Today’s All New X-Men kicks off the crossover with one of Brian Michael Bendis’s other titles, Guardians of the Galaxy. It also marks the return of Stuart Immonen to art duties. The last story arc, while decent, felt like little more than filler between crossovers. So was this one any better?
This issue kicks off with a brilliant 3-panel page. X-23’s panel is fairly standard, with her practicing against danger room simulations. Iceman is being himself in the Canadian wilderness, showcasing the beautiful snowy landscape. But Beast’s panel is pure genius. He’s working on a chalkboard, trying to figure out X-Men continuity. It both highlights how complicated X-Men history is while perfectly matching his science obsessed personality. It highlights how good an artist Immonen is. The rest of the issue is strong as well, giving the action a sense of scope and the characters that extra emotional depth.
The writing in this issue is also solid. The conversation between Jean Grey and Cyclops in the cafeteria is a particular highlight. It plays with Jean’s telepathy while delving into how messed up her emotions are. Their knowledge of the future is clearly damaging the potential for any relationship between them, with or without X-23 in the picture. Even so, Cyclops shows genuine concern as a friend. Angel is awkwardly trapped between them, giving the scene a bit of much needed comic relief. It’s clear that Bendis can write teenagers very well, although X-23 still talks a bit too much like a typical teenager.
The following action scene is also good. All seven of the X-Men have an equal part to play in the insanity. Each of them show off their powers and skills, even against the aliens who are completely prepared for them. Iceman has what is probably his first moment of glory in this series, giving hope that Bendis can actually make him interesting. It feels a bit off when Kitty Pryde is confused about what’s going on. Sure, it’s fine that she wouldn’t know how the Shi’ar would know of Jean Grey’s presence, but she should otherwise have figured out who they were after. This isn’t the first time the Shi’ar have come after a phoenix host lately, and Kitty was introduced during the Dark Phoenix Saga. It’s worth noting that the Guardians don’t show up until the last page, although that doesn’t hurt this book.
While not perfect, this was a great start to the Trial of Jean Grey crossover. The writing is solid, the action scene was exciting and the art was very good. It also seems as though this story will wisely skip the obligatory hero vs. hero fight that too many crossovers have. If you haven’t yet tried All New X-Men, this is a good place to start.