of year 2099 to the Sorcerer Supreme.
Inside the cover in the credits, you’ll see something that only recently started happening. At the bottom where the creator credits once only mentioned Stan Lee, a new name has been rightfully added. Though we don’t know the full details of the settlement between the Kirby family and Marvel, one thing we know is that Jack Kirby is finally getting creator credit.
That is awesome on so many levels.
The other thing — Chris Bachalo’s name is on the cover, but the art this issue belongs to Kris Anka.
And third — yes, Hank McCoy, Cyclops is right.
Scott Summers’ tried and not-so-true friend finally gets it, and for once, he doesn’t know what to do. It’s a bittersweet moment that’s filled to the brim with history between two characters, one named after a one-eyed mythological figure and the other whose callsign only described his physical capabilities. More on this later.