A good superhero comic balances both action and character development, and “All-New X-Men” #5 attempts to do just that. Dennis Hopeless, Mark Bagley and Andrew Hennessy use an attack by the Blob as the launching point for a lot of character work. However, even with the best of intentions, “All-New X-Men” #5 doesn’t quite land the mark.
The biggest problem with “All-New X-Men” #5 is that everything’s a little too earnest and a little too blatant. Idie going into Notre Dame and yelling at the statuary about religion lacks any subtlety and feels over the top; this isn’t something people do in real life do, and the scene exists solely to tell Idie’s feelings rather than simply show them. Unfortunately, that’s more-or-less what happens from start to finish in this book, as characters exposit their feelings to one another (or inanimate objects).
While there’s no finesse in this sort of storytelling, Hopeless’ ideas for the characters are good. Take, for example, the three-page sequence involving Bobby and Evan as they talk about Bobby’s fear of a romantic overture and Evan’s origin as a clone of Apocalypse. Both of them have a strong idea at their core, especially as Bobby reflects on the situation that the adult version of himself ended up in. But again, it’s almost all telling and very little showing. That’s frustrating, because — with a more careful touch — all of this could have been revealed without being quite so blatant. The Blob himself feels almost superfluous to the comic itself; he’s there to interrupt some characters and to bring Warren’s concerns about Laura to the foreground, but — aside from wanting to be left — alone there’s a surprising lack of motivation here for him; this could have just as easily been a natural disaster that the team was hurling themselves towards and the end result still would have been the same. Again, if you look at “All-New X-Men” #5 strictly from a plotting standpoint, the basic ideas here are solid; it’s just not quite there on the actual storytelling.
Bagley and Hennessy’s art is unsurprising and consistent. While it feels a little odd for the kids to be wandering around Paris in their spandex, it’s the only real head-scratching moment on their end. Angel’s wings look wonderfully dramatic here, and I also like how the Blob towers over Angel; it makes an often-laughable villain feel like a real menace. All of the characters look good here, with the fight scene near Arc de Triomphe full of energy and entertainment. When we get to the final panel of the book, the sadness in Warren’s eye is unmistakable and brings that part of Hopeless’ script home.
“All-New X-Men” #5 has good intentions but an execution that never quite comes together. The basic plotting sounds good, but — for the moment — it’s a bit clumsy and brash in the actual writing. It looks good, though, and hopefully future installments will take their time a bit more and bring something a bit more refined.