It’s Kitty Pryde, X-23 and the O5 (or as some people are calling them now, the o6) against the Purifiers. William Stryker’s son has some sort of AIM-built implants that give him energy based superpowers, making him a potential threat. Throw in some teenager drama and you have a great comic. Well, that’s what you’d expect.
This issue starts off with a flashback, drawn by God Loves, Man Kills’ James Campbell. It’s a nice touch that helps tie these two stories together while giving Stryker Jr. an interesting backstory. The AIM connection also makes these new purifiers a more interesting threat. That said, there’s a bit too much focus on Stryker Jr. The flashback should have been enough, and the rest of the comic should have focused more on the X-Men. Either that or this storyline should have been a little longer.
The action scene, while quick, does a decent job at showcasing each characters’ skills and abilities. Well … Iceman doesn’t really do anything in the fight. Angel’s involvement with this fight is confusing as well. In the last issue, he was knocked out of the window. We never see him chained up as the others were, and suddenly we see him standing above several unconscious Purifiers. Again, this could have been expanded on with a slightly longer storyline. Also you’d think that the Purifiers would do a better job at restraining the X-Men after capturing them, but Stryker Jr. is a rookie.
There’s a little character development, mostly with Cyclops and X-23. Once Cyclops finds Laura on the floor, he shows a tender side you’d never see from his adult self. It really seems like he doesn’t want to become the man older Cyclops is. He’s becoming a much more balanced character. That’s not to say adult Cyclops is bad, but he can be rather stiff at times. X-23 responds with a hug, showing that she too has grown and learned to deal with her emotions better. While it may seem odd for her to hug someone she barely knows, she did hug Gambit at the end of her solo series. Now she’s hugging a boy her age who’s now shown genuine concern twice. Perhaps a relationship between them could work; Brian Michael Bendis is selling it so far.
The art is very good for the most part, but there are a few flaws. The old, dark building gives the issue an overall creepy vibe, and there’s a good use of shadows and light effects. Facial expressions are also very well drawn, with a wide variety of them. They also got X-23’s eye colour right, yay! There were a few panels where the colour choices made it a bit hard to figure out who you’re looking at though. In one panel the monitor glow made X-23’s hair appear red, making it easy to confuse her for Jean Grey. There’s also a weird panel where Stryker Jr. has one eye closed for no apparent reason.
This isn’t the greatest issue of All New X-Men, but it was enjoyable enough. It introduced a new leader of the Purifiers, gave us a bit of character development and tossed in a decent fight scene. I hope Bendis does more with the Purifiers in the future because they’re an interesting threat to the X-Men, but this story felt rushed. Even though this isn’t the best ANXM issue, it’s still an easy recommendation for X-men fans.