REVIEW: All-New X-Men #7

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Or – “There’d Be Less Rebuilding If They Didn’t Keep Tearing Characters Down…”

Having read the previous issues of All-New X-Men, I have found myself a little bit fascinated by the concept, and understanding why Marvel editorial wanted to do it in the first place.  But does understanding the appeal of the Macguffin make the whole conceit work?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

AllNewXMenCoverALL-NEW X-MEN #7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in All-New X-Men:  The five original X-Men (Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl) have been brought forward in time by The Beast’s older self, for reasons which remain somewhat unclear.  Having arrived in a world utterly unlike the one they know, the heroes have had rather varied responses.  Marvel Girl has found a new inner strength, The Beast has had to accept his own weaknesses, Angel has bonded with his future self, and Iceman has…  Well, he’s pretty much been Iceman.  As for Cyclops, finding out that you grew up to be a reviled mutant villain/lunatic can be a bit traumatic, and he has stolen Wolverine’s motorcycle and escaped into Salem Center in search of something that will make sense of it all…

ENTER THE BROTHERHOOD…

Comics books these days, and Marvel Comics in specific, often suffer from a problem that I’ve talked about at length on the Major Spoilers Podcast: Stories with a built-in expiration date.  The concept of this book (Hell, the very TITLE) is predicated on the theory that it’s about shocking reveals, and the creators have delivered so far.  Marvel Girl being cast into a leadership role is wonderful, and Cyclops being forced to deal with the fallout of decisions he hasn’t made yet has made for some good dramatic bits and pieces.  This issue continues that, with Scott Summers making his way into Manhattan to a particular bank, to open his safe deposit box.  His reasons for this are unclear, as are the reasons why the box contains a pair of his ruby-quartz glasses for eyebeam control.  Still, it makes for a nice moment as he puts on the shades, removing his visor for the first time in the future and sees what his older self has tucked away for safekeeping.  Aside from spare glasses and bundles of cash, there are a few snapshots (one of which seems pretty obviously to be a picture of Scott with his first wife Madelyne) and a mysterious looking envelope.  It’s a nice, quiet scene that works very well for the character of Cyclops, even working with his previous characterization as a meticulous planner.  Then, Wolverine arrives…

IT’S A GREAT-LOOKING BOOK.

I’m not a big fan of the new “stripes, belts, buckles and weird nubbly bits” version of Wolverine’s uniform, but I have to say it looks really good here.  Wolverine whips out his Avengers ID to deter the bank guards (who have suddenly been alerted to the presence of the “mutant terrorist” in their vaults), then drags his young charge out into the street… and then transforms back into Mystique.  So, where did she get an Avengers ID card?  Did she create it out of her body parts?  Is it psychic paper?  Again, questions of how or why things are happening get quickly swept under the rug in favor of drama and character interplay, which works as long as you don’t think too hard about it.  Bendis dialogue is as lovely as always, while Marquez keeps changing Mystique’s appearance as we go, with some interesting storytelling to fill in the patented Bendis talking-heads.  The real Wolverine shows up, we get some quick drill-sergeant moments with Kitty Pryde back at the mansion, and the issue ends with Scott handing Jean Grey the envelope he found in the deposit box: A copy of their wedding invitation.

BOTTOM LINE: IN-DEPTH CHARACTER WORK, BUT VIRTUALLY NOTHING HAPPENS…

So, we run up against the underlying problem of All-New X-Men:  When they run out of people to be shocked that they’ve come forward in time, then what?  The characters aren’t on a quest to get back home, and this issue shows their first attempts to bring themselves in line with current X-Men combat training programs, which implies some sort of long-term agenda, but I can’t for the life of me tell you what it is.  I like some of the concepts here, and the idea of being ostracized for something you haven’t done yet is pretty compelling, but we’re seven issues in and I just kind of want someone to DO something already.  All-New X-Men #7 continues with a compelling premise, but moves awfully slowly and has some troublesome plot moments that cloud the story’s success, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s not a bad book, but it seems like once we get past “kids from the past in the future,” there’s no clear direction or goal for these characters…

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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