All-New X-Men #4

The original X-Men have been brought into their future to confront Scott Summers in "All-New X-Men" #4 by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. This issue focuses a great deal on how the original X-Men came to be in the modern age, who did it and maybe -- just maybe -- some tidbits as to why they're in our present.

Bendis goes right for the most emotional beats in this issue, picking up where the last issue left off with explosive results. Given that the current Cyke is accompanied by Magneto, the original five's thoughts are filled with doubt, fear and anger. Bendis writes conflicted characters well and tries to insert plenty of humor around the confrontations. He furthers the search for new mutants and adds a wrinkle to the subplot of Beast's medical condition.

Functioning as a creative hive mind, Immonen, along with inker Wade Von Grawbadger and colorist Marte Gracia, produce art that is simply stunning. Fueled by explosions and both Cyclopses' optic blasts, "All-New X-Men" is a very red issue, fueling the anger and uncertainty and encapsulating it into imagery that needs little explanation to convey a message. Immonen is at the top of his game here, drawing seventeen characters (as well as considerable backgrounds, innocent bystanders and assorted technology) and he brings out the best in his visual collaborators. One page, included in the preview on CBR, serves as a stunning example of Immonen's ingenuity and ability as he delivers a scene through the juxtaposition of seven characters, albeit in vertical slices covering an entire page. That single image sums up the connections and the conflict present in this story, but also delivers exact accounting of the uneasiness these characters all face.

While I could lose countless hours looking at the fantastic art in "All-New X-Men" #4, Bendis doesn't let the story stay still for very long. He naturally plays to Immonen's considerable talent, with a wide range of expressions and settings, but takes Immonen's best and delivers a story that is filled with excitement, adventure and promise. While the premise and delivery are totally different, the original X-Men, reunited in a book driven by the search for new mutants has the energy and excitement fourteen-year-old me found in the early issues of "X-Factor" written by Bob Layton and drawn by Jackson Guice. An interesting blend of old and new, tribute and trial makes "All-New X-Men" one of my favorite books of the Marvel NOW! relaunch.

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