In Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s “All-New X-Men” #7, Mystique comes after a vulnerable Scott Summers with honey instead of vinegar. It’s a smart approach that appears to spell success for her mission to throw everything for the X-Men into further chaos (and who even thought that was possible) so that she can pursue her own nefarious plans unchecked.
This is the first issue of Bendis’ surprisingly impressive new series that doesn’t quite sing. Maybe it’s just that less than usual seemed to happen, or that what did happen is part of a much longer game that will pay off down the line, but I was left feeling underwhelmed on the whole. Similarly, while Bendis’ take on the X-Men, especially the young ones, has felt solid in previous issues, some of the dramatic beats in “All-New X-Men” #7 didn’t quite work. The idea behind the tender moment for young Scott and Jean Grey — him retrieving a copy of their future/past wedding invitation and giving it to her — is a good one, but it didn’t land emotionally. Perhaps it had less potency because it felt rushed, or it’s been diluted by what we know Jean has already seen and experienced via Beast’s memories. Regardless, it’s a moment I wanted to really feel, but didn’t. There is some fun to be had with young Iceman and Kitty Pryde (especially given what’s happening over in “Wolverine & The X-Men”), but on the whole the issue just felt a bit thin, like the necessary filler for something bigger and better down the line.
David Marquez delivers a lovely issue again. As a fill-in for Stuart Immonen, he’s a great choice, but the art is not quite as solid as his work in issue #6. Some characters (Wolverine and Mystique particularly) look rather stiff and awkward, particularly when contrasted with Scott and some of the “normal folks” who all feel more natural. Marquez really does shine when it comes to rendering a younger Scott Summers though, who’s baby faced and sullen. That softer (literally) Scott visual really helps readers connect to the differences between past and present-day Scott Summers, and how hard and confusing all of this must be on a kid, even one as resilient as young Cyclops.
There is a bizarre storytelling choice where Marques or Bendis (or both?) opt not to show Mystique actually shifting shape. In one panel she looks like herself and then all of a sudden, she’s someone else. It should be easy enough to tell what’s going on, but it was surprisingly confusing from a storytelling standpoint. That may be a deliberate choice on the creators part (perhaps we’re supposed to have an “Oh My God!” moment thinking that present-day Scott Summers has actually showed up), but it doesn’t really work and instead just had me re-reading the page to make sure I didn’t miss something.
All in all, Bendis’ “All-New X-Men” has been a pleasant surprise. This issue is perhaps the weakest of the bunch thus far, but it’s still a solid comic book, and the potential, as Bendis keeps showing readers, remains marvelous.