SPOILER WARNING: The following article includes major spoilers for "All-New X-Men" #19, by Dennis Hopeless and Paco Diaz, on sale now.
The times, they are a-changing in the Marvel Universe. And as ResurrXion arrives with the release of "X-Men Prime" this week, another chapter comes to a close in the final issue of "All-New X-Men." Of course, this being a major Marvel Comics title, the issue goes out with more of a bang than a whimper (the last page dance part aside, but we'll get to that later.)
This Is Not Your Father's X-Men
One of the major aspects of "All-New X-Men" was that, well, it really wasn't an all-new team. The stars of the book consisted of the original, time-displaced teenage versions of Cyclops, Angel, Iceman and Beast, aka the same kids Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced all the way back in 1963. (Jean Grey's been finding her place in "Extraordinary X-Men" for the most part, though she returns just in time for the final issue's major revelation -- more on that in a bit!) Since being yanked from their era -- roughly a year or so after Professor X first began training them -- to the modern age, the team has been adapting to new technology, different social mores and, of course, the legacies, both good and bad, left by their older versions.
They were joined on their exploration of modern American life by newer mutants Idie Okonkwo, aka Oya, and Evan Sabahnur, aka Genesis. The former is a sheltered, somewhat naive girl with strong religious beliefs she's fought to maintain as she's learned the lessons of life as a mutant, a people she was raised to hate and distrust. The latter is the clone of the reincarnated body of Apocalypse, one of the X-Men's greatest enemies. Evan, like Idie, is struggling to find his place in the world as he fights expectations of what he may or may not grow up to become.
During the course of "All-New X-Men," the young heroes all learned more about themselves, each other, and the world around them. Idie has figured out how to follow her beliefs without condemning others, Evan has developed into his own person despite living in the shadow of one of the most dangerous mutants in history, and the original team has grown accustomed to living with the trappings, both good and bad, of the modern age.
Of course, now they have no choice but to fit in, as the issue has revealed that they have no past to return to.
You Can't Go Home Again
One of the long-standing plotlines since the teen team was first yanked from their simpler past to the complicated present was how and when they would eventually be returned to their proper place in the timeline. Of course, it's been years since they first appeared in late 2012's "All-New X-Men" #1. Many fans expected their stay to be a brief one, but when Brian Michael Bendis wrapped his run on the X-titles, the teens were not returned to the moment they left (roughly around issue #8 of the original "X-Men" run, published in 1964).
Instead, the team split up and ingrained themselves deeply into the modern Marvel Universe. Cyclops went into deep space with his father, the Starjammer known as Corsair; Angel acquired new, cosmic-powered wings (really!) and developed a relationship with X-23, aka the new Wolverine (another member of the team); Iceman came out as gay, leading to even more confusion for his older, at that point still-closeted self; and Jean Grey struck up a mentor/teacher relationship with Emma Frost, her older self's biggest rival, and expanded her powers. In short, these X-Men have been irrevocably changed by their time in the present.
Only Beast has seemed intent on returning to their original time period. Recent issues of "All-New X-Men" have seen him go so far as to take a crash course in magic in an attempt to get home. While Cyclops continues to harbor some hope of getting back to where he feels he belongs, the other three X-Men are more than happy to continue where they are.
Which brings us to "All-New X-Men" #19.
In the issue, Beast reveals to his teammates, including the newly returned Jean Grey that, finally, he's devised a way for them to return home. Cyclops is overjoyed, and the rest of the team follows along, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Beast uses his new magical talents (which include him transforming into a demonic form), opens a portal to the past, and the team takes the jump.
When they arrive, Cyclops is so thrilled to see everything as they left it (including the Yoo-Hoo in the fridge at The Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters), he won't let Beast explain that things are not as perfect as they seem. Thus, when they head out to face Unus the Untouchable in a fight they originally had in "X-Men" #8, it's a bit of a surprise to see themselves, dressed in their original costumes, racing into battle.
So... What Does This All Mean?
In short: the Original Five are here to stay.
Whether its due to the teen X-Men coming from an alternate timeline that no longer exists, the malicious machinations of a powerful entity, another aspect of the "Secret Wars" reality overwrite, or the timeline healing itself in order to prevent the end of all reality, the young Jean, Scott, Bobby, Warren and Hank aren't going anywhere.
While we should probably expect to see the ramifications of their new reality settle in in the months ahead, for now, the X-Men are looking forward. Not only does that mean they'll continue to forge on as a team in "X-Men Blue," but the issue makes it clear that this time, the Jean Grey/Scott Summers love affair is a thing of the past. This is illustrated clearly and in no uncertain terms when, caught up in the moment, Scott kisses Jean. The reaction from both of them, that it just doesn't feel right because "we both know where that path leads" is a solid indicator that the couple's simmering sexual tension will not be boiling under the surface of Cullen Bunn and Jorge Molina's new series.
Perhaps the final word on this being a truly new era, however, comes in the final two pages. Unlike sister title, "Extraordinary X-Men," which brought its run to a conclusion several weeks back with the X-Men's traditional game of baseball, Dennis Hopeless and Paco Diaz bring "All-New" to a close with something else. After teasing a game, the team opts instead to celebrate their new future with an "impromptu X-Men dance party" at the behest of Evan. And while the dance party outro doesn't quite work (it's difficult to effectively depict spandex-clad superheroes dancing in a motel parking lot), it's certainly effective in illustrating that this band of mutants is one that's setting out on their own adventure rather than re-living the stories their older counterparts have already told.