All-New X-Men #36 Review

All-New X-Men #36 Review

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Ultimate Dr. Doom’s energy blast sure has a lot of kick.

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.

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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.

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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.


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All-New X-Men #30 Review

All-New X-Men #30 Review

www.hypergeeky.comAll-New X-Men #30 takes a break from the norm to develop and work on some character-to-character issues.

Picking up at the swell of a whirlwind romance between Laura Kinney and Warren Worthington III after a night of clubbing and, well, clubbing (literally!), the two go through an impromptu DTR that challenges their notions of each other, especially for Kinney.

It’s hard for Laura to accept what’s going on now that she’s had time to think about it. Warren’s too pretty and too rich, while she’s been through too much.

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Even if it’s a beauty and the beast type of situation, the pairing does make sense in the end — opposites do attract, especially when they turn out to be commonalities. Laura’s ugly past puts her on one side of a spectrum where Worthington’s enviable wealth places him on the other. Both are attractive, yet in some ways unwanted, and they both know what it’s like to be a mutant.

Once Laura realizes her past is past, she wonders what’s going on in the rest of the world to which Warren, living in the moment, responds with the exact words Laura needs to hear.

Elsewhere in the world and back at the Xavier School, Emma Frost has begun training Jean Grey with an interesting first assignment — she wants Jean to hit her. With some of the students covertly witnessing the strange session, Emma and Jean begin to discuss the biggest conflict in both their lives: Scott Summers.

There’s some enmity here, and they’re both willing to press the issue to get what they want. To get out of training, Jean points out Emma’s conflict — that Jean and Scott’s relationship was mutual and exclusive.

That only prompts Emma to retaliate and go for Jean’s jealousy button.  It was Emma that Summers mentally cheated with during his marriage, and Frost projects explicit images of Scott. It’s the one when Summers says he chose Emma that makes Grey lash out, forcing the students to rush to Professor Kitty Pryde.

Pryde’s been busy building a long-distance relationship with Peter Quill who’s a billion miles away. The conversation between them is realistic, and there’s surefire chemistry between the two. Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t break each of the character’s personalities to force something onto them. The scene is a textbook example of how dialogue between two adults should be written — it’s full of charm, poignancy, and humor.

When Pryde follows the students to see what all the commotion is about, a psychic battle results in the scariest thing Illyana Rasputin has ever seen.

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Emma and Jean are now friends.

Bendis comes through with an issue that gives readers a true X-Men experience. By piercing through the outer veil and giving us a behind-the-scenes perspective, we get to the nitty and gritty to learn more about their personalities — without which, the individuals are X-Men in name only.

The pairings are deliberate and speak to Bendis keen planning and plotting. In each scene, we get interactions between polar opposites. The contrasts between Laura and Warren are easy to spot, and the most compelling story this chapter is between Jean and Emma, two rivals with a rich history of turmoil between them.

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For new readers, it’s easy to accept the premise as is and believe there’s bad blood between two women in love with the same man. But there’s an incredible amount of emotion and history that’s only hinted at.

Back in the ’90s when the X-Men first split up into Blue and Gold teams, it was Emma’s Hellfire Club that caused one of Jean’s physical deaths — Grey saved herself by possessing Emma with her consciousness. When Frost later came over to the X-Men’s side after Generation X, she began therapy sessions with a broken Cyclops which resulted in mental cheating.

When Grey died at the end of the New X-Men run, she got a glimpse of a very dark future. She reached back in time to influence Scott, telling him to move on and into Emma’s arms. The love triangle was no more until Beast decided to do some time-traveling of his own to bring the original X-Men to the present.

So now we have young Jean reeling and dealing with what the future holds, and her current incarnation in Marvel Comics does what no other version has been able to do: reconcile with her rival.

As the two most powerful psychics on the planet, the fact they’re friendly now only makes the cumulative outlaw X-Men squad a formidable force.

www.hypergeeky.comAnd while Professor X, knowing the potential for devastation to come, blocked out Jean’s powers until she was ready to handle them, it’s Frost who gets to bring out Jean’s best which could lead to several outcomes. As angry as Jean is now, what will happen when the Phoenix returns in full force to inhabit a younger, less mature, and more-powerful-for-her-age version of an Omega-level mutant?

