All New X-Men #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen
BMB has practically shaped the Marvel Universe for the past decade. What he did what it can be endlessly debated, but his hands have touched almost every property that has comes from the house of ideas. Curiously though, he has never written an ongoing X-book in his tenure with Marvel. This all changes here with the All New X-Men (and also Uncanny X-Men, which will debut in a few months). BMB has definitely faltered the past few years, but being given a new property/side of the universe has reinvigorated him. He used to be able to handle big casts, big concepts, and big action and this series is showing that he still can.
Continuing from the after effects of Avengers Vs X-Men, All New X-Men sets the stage for both Team Cyclops (militarize the youngin) and Team Wolverine (teach the youngin). Both sides still hold the same ideology of pre-AVX, but they seem to be ramped up a few notches. They can no longer co-exist and radical ideas must be used to try and find a common ground. That radical idea is to go back in time and pluck the original X-Men from the past and place them into our present time so that Cyclops can see what he has become.
At first I wasn't about the concept at all. I found it to be gimmicky and unnecessary After some thought, and strong positives comments on reddit, I came around to give this book a shot. X-Men lore is so heavy into time travel that this really is keeping with the tradition. The Marvel mutant universe might not be 100% age of apocalypse, but Cyclops and co. are certainly in a grim situation and getting worse. There is much here that can be explored and it can shape the X-Men for a long time.
But back to the actual 20 pages in front of me, and it was a damn good 20 pages of comics. This issue had a lot of things it needed to establish to keep everyone on board and I thought it did most of them well. The great thing about the mutants of Marvel is that every mutant has a unique power and the only thing holding them back is the writer's creativity. Even though minor character's introductions, I was glad to see some more mutant powers introduced that may or may not be seen again down the road. A lot of the fun of X-Men comics is seeing what they can come up in terms of mutant powers and the first few don't disapoint. The pacing of the comics was suberb. One moment, were inside of team meetings at wolvie camp, and then the next were on the front lines of a battle to reclaim whats theirs. It was a stark contrast that really worked well with the characters and how they were portrayed.
A few faults on writing side of things though, the first isn't the fault of the writer at all. This book is continuity heavy, very continuity heavy. If I wouldn't have read AVX, and most of Schism, I would have had a tough time understanding why so many parts were important and why the rest of the series set up will be so heavy. With the way this book is being promoted, it is generating interest from non comic book readers, and I don't think a non- monthly reader would be able to come in and enjoy this on the same level. It's a double edged sword because it's the continuity and past few years of reading that make this issue so fun, but if they leave all of the continuity out then it would come off as hokey and unimaginative but then it can be more accessible. I think once they bring "Past X-Men" up to speed that it will bring new readers into the fold more. I just hope they stick around for when that happens.
My other complain is that the dialogue is.....rough. While BMB's plot and pacing have taken a huge tic upwards with this issue, his dialogue is still on a gradual decline from his earlier days. With his style being emulated so often these days in comics, his flaws start to show and he needs to up his game dramatically. The lack of sarcastic comebacks was a positive sign, but then again we haven't seen Wolverine yet in this series.
The art of Immonen was good. I can't say that it blew me away or that I took an extra few seconds before turning the page to admire any of the panels, but it did what it needed to do. The action and splash pages were well detailed I really enjoyed his portrayal of Cyclops. After a second quick read, I saw a lot of emotion in the faces of the characters. With so many different emotions running through this book (the teenagers fear, Iceman's frustration and Cyclops's determination), Immonen very effectively showed each emotion and crammed a lot into the panels. I question a few of the costume redesigns. I hate to throw these out there but a few felt a little bit too "90's X-Treme" to me. The Past X-Men also didn't feel totally 60's. There were influence of 60's but I liked the ambiguous look of all of the teenagers. Considering the Marvel timeline changes every fiscal quarter, I think it was for the best.
The issue was a very strong issue 1 though, and I feel like there are going to be some very powerful moments in the series you do not want to miss. If you have been keeping up with the Mutant side of Marvel, then I definitely recommend this goes onto your pull list ASAP.