All-New X-Men #8

David Marquez continues to weave dazzling imagery from Brian Michael Bendis' words in the very Angel-centric "All-New X-Men" #8. While Stuart Immonen was the major draw for me to start checking out this Marvel NOW! comic, the recent issues drawn by David Marquez have made a strong case that he deserves accolades and appreciation as well.

Marquez's work might not be as versatile as Immonen's, but it is technically sound, energetic and significantly detailed. The artist delivers classic comic book art throughout the issue while drawing Angel and Angel against a Hydra squadron, Iceman and Kitty Pryde mocking an argument between Captain America and Beast, and Cyclops (the younger) standing up to Captain America to assure the Avenger that everything will be set right.

It is to Bendis' credit that this single issue has so much going on to keep the artist and the reader fully engaged and entertained. Bendis plays this series to his strengths: character development and interaction. Blending the original X-Men with the current Avengers and the staff of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning makes for plenty of drama and comedy. Bendis has fun playing the two Warren Worthingtons -- or the original Warren Worthington against not-quite Warren -- against one another as young Warren tries to discover what has/will happen to him. That's been a repeat theme throughout this series, but somehow Bendis hasn't driven it into the ground. Yet.

Bendis and Marquez are definitely on the same wavelength throughout "All-New X-Men" #8. As the Angels fight Hydra, there is a double-page spread anchored by near-mirror images of young and modern Angel. When Cap and Beast try to settle Avengers versus X-Men matters in a peaceable manner, Kitty Pryde and (current) Iceman are played up for visual comic relief, including the fingers drawn from the eyes in the international, informal sign for "I'm watching you." Bendis and Marquez are the foundation for this book, but Marte Gracia's coloring and pattern work is solid and complimentary to Marquez's visuals without overpowering or dwarfing the lines Marquez delivers. Cory Petit's letters add dimension and a soundtrack to this story, including panel frame sound effects of gunfire and alarm wails.

The notion of dipping into the past and bringing the original X-Men into their future sounded like a novelty comic book to me. I didn't expect the story to last very long or to be terribly interesting. I expected a scene or two that was exceptionally poignant or maybe a memorable line or two. More often than not, however, the balance of great art and energizing story present in "All-New X-Men" #8 has been the norm for this series. Bendis' work is more effective in larger chunks, but there's enough going on in every issue of this series to provide a solid dose of entertainment in every issue.

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