Wow, what a cliffhanger this issue ended on. And yes, this is one that will have to be discussed to review this issue properly. This is the second/third issue in the Trial of Jean Grey crossover with Guardians of the Galaxy (because the previous issues of each series could both be described as the first issue). Since Bendis’s X-Men work is generally very good so far and Guardians of the Galaxy is closer to mediocre, how is this one?
This issue is fairly solid. Unlike Bendis’s usual slow burn in All New X-Men, this issue handles the introduction fairly quickly. It wastes little time with redundant exposition, and most of the young X-Men’s reactions to the Guardians are spread throughout their scenes. As the bulk of the issue is an action scene, there isn’t much character focus beyond the occasional throwaway line. The banter is often amusing, and one line gives me hope that we’ll see X-23 and Gamora fighting alongside each other at some point – that would be amazing.
Most of this issue’s character drama focuses squarely on Jean Grey as she slowly figures out what’s going on. The way her sense of panic is written is the strongest part of this issue. As is common for Gladiator’s lack of diplomacy skills, he lays out his accusations and doesn’t discuss anything before throwing Jean into isolation. There’s no wonder she’s emotional through all of this.
Spoiler – The cliffhanger seems to have upset a few people online, although I don’t understand why. At the end of the comic, Christopher Summers shows up whit his crew. This is quite the dramatic moment for Cyclops, who thinks his father was dead. In fact, Christopher was killed during the Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire. Peter Quill’s first reaction is “I thought you were dead,” so at least Bendis acknowledges this. However there isn’t an explanation for his reappearance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t time to explain this in the Trial of Jean Grey. I’m sure it’ll happen eventually, in fact it’ll probably come in the Greg Rucka Cyclops mini-series that was announced today – end spoiler.
As usual for Stuart Immonen, the art is brilliant. There are a lot of group shots, and they’re all complete with detailed uniforms, backgrounds and lighting effects. The group shots with the X-Men and the Guardians show each person hanging around in their own way. Iceman is relaxing, Gamora is standing with her weapons ready, Groot is slouching to avoid banging his head and X-23 is staying back, observing everything. Even without dialogue, it shows an acknowledgement of each character’s personality. Facial expressions are also very well done, especially with Jean Grey while she’s talking with the Shi’ar’s telepath.
As Xmenxpert said in his post today, Bendis is generally better at writing characters than at plots. While this crossover is more plot focused than character focused, it strikes a good balance between them so far. Throw in some intense action and solid art and you have a good comic. If the rest of the crossover remains fast paced and character focused, then we’re in for a treat. If you’ve been enjoying All New X-Men or Guardians of the Galaxy, this is an easy recommendation.