Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen’s “All-New X-Men” #29 still has some surprises up its sleeve but the storyline is wearing a little thin and it increasingly feels like it has no exit strategy. Thanks to Bendis and Immonen’s talent and vast experience, they are still able to deliver a solid comic — but given what they’re capable of, this issue feels like a bit of a stumble.
Though Bendis has written some interesting and enjoyable plot with the Future Brotherhood team, the story is starting to feel a bit like the snake that eats itself. Time travel is always tricky and the title has started to feel like it’s looping back on itself. Perhaps more worrisome is that it’s gotten to a point that Bendis had better have an ace up his sleeve to get out of this storyline in a satisfying manner — because if he just walks away, it’s going to feel like a cop out. He’s certainly delivered a few surprises — even in this issue — like the fact that the Brotherhood have been puppets of “Baby Xavier,” but the repetitive downsides are starting to outweigh those surprises. Bendis still finds a few moments for both heart and humor in this issue and they are a welcome relief from the fighting.
Immonen’s art with inks by Wade Von Grawbadger is as gorgeous as ever, with strong layouts overall and a wonderful consistency when it comes to characters, though the sheer number continues to be a bit overwhelming as a reader. Marte Gracia with an assist Jason Keith deliver an issue absolutely saturated in color. They don’t really have a choice, as there are so many superpowers with color signatures on display that the book is just bathed in them. It’s beautiful work, but to be honest, the eye is just begging for a rest by the end of the book.
Unfortunately, there are also a few key scenes that lack clarity in both writing and art, especially in the action scenes where motivations and plot points are unclear. It’s not like Immonen to miss visual opportunities, but perhaps a weak script and the strain of drawing such a large number of characters for so many issues is finally taking its toll. This issue features a plot point in which all the X-Men must fight each other at the command of Baby Xavier, and while it’s a well-worn trope, it should at least be fun. But the whole thing is only two pages long, which amounts to almost nothing before the plot point is undone. More importantly there’s no in-story reason for why the plot point is undone. It just conveniently goes away nearly as quickly as it began. Similarly, the Xorn reveal, which should have real impact comes off as slightly confusing rather than powerful.
Overall, though “All-New X-Men” #29 has a few nice moments, it’s uneven and not as strong as previous issues. The storyline feels like it’s dragging out. Although it has an ending, when a comic dips its toes into time travel, there needs to be something more definitive than what’s contained in this issue.