I’m honestly shocked by how much I liked “All-New X-Men” #2. I probably shouldn’t be shocked since I tend to like Brian Michael Bendis’ writing and Stuart Immonen is easily one of my favorite artists working in comics. However, I found the first issue of this new series to be a bit mediocre. There’s just so much to enjoy in issue #2 as a long-time X-Men fan, it’s almost impossible to not page through the book chuckling joyfully.
In this issue the “little” X-Men (as Wolverine calls them) have been jaunted into the future (our present) by Beast in a last ditch attempt to change recent history. It’s unclear how this is supposed to work other than by essentially destroying the space-time continuum by giving the X-Men of the past critical information about the future. I honestly don’t know if the concept holds together upon closer examination, but it’s so fun I find myself not really caring.
Brian Bendis is a funny writer and he has a great handle on the “little X-Men,” especially their relationships with one another and as a contrast between who they have become as characters, friends, enemies, lovers and more in the future (er, present). Seeing them transported to the present has a high enjoyment factor, even beyond the “fish out of water” aspect, because you also have the secondary layer of their relationships with their future selves. It really all comes back to the chemistry that Bendis has found for these characters — it’s a remarkably innocent, undamaged, naÃ¯ve and optimistic mix that’s just good reading.
There are some minor things that don’t work so well — like how easily young Jean seems to accept and even joke about the fact that she’s dead in the future. The panels in which the “little X-Men” learn (via television) what Cyclops has been up to lacks in the punch it deserves — especially when it comes to young Scott’s reaction. It’s one thing for Beast to tell you you’re a mass murderer, but it’s a whole other thing to actually witness it. However, these are small complaints; on the whole the issue is beautiful and funny, heartfelt and intriguing.
Immonen’s art (and it should be said, the entire art team) is a dream. If only more mainstream superhero comics could look this good. There’s simply nothing to complain about here. Immonen’s storytelling and pacing are exceptional; he handles the vast number of characters with ease, including clear definitions between old and new X-Men. As always with an Immonen book, the character work is fantastic and he embraces both the humorous elements and heartfelt ones with the same passion and skill. Immonen is an artist gifted with the epic and the personal, as well as their best contrasts. This issue is full of beautiful double page spreads (in fairness, not so great for digital reading) but can also hit those emotional moments just right. A panel between Beast and a young Jean Grey, combined with Bendis’ dialogue is heartbreaking.
Time will tell if this idea has the legs to be interesting long term, I have to believe with a launch and book this big they’ve really thought it out, regardless, as a standalone comic, this is a great issue.