Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen & Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors by Marte Garcia
Letters by Cory Petit
Cover by Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, & Marte Garcia
$3.99 / 32 pages / Color
Published by Marvel Comics
I love original line-ups. Whether it’s in real life with things like bands, or in the fictional realm with superhero teams, I have great reverence for the first group of people to come together (or who are brought together) to do a thing.
With that in mind, the original five X-Men have always been my favorite line-up of X-Men.
(That’s not to say that every original superhero team line-up is my favorite, it just so happens that it falls that way with the X-Men.)
I’ve always been a peripheral X-Men fan. In my early teen years in the early 1990s I was, like jut about everybody else reading comic books at the time, an avid X-Men reader. I fell off those books along with Jim Lee and Chris Claremont and never really found my way fully back. I’d dip my toe in the water when people like Ed Brubaker came on board but I never really found my place back in the X-Men world until recently with Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and The X-Men. But before that, the recent X-Men book that I pointed to as my favorite to anyone goodly enough to ask was Jeff Parker’s X-Men: First Class, which retold the story of the original X-Men in a modern setting. (The same goes for Dennis Hopeless, Jamie McKelvie, and Mike Norton’s X-Men: Season One, which is basically the same premise.)
I tell you all this because when Marvel NOW! was first announced, I made a lot of volleyball rotation jokes because the only thing Marvel seemed to be doing was moving their writers one book to the right. Sure, they were all talented writers but it had the feeling of more of the same and the same had, with a few exceptions, pretty much gone stale. Then when the actual books started getting announced and we saw who was doing which books and what the premises were, I became more intrigued than I thought I ever would.
And that brings us to All-New X-Men #1.
Truth be told, I probably would have sampled All-New X-Men #1 on the strength of the creative team alone. The art team of Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger is one of the best in the business and Brian Michael Bendis still has the capacity to be one of my favorite writers in comic books. But then when they announced the premise of the book and we learned that, at least initially, the story would be about the original five X-Men coming from the past to see the horrors of the current state of Mutantkind? Well, there was no way I was going to miss that.
As it turns out, the most disappointing thing about the first issue of All-New X-Men #1 is that it’s not the second issue. What we have here is more of a prelude, a set-up, for what’s to come. I know what you’re saying, “Here we go again with another decompressed Bendis story!” but it’s not that at all. Compared to some of Bendis’ other work this first issue actually has a lot packed in and it moves at a brisk pace, it’s just that he has to lay a little ground work before we can get off and running with the story he wants to tell. In many ways, it’s a first issue similar to Rick Remender and John Cassaday’s excellent Uncanny Avengers #1. We are introduced to the primary players, what their relationships are with one another, and the central conflict. I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible but suffice it to say that Cyclops and his Brotherhood of Vaguely Evil Mutants is on one side, the staff of the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning is on the other, and the newly discovered mutants of the world are caught in the middle. Enter: the original X-Men. I’m not going to tell you how or why they show up but I will say that the scene where they encounter the first older version of themselves (right) was fantastic and everything that I wanted from this story.
It goes without saying that this book is gorgeous. When Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen first became a team on Ultimate Spider-Man it really was the birth of a creative match made in heaven. Bendis’ stories rely on quiet moments and character acting as much as they do big action and Immonen as supremely adept at portraying both. There’s an emotional weight to his work here that really does the script justice.
You can absolutely jump into this series not having read anything before. All of the information that you need to know to enjoy this story is found in the recap page and in the story itself. If you’re someone who has always wanted to try reading X-Men comics but have been intimidated by the history and the multiple series–first of all, don’t be–then this is the perfect place for you to jump on. And if you’re a long time fan of the X-Men I have a feeling that this is going to be chock full of the stuff that you love about the X-Men. (Unless you’re the kind of X-Men fan that has hated everything since Claremont/Byrne, and yet continues to read the books, in which case I can’t help you.)
While All-New X-Men #1 didn’t blow my doors off like I was hoping it would–it’s entirely possible that my expectations were too high–it’s a very solid start and I can’t wait for the story to really kick off in the second issue.
Story: 3.5 / Art: 5 / Overall: 4
(Out of 5 Stars)