It’s an issue that Pryde recognizes, and All-New X-Men #30 ends with the Jean Grey School X-Men making a surprise visit with news of Xavier’s last will and testament. As hated as Scott is for the things he did while being possessed, I wonder what Beast feels when he sees Jean.

Then, I begin to think of how this story possibly ends — with another sacrifice leading to redemption.

That’s the sort of thing that compels me to keep reading Bendis’ material. The past, when forgotten, tends to repeat itself, and X-Men stories have spiraled in and out of time away and onto themselves. What I most enjoyed about this issue are the discussions that perfectly reflect the inner minds of the characters speaking. They grow, feel love and hate, and challenge themselves and the readers. The X-Men are a microcosm of our society filled with viewpoints, differences of opinion, and those struggling to choose what’s right.

And without a great artist to capture the nuances of expressions, much of what we saw this issue could have been lost. And so it makes me grateful to see that if anyone had to take over art duties from Stuart Immonen, it’s Sara Pichelli.

Pichelli’s art style this issue is reminiscent of Immonen’s pencils and Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks. The heavy outlines are there as well as the clean and distinct facial expressions that tell their own share of the story. Pichelli’s Frost is perhaps one of the best I’ve seen — from the visuals alone we get a sense of how manipulative and seductive Emma can be.

www.hypergeeky.comAnd that’s one of the greatest strengths of All-New X-Men #30 — the brilliant display of visuals without need for words. The flashback of Laura and Warren’s first date is almost four pages of panels with no dialogue, and the pressure’s on for Pichelli. To her credit, the artwork is masterful in how it not only tells us how things went down, it also shows us how the characters are feeling. There’s a panel of Laura looking sublime during the melee, and it just captures the moment perfectly.

To bring it all into another level of cohesion, Marte Gracia’s colors adapt just enough to keep things similar yet distinct. Warren and Laura’s scene in the room has a romantic feel to it, and the shading on the faces creates not only more definition for expressions — it also creates mood through lighting.

All of these things put together makes up one awesome issue that doesn’t need a particular villain to create drama. The X-Men have proven, time and again, that they are their own worst enemies, and the numerous conflicts presented here are easy to relate to. It’s the deftness in the creator’s abilities that this issue comes to life.


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All-New X-Men #28

All-New X-Men #28

www.hypergeeky.comDuring 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.

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All-New X-Men #27 Review

All-New X-Men #27 Review

www.hypergeeky.comThe future has returned with an attack on the New Xavier School by the Brotherhood of Evil X-Men.

With Raze preoccupying the All-New X-Men in the cafeteria, Xorn takes out the Stepford Cuckoos by hijacking Mindee’s mind.

That leaves Emma Frost, Scott Summers, and the young Jean Grey to stand up to the mauraders. With one gigantic blast, Cyclops empties the tunnel of the invaders for a quick regroup.

While the battle itself is entertaining enough, the main purpose of All-New X-Men #27 is to give Xavier a backstory interspersed between the issue’s proceedings.

The first flashback takes place one year ago with his birth. Born to Moira MacTaggert — she’s later revealed to be Mystique — the young Xavier is quickly abandoned when MacTaggert recollects how Professor X was killed.

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All-New X-Men #23 Review

All-New X-Men #23 Review

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A few days ago, I imagined what I’d ask Brian Michael Bendis if I could get one question in for an interview.

“What is it about you that Marvel would put their X-Men franchise in your hands?”

Bendis is talented, obviously, and he’s shaping up to be the Chris Claremont of this generation. But that question wasn’t meant to get more information about what we already know — it’s what quality Bendis sees in himself.

What makes him the best man for this job, specifically? More than just work ethic or the ability to meet deadlines — what’s required of the man who would lead the X-Men back to its glory days as Marvel’s most dynamic and storied team?

