Not counting this month’s All New X-Men 25 anniversary special, the last few issues of this series have been kind of crazy. After a brief encounter with the Purifiers, the original X-Men had an adventure in space, Jean Grey was traumatized by learning about her brutal connection to the Phoenix Force and Cyclops met his father. With Cyclops now travelling in space, he leaves a gap in the All New X-Men. This issue takes its much needed time to deal with all the drama.
The first half of this comic is the first real conversation between teenaged Jean Grey and older Cyclops. It’s a very well-written conversation that deals with Jean’s trauma, their past relationship and Cyclops’s hindsight. There’s a lot going on between them in 8 pages, and it’s clear Brian Michal Bendis understands and cares for these characters. Of course, Adult Cyclops being alone with Jean doesn’t exactly make Kitty Pryde happy.
Meanwhile, Kitty and Jean aren’t the only ones upset about Cyclops leaving. X-23 tries to run away, only to be found by Angel as he takes a morning flight. Her dialogue is written better here than her first few ANXM issues, with fewer slang terms and shorter sentences. Her encounter with the bear is also perfect. The last few pages are quite eventful, ending the issue with a member of the team being gravely injured and the return of the future Brotherhood team.
Stuart Immonen’s art is fantastic as usual. During the conversation between Jean and Scott, there’s a great variety of facial expressions. Even with Cyclops’s glasses, you can visually tell he’s both concerned and deep in thought. Jean stays in cradle position through most of their talk, which is fitting for someone who just found out their other self wiped out the broccoli head planet. Outside the base, there’s tons of background detail with the snow-covered trees and the mountains in the distance. What’s odd is that there are sometimes footprints in the snow, and sometimes there aren’t. While a minor flaw, it’s still worth mentioning. Also, X-23’s eyes are the wrong colour again, but at least blue is closer to green than the brown eyes she used to always get. The real art highlights are the page with Beast trying to figure out X-Men continuity and the opening spread of Jean’s dark phoenix nightmare.
This was a great issue. Bendis isn’t always the greatest writer, but if there’s one thing he excels at, it’s teenage drama. That’s mostly what this issue is about. Save for Battle of the Atom (which was a serviceable but not amazing event) and the short Purifiers storyline (which was good but would have benefited from an extra issue or two), this series has been consistently among the better X-Men titles since its beginning. If you’re an X-Men fan who hasn’t tried All New X-Men out yet, this is a good issue to start with.