Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 01.02.2013 – All-New X-Men #5

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958
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Avg Rating: 4.5
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 37.6%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen
Cover by Stuart Immonen

Size: 32 pages
Price: 3.99

Throughout all the launches and relaunches going back to October when Marvel NOW! started, the book I’ve been asked the most about is All-New X-Men. While the majority of the Marvel NOW! creative team swaps were interesting, it seems that everyone thinks I’m losing sleep over the change in the X-Men books. I suppose this makes sense, since my given status as “the” X-Men guy here at iFanboy. To be honest, I’ve been slightly evasive with my opinion of All-New X-Men. I’ve been generally positive for it, but I’ve been a bit hesitant, as it’s clear that Bendis is taking his usual slow approach in getting the new series and the new status quo set up.  That said, after I finished reading All-New X-Men #5, I had come to my conclusion on the series.

Count me in. I’m onboard 100 percent.  All it took was a little Jean Grey.

But in all seriousness, I was never too worried about All-New X-Men. Like him or not (and I do like him), Brian Michael Bendis has established himself as one of the greatest writers of our time. I knew there would be no way that he would enter into this, with so many eyes on him, without giving it his absolute best. It doesn’t hurt to have Stuart Immonen along for the ride, and for those of you who’ve heard my comments on the first few issues on our podcast, you know how much Immonen has meant to this book.  I’ve been a big Immonen fan for as long as I can remember, and this is easily some of the best work of his career. But more on that later.

For those who’ve avoided the media deluge from Marvel about the book, the basic premise is this: Beast goes back in time and fetches the original first five X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman and Beast) and brings them to the present. He does this in (a somewhat passive aggressive) attempt to remind Cyclops what their roots were, and maybe influence young Cyclops from making the same mistakes present day Cyclops has. He’s also brought himself back from the past to aid in dealing with is medical situation, as his mutation appears to be killing him.  And thus the stage is set.

In talking with Bendis on the various Marvel press conferences, he stressed the fact that since this title has been in the works for so long, he’s been able to research and work through the story to make it as good as he possibly could, and guess what? It definitely shows. Whether he realizes it or not, Bendis has tapped into the essence of what makes the X-Men compelling and it’s coming out in spades in the pages of All-New X-Men #5.

That essence isn’t necessarily just having the original, young and naive X-Men present, but it’s that combination of the elements that make the X-Men special. It’s a little bit of being young and not understanding what is happening as mutant powers present themselves and a little bit of the sense of community from going from being alone to finding a place to fit in and people to welcome you.  Bendis has been able to bring that sense to light in several areas. You have the kids from the past dealing with the present day world, but at the same time, you have the emergence of new mutants and the race between Cyclops and his crew and Wolverine and his crew to bring them to their respective schools. Giving us a glimpse of Cyclops in a quiet moment of recruitment of a new mutant in this issue is just the taste of it we need. It’s a new dynamic on an old idea, but an old idea that works and Bendis is making it work spectacularly.

Another aspect of this series that has me hooked is that I don’t get the sense of an “arc”. Sure these first 5 issues will probably be collected as the “first arc”, but it truly is feeling like a return to form of serialized comic books, with each issue building and leading on from the previous ones. This issue though finally gave me the push off the cliff that I was looking for in the form of a focus on a telepathic discussion between Jean Grey and Beast. The nuance and relationship between these two characters was pitch perfect in the dialogue by Bendis, picking up on the history from Beast’s side and that je ne sais quoi that is Jean Grey. But it all pales in the shadow of the performance of Stuart Immonen.

Artistically, as I stated above, I believe to this be some of Immonen’s best work of his career. I can’t even put my finger on exactly what’s different here from his previous work like New Avengers, but there’s a kinetic emotional resonance to his art with All-New X-Men that has me excited. I could be biased, since they are my favorite characters, but I think even a non-X-Men fan can appreciate the brilliance that Immonen is dropping on each page here. From subtle things in this issue, like the framing of the telepathic sequence, to the bombastic like the double page spread of Jean’s history when Beast reveals it to Young Jean. I lost myself for about 10 minutes as I drooled over these two pages, revisiting the history of one of the most important comic characters that I’ve ever read. I kinda didn’t want to turn the page. I kinda want a poster of that double page spread to put up on my bedroom wall. And you see, that’s exactly what makes All-New X-Men so great. It makes me feel like a kid again, discovering the X-Men for the first time.

The X-Men are important. Not just to me, but to comics in general. Say what you will about continuity and characters, but they’re up there with Spider-Man, The Avengers, Batman and Superman as part of the identity of comics. It’s easy to come in and throw around powers and Magneto and other cliche’s, we’ve seen writer after writer do that over the years. But it takes reverence and respect to do something special with the X-Men and after reading All-New X-Men #5, it’s clear that Bendis and Immonen are setting out to do just that. Something special. Count me in.