In the way that Scott Snyder and Batman are tied together, Bendis is now the legal guardian of the X-Men, and after reading All-New X-Men #23, I feel one step closer to understanding why he’s the right wordsmith for the job.

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All-New X-Men #20 Review

All-New X-Men #20 Review

www.hypergeeky.comLaura Kinney — Wolverine’s genetic clone — wakes up in her birthplace, the new home of the classic X-Men who have joined forces with Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men team.

Waking up in Weapon X, the facility that created her, immediately puts X-23 into a defensive mode, and it doesn’t help that her senses tell her she’s with familiar but younger-looking faces.

Young Scott Summers takes the initiative to reach out to the startled Kinney, and his calm and cool demeanor keeps the volatile situation from getting further out of hand. Kinney would rather keep the details of her troubled past in the dark while taking her anger out on the Purifiers — the zealots the X-Men rescued Laura from last issue.

Returning to Florida for an attack on the Purifiers’ compound reveals the organization is led by William Stryker’s son. Just as the X-Men are about to claim another victory, Stryker unleashes a blast that leaves everyone in the room stunned.

The irony isn’t lost here — Stryker’s mission to rid the world of mutants possibly stems from the fact he himself is one. Papa Stryker will go down in history as one of the X-Men’s top villains, and for the classic X-Men who’ve yet to come face to face with him, their first battle with the Strykers happens here and now with the William’s progeny.

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That Brian Michael Bendis would create villains related to villains that would factor later/earlier into the X-Men’s story shows the field’s wide open for interesting conflicts. Bendis gets to play within a vast sandbox filled with history, characters, and plotlines weaving in time through twists and turns.

Add to that the awesomely ironic and budding romance between young Scott and Laura, a relationship that makes the already awkward situation between Summers and Jean Grey all the more complicated. It also adds a new perspective on Cyclops’ relationship with Wolverine, and the story has gained a new and interesting dimension that will hopefully be played up as the story progresses.

The revolving door of artists continues to turn with Brandon Peterson covering the second half of the book. Mahmud Asrar joins the creative team with an art style that’s closer to Stuart Immonen’s. Asrar’s doe-eyed characters are attractive and expressive, playing a huge part in getting the point and tone across for Kinney and Summers’ first interaction. Scott’s hug looks natural, effectively bringing back haunting adolescent memories, and Asrar gets the credit for getting it right.

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Peterson gets to draw the action-heavy second act, and though his young X-Men characters still look too old, the panels don’t lack for detail. Each panel is filled with cinematic compositions that really go above and beyond. Peterson took his time with the artwork, and it shows with the amount of work put forth in these pages.

Not to be outdone or ignored, Israel Silva and Marte Gracia’s colors look beautiful. Each page pops with color, and the shades add muscle tone along with facial highlights that add to the characters’ facial expressions. The concerted efforts between the members of the creative team form another solid book to the title.

Where the story goes from here remains to be seen, though the cover may provide the biggest hint of things to come. With X-23 joining the X-Men ranks, the X-Universe has added another great character to its ongoing story, and it’s an addition that adds intrigue to go along with that teenage drama.


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A Better Tomorrow — All-New X-Men #17 Review

A Better Tomorrow — All-New X-Men #17 Review
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Marvel

All-New X-Men #17 begins with an idea.

A few years into the future — a future in which the classic X-Men have not returned to their original time — Jean Grey persuades Disco Dazzler Alison Blair to run for President of the United States of America.

It’s not like Grey hasn’t ever put a thought into someone’s head before — and the last time she did so, it came from a more future Jean who gave Scott Summers her blessing so he could pursue a relationship with Emma Frost.

This idea, like her other, gains traction, and Blair gives her victory speech. The world rejoices as mutants and humans alike celebrate their unity.

And then, there’s fire.

Readers get to see the moment where things went so wrong for the presumed X-Men of the future who have traveled back in time to warn the others. To complicate matters even further, the X-Men of the future are … impostors? Or worse: Traitors?

