The Future Brotherhood has all but defeated Cyclops’s X-Men. Xavier Jr. is somehow controlling most of their telepaths, so does that make him an anti-telepath telepath? Raze gutted X-23 in the snow and infiltrated the X-Men using his shapeshifting abilities. And the last comic ended with Xavier Jr. pulling Jean Grey into the astral plane, where she’s never been before. The only people left standing are Cyclops and Emma Frost, both with their powers broken. How will they get out of this one?
This issue delves a lot into the Future Brotherhood’s creation. Old beast found himself growing increasingly insane over the guilt of his past sins, and all it needed was a little psychic push to turn him evil. Xavier and Raze already hated the X-men, as explained in the last issue. As for the others, well … it turns out that the son of Xavier loves to telepathically control people. Brian Michael Bendis’s efforts to make the Future Brotherhood more interesting are working for the most part, and he adequately explained why characters such as Molly and Grey/Xorn would join them. While these scenes are well-written, they aren’t as interesting as most of this series has been because the chosen characters still don’t compare to the original X-Men. That’s not necessarily Bendis’s fault when Jason Aaron vetoed his efforts during the Battle of the Atom crossover, according to Bendis’s Tumblr page at least.
The rest of the comic is a long battle sequence, intercut with the Brotherhood backstory. Much of the battle details the psychic warfare and how Xavier Jr’s efforts have rendered most of the X-Men useless. It seems like a hopeless situation, with Cyclops and Emma Frost running with a partially incapacitated Jean in their tow. The action is intense, and the cliffhanger ending (along with the unlettered preview for ANXM 29 released today) promises much excitement in the next issue.
The writing portion of the comic might be good, but the art by Stuart Immonen is simply brilliant. The opening panel with the increasingly insane old Beast trying to figure out X-Men continuity is full of detail, both in his chalkboard work and with the machinery moving pieces around. The character detail on Old Beast is even more impressive with all his fur moving naturally and his single horn. The environmental detail when X-23 fully recovers from her wounds is impressive. The astral plane has a ghost-like feel to it, helped with the white hue on everything. Even with the red alarm lights throughout the base, everyone is easily recognizable. Also, there’s a great range of facial expressions and each one fits their character and situation. I could go on, but the art is just brilliant.
This isn’t the greatest issue of All New X-Men, but it’s still a great read (I’d almost argue that issue 10, the one before Angel joins adult Cyclops’s team is among the best so far thanks to the epic troll ending). Still, the action is exciting, the Brotherhood is starting to become interesting and I’m totally pumped for the next issue. Seriously, why do we have to wait until July 9? I want to read it now. Bendis’s style of writing won’t be for everyone, but if you’re an X-men fan who hasn’t given All New X-Men a chance yet, you really should. And even if you won’t read this comic, at least flip through to look at Immonen’s spectacular art.