– Ron Richards
I miss the X-Factor costumes
ron@ifanboy.com

 

 

Comments

  1. Love this book

  2. This series is making me feel like a kid again. That’s all that I can think of when I read it. Immonen blows my mind with every page and the Jean/Beast dynamic is so sweet, in that you can really feel for how much she means to Beast. There’s so many little things in this issue that I loved. Great great comics.

  3. Great series and great review!!! Bendis spent too long on avengers and this change has been a welcome one with a influx of new ideas in the xmen world….immonen makes me proud to be a Canadian and especially one from canada

    • There are Canadians who aren’t from Canada? 😉
      Seriously though, I agree that Immonen is arguably the best Canadian artist working in comics

  4. Best part? The two page spread where Jean sees her story. Onslaught! Scottpocalypse! Her New X-Men kiss with Wolverine! Bendis hit a lot of the things that I loved from my reading history with the X-Men, and some of these were not exactly well-known plot points.

  5. I am one of those ones that gets a little pissy when Ron has the POW and he always chooses a Marvel book when UNDOUBTEDLY it should have been Batman. But a new year has befallen us the Mayan BS is behind us and I believe in Ron. Yes I am with Ron I love this book, but its so damn expensive. I have to wait till Comixology has those 99 cent deals.

  6. I LOVE THIS BOOK! You hit it right on the head Ron. This series makes you feel like a kid again. Thank you Bendis.

  7. Wow. That sure came out of left field….

  8. The problem with most of Bendis Avengers stories was that he tried to make them the X-Men.

    I can only read so many stories in which the Avengers are hated and feared. It’s not what most avengers stories should be. But it’s a central driving force of the x-men, along with teen angst and all the drama of choosing the right alegiencies and life path.

    Bendis is a perfect fit for the x-men. Hell, he probably should have been on an x-title (And Ultimate Spidey, obviously!) all along.

  9. Spectacular issue. Definitely a “Oh, THAT’s why Bendis is in charge” moment. Great, earnest review.

    However, you neglected to mention the most important event in the issue: THEY FIXED STUPID CAT-BEAST!

  10. While I do agree that Immonen’s art is amazing I am still not 100% sold on Bendis’s story. I am huge Cyclops fan and it seems like young Scott will be getting the short end of the stick here. You have Wolverine judging young Scott for things he hasn’t even done yet and you have Jean doing the same. I don’t want to read a comic where have two Cyclopes brooding. One is bad enough.

    • I could not agree more, Fumbles. Brooding Cyclops is sooo played out. It makes sense for contemporary Scott to be that way but original Scott shouldn’t or this whole wonderful thing becomes a heavy downer. I mean, I get that it is already so do we need to go there? Other than this, this is the first X-Men title I’ve wanted to pick up since Joss left. I would absolutely love it if the original X-Men obliterated their older counterparts and kind of zero houred them in a twist on ‘all new, all different’, i.e. the originals.

    • Yeah, but look at it from Wolverine’s perspective – it’s the baby Hitler question. If he kills this Scott, then current Scott doesn’t exist and all the problems he caused go away. Of course, then there’d be no Schism and no Jean Grey School. No Cable, so Apocalypse wins in the future. And Professor X might be alive as long as something else doesn’t kill him. Big decision.

    • while i agree that im kind of sick of brooding cyclops, if you go back and read some of those original uncanny issues, he was pretty moody back then too. come to think of it, he was the same after Jean died the first time, and when he was having marital problems with Maddy Pryor. I’d say brooding is written into Scott’s DNA

    • I dont think the xmen would be in as good a place as they are now if Cyclops was never around. Killing young Scott wouldn’t just remove Cyclops from history but it would alter the entire course of history.

    • BC1 I totally get what your saying, but I just feel like Wolverine not really in any position to judge anybody. Dude has killed more people then I can count. I would think that out of everyone in the X-men he would understand what it feels like to be overcome with power and rage like Scott was when he went all Dark Phoenix. Sure Scott killed the professor,but come on your not truly an X- man if you haven’t gone bad once or twice & died at least once. With all that being said I am going to stick with book for now and see how things progress.

  11. I also loved Jean’s two page splash and immediately wanted a poster version. At the very least they should have made it fall on the center/staples pages which I think were the immediately previous pages. Then we could’ve bought an extra copy and pulled it from the center and put it on the wall.

  12. Jason Aaron started the ball rolling, and this book seals the deal. I care about the X-Men again, in a way I haven’t since the cartoon was on the air. The Iceman on Iceman bits are hilarious. Jean in the Marvel Girl costume was GREAT! (Hank has good taste) The filligree around the telpathy panels. The double page spread with Jean collapsed at the end. Warren’s beat at the end. Bendis is back in Bendis-Prime mode. Immonen is doing career work. This series has been amazing, and I can’t wait for issue #6.

  13. Yeah. This issue really did it for me. Bendis really showed that he was going to stay true to the early essence of the original 5. And nothing says that more than Jean breaking Scotts heart and walking away in the last panel.