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Marvel

After a slow-roast of a story the first few issues into the Battle of the Atom crossover, things have been set to flash-burn as Magik’s field trip to the future reveals plenty of surprises and plot twists.

In a world where Sentinels protect mutants, and Jubilee is the leader of the X-Men — the real X-Men — something has happened to make Henry McCoy and his associates turn. What it is, no one will say, but when another X-Men team comes to the present time, it looks like three generations of teams will meet for an epic standoff.

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Marvel

Brian Michael Bendis picks up the pace and turns it to 11 this issue. The assassination of the first mutant President and the subsequent chaos looks like it sets something into motion, but there’s more to it than that.

What looks like an attack by the forces of Limbo suggests Magik could be responsible for what’s happened, though there are other questions. If the classic X-Men never returned to the past, it’s assumed their present counterparts ceased to exist because the time-displaced versions grew old from their teenage selves into this very different future.

But why is older young Jean Grey angry at her younger self, besides the fact that her younger self’s decision to stay led to this version of the future? There must be more to it, and the next month’s worth of X-Men issues will hopefully bring more answers.

Stuart Immonen’s pencils are a sight to behold, and he is arguably Marvel’s best artist in their stable. There’s a polish to the art with an amount of detail and thought suggesting Immonen is invested in telling a great story through visuals. It’s not just the character designs — the character expressions and panel composition makes All-New X-Men a cinematic experience with emotion. Take a look at Beast’s angered grimace, and it’s plain to see when and why he turned rogue along with the other former X-Men members.

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Marte Gracia’s colors are beautiful, and the brighter colors showcase a future that’s optimistic. Gracia’s high-contrast colors along with Wade von Grawbadger’s inks give the art depth in shadows and a textured feel. Seeing the difference in Colossus’ sheen versus Beast’s fur, and there’s a craft to the art that’s present in the different dimensions of it.

That said, All-New X-Men #17 serving as chapter six of the Battle of the Atom storyline finishes the first act of the crossover. Next month, there will be six more issues. How grand will the finale be? Only a few can say, but as it rolls out to the general public, one can hope it snowballs into something epic.

So far, Bendis has gone counter, flipping the status quo on its head. The future, as bright as it is for many, has a few enemies in the form of a splinter X-Men group. The sides are many — the ones that want the classic X-Men to go back, those who want them to make up their own mind, and the different sets of X-Men in the future who know the outcome. By the looks of it, this X-Men vs. X-Men vs. X-Men story could easily wipe away the bad taste left by last year’s AvX.

And if this turns out worse? Well, there’s a few working at Marvel who know how this story goes, and it’s in their hands to make sure the present leads to a better future.

All-New X-Men #17 (2012)
Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils” Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: Cory Petit

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All-New X-Men #16 Review

All-New X-Men #16 Review

www.hypergeeky.comTry saying this all in one breath.

The future X-Men have come back through time to correct the current X-Men’s mistake of bringing the classic X-Men into the present in All-New X-Men #16, the second chapter of the Battle of the Atom crossover event.

Professor Charles Xavier’s grandson Xavier, Deadpool, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Beast, and a mysterious figure wearing Xorn’s mask introduce themselves as the future X-Men team of this current timeline. A healthy — and predictable — amount of doubt and suspicion add to the tension when a sudden loss of control by Wolverine sends the various teams into a ruckus.

In the aftermath, everyone left in the room realizes Jean Grey and Scott Summers have used the manufactured circumstances to escape the premises in the team’s Blackbird.

To go the opposite extreme and bring in an aged X-Men team with a membership made up of some surprise choices, Brian Michael Bendis connects the dots to create the basic and most tenable conflict: The original X-Men must go home. The X-Men of the future are well aware of the consequences, and for the sake of the world and team — hindsight is also 20/20 — the mutants of the future plead to the mutants of the past: Fix this.