    Like alot of people Cyclops WAS my favorite character for years but saw him just become a guy in googles post Morrison. It’s nice to finally see him again in the young Scott.

  14. I appreciate the craft in this. But it is the contradiction that perhaps proves an IFanboy rule: “Don’t worry about continuity, with books from good creative teams at their peak just “jump in.”” I stopped reading the X books probably before 100. So very little in this book resonated with me, not having read the previous 4 of this title nor followed X history. The double page spread I could appreciate as a piece of art but it meant almost nothing since I know only the broadest outlines of the convoluted Jean Grey history. Often good books stand on their own–I’ve enjoyed the new Hawkeye series. But continuity is a part of the art of the comic book (and Sherlock Holmes and Robert E Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs and many important works in science fiction and mysteries) so not knowing the continuity does matter sometimes. Oh well, glad others are enjoying this book and there is more than enough great stuff for everyone.

  15. For the first time in years, if not decades, I am actually excited about The New X-Men, and Uncanny Avengers and that other Avengers book premiering this week. What an exciting time in comics. Thor is blowing the doors of the hinges too. While I sampled Hulk, and Captain America I will not continue with them. Cap… well I hate the boxy style of art, always have. Hulk, while interesting, I’m just not a fan. And sadly, nothing can come close to Hickman’s 3 years on Fantastic Four so I’ve dropped it for now. Still skeptical (but open minded) about Spider-man. And Hawkeye rules.

  16. Truly an awesome fucking series. I love the X-Men, and it feels great to see them showcased like this. New Beast is something else, though… I think I like him better than cat-beast.

  17. Great week of books, Batman Inc & Manhattan Projects were action packed and crazy, Hellboy in Hell & Fatale, dark and gorgeous. So hard to pick my PotW.

    I’m reading ANXM on a delay (friend’s copy) but i’ve been plesantly surprised by how good of a book it is.

  18. All New X-Men should have gotten this recognition sooner, at least since issue #2. But I’m glad Ron got to pick this, exactly when Jean came into the spotlight.

  19. “The heart & the soul of the X-Men “? Ron, I thought you said that was Kitty Pryde..

  20. Best Marvel Book (ok, tied with Fury MAX) in a long, long time. I’m thankful for this book, and thrilled that Bendis is bringing it. Purty pictures, too. Nice pic, RR!

  21. Between the HORRENDOUS Wolverine characterization of him actually wanting to off a kid, to the goofy new Beast look, to the annoying repetitive Bendis dialog tics, I really couldn’t stand this book. It’s very pretty, though. Very, VERY pretty.

    • Yeah. Wolvie wanting to kill Kid Cyclops didn’t exactly mesh with the kinder gentler man he’s become post-Aaron/Remender.

  22. love the Jean Grey two page spread (centerfold?!?!?)

    actually, really like how she’s been written this series so far. and at the end? when she tells Scott to leave her the hell alone? man!!!

  23. This book has been a complete surprise. I begrudgingly picked up the first issue thinking “I’m going to hate this because Bendis blah blah” and was completely blown away by it. I expected that Avengers/New Avengers were going to be the pair of titles that would define the relaunch for me, but instead it has been all the books I didn’t expect to like (ANXM, FF, Deadpool, X-Men Legacy, Avengers Arena) that are getting me so pumped up for Marvel this year. IMHO All New X-Men is the first time I’ve been excited to read X-Men in years. I can’t wait for Uncanny to drop so that we can get more of Cyke’s team.

  24. I’ve really liked this series a LOT… until this issue. After four nearly flawless issues, Bendis-speak is creeping into the dialogue again. Moreover, the characterizations are starting to seem off just a bit (or sometimes more than a bit), and the plot-points seem to happen for no reason (Wolvie wanting to kill children, Beast being saved and changing appearance “just ‘cuz” (off-panel, no less), and Jean hating young Cyke for no reason). All of this is very reminiscent of why I felt Bendis’s Avengers stuff was uneven at best.

    Even Immonen’s art in this issue looked like a definite downgrade from his otherwise stellar work.

    And I’m sorry to those of you who like X-history montages so much, but I’ve seen so many of them at this point that I can’t help but think “This is being used as a substitute for real weight or characterization.”

    I’m not saying I hated the issue. I’d still give it a 3. And I’m still optimistic about the series as a whole. But after four issues that really, really surprised me — four issues that really, really exceeded my expectations and made me excited about the X-Men again — this felt like a huge disappointment. C’mon, Bendis, please do not fall back into your old, bad, lazy writing habits!

  25. I have not been reading any X books for years and this book has got me reading an X-Man book again. This book is fucking awesome! Not sure about the frequency of issues which is a good and bad thing, since I am not made of money but do not have to wait a full month for the next issue.

  26. The Jean Grey stuff is great, but this was my pick because of Beast. Bendis finally did what I’ve been wanting for as long as I can remember and reverted Beast back to an ape-like mutant instead of a giant blue tiger. I love it.