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Intimate Revelation — All-New X-Men #7 Review

Intimate Revelation — All-New X-Men #7 Review
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Marvel

This issue focuses heavily on young Scott Summers and his current confusion. While I have enjoyed the last few issues of All-New X-Men. I’m curious as to when it will occur to writer, Brian Michael Bendis, that there are typically problems interacting with ones younger self as Hank, Bobby, Scott and Warren have just done. I really want to see how the timeline eventually gets screwed up and how they fix it or even if they’re totally able to. I believe strange things are coming for Scott Summers that may cause him to change into more villain than hero. Well, stranger things than getting possessed by a cosmic being. But hey, isn’t that like a Tuesday for the X-Men?

Brian Michael Bendis has done a good job so far of letting us see the basic ins and outs of dealing with being more-or-less temporally marooned. From what I’ve seen in the last few months, there’s going to be a pretty sizable story here and this is just the beginning. It takes an impressive writer to map out something so long-running as it appears this is going to be. The pacing is good, with plenty of classic tropes and even more new and thought-provoking material. The dialogue is good, but not the best it’s ever been. The ending of the issue is nearly perfect, but certain parts leading up too it run either a little short or slightly longer than they should.

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Marvel
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Marvel

The art is still great and really a big part of what keeps me reading this book. That is due in no small part to the pencils from Stuart Immonen. Every piece of background in this issue looks more realistic than most comics I read. The attention to detail is what really grabs me when I see Immonen’s artwork. Then there’s Wade von Grawbadger’s inks which are, again, quite detailed. They seem to be a perfect match. As I’ve mentioned before, the shadowing is impressive. The real eye-catcher is the colors from Marte Gracia. Thankfully, the colors aren’t quite as muted this time, which works for the issue.  It’s a beautiful book and these artists should be quite proud of that work.

The issue earns a 4/5. While the story wasn’t as good as it could have been, it was a great attempt and will surely lead us on to more issues in a bigger and better collected story. Again, the art is what carried it, but don’t lose hope. There will be more excellent writing around the corner.

All-New X-Men #7 (2012)
Marvel
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: Cory Petit

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All-New X-Men #6 Review

All-New X-Men #6 Review

www.hypergeeky.comThe All-New X-Men is a great title so far.

With everything going on and the transition for the original X-Men into our time, there have been some interesting things in this book.

About half of the issue focuses on Jean and her psychic powers coming to fruition much faster than she hoped they would. Then, there are the meetings with other X-Men in the current timeline.

Of course, there’s also the inevitable clash between Cyclops and Wolverine. There’s plenty of good story mixed with action and just a wonderful comic experience. This seems to be the comic that will be able to introduce new readers to old and new characters in one swoop.

This is one of a few issues whose cover shows a little something extra about the issue. The cover, like the story inside shows a more intimate look at the characters.

Brian Michael Bendis is an interesting writer, in that he clings to his own notions and what he, as a fan, would love to see. His characters are often quite relateable and speak more freely than in other titles. There’s less expository dialogue and more natural rhythm in the characters’ voices.

The best part of the script is the pacing here and that it’s almost evenly divided between the core group. The one real down side to the writing was that I didn’t really see much of Beast or the younger Hank McCoy.

While not quite as spectacular as the previous issue in terms of story and dialogue, there’s plenty of cool scenes in here.

Stuart Immonen shows off his artistic chops in a glorious collection of panels within even better whole pages. Blending the old style with the new and more modern look of the costumes, he’s shown us something really cool.

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Wade von Grawbadger’s inks are also pretty good and does well with the shadows and extra bits of detail. More detail is captured in von Grawbadger’s inks on a single page than most other inkers are able to capture in a full comic.

There’s also a lot to be said for Marte Gracia’s colors and the extra shadows therein. The colors are slightly muted, especially on the costumes. It’s a nice break from the vivid colors that show off their powers. This is especially true for Jean and Scott’s abilities.

The team-up on the art is pretty good and a great reason to get this book, even if you’re not a Bendis fan.

This issue gets a 4/5 just because I don’t believe it will be as well remembered as the last issue. I can only hope the next issue will be this good or better. It’s still a good series, but what carries this issue is really the artwork.


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