The biggest lesson learned in this issue is that Xavier Jr. is evil. The new revelations about the Future Brotherhood make that perfectly clear. In today’s issue, Brian Michael Bendis concludes the All New X-Men’s struggle against Xavier Jr., old Beast, adult Molly from the runaways, Deadpool, Xorn and Ice Hulk.
All New X-Men 29 begins where the last one ended, with the majority of Cyclops’s X-Men being mind-controlled by Xavier Jr. He proves to be a master at taking over minds, even if they have their own telepathic abilities. Only Jean Grey is left standing against him, and of course X-23, who has returned to the X-Men base undetected by all but Jean. As a team, they manage to injure the Future Brotherhood’s puppet master and release everyone from his control.
After that, the rest of the fight turns into chaos when Xavier desperately tries to make the X-Men kill each other while X-23 fights her, um … relative Raze. I won’t even try to figure out what their exact relations are. It’s strongly implied that X-23 and Raze are evenly matched with Laura having the slight advantage, which is fine by me. I’m just happy to see her being a vital part of a major fight again. It also feels as though he’s starting to figure out how X-23’s dialogue works with her proper sentences and lack of silly expressions.
The action is mostly told in brief splash pages, showing how chaotic it is. If the Future Brotherhood do show up again, it would be nice to see an extended fight between them. The different X-men teams have brief dramatic moments after the fight, mostly focused on Cyclops and some of the Future Brotherhood members. They work fairly well, although they’d all work better with more time dedicated to each of them. That’s not really a problem, but it’s worth noting.
Stuart Immonen’s art is fantastic as usual. Even with the red lighting inside the alarmed X-Men base, the characters are usually easy to tell apart. The only moment of brief confusion came on the opening page where X-23 and the Stepford Cuckoo with black hair looked alike, but then you realize that the Cuckoo has glowing eyes from Xavier’s control while X-23 doesn’t. When Jean uses her psionic abilities, the panels are filled with pink energy that’s both impressive and scary. The detail on characters, their unique uniforms and the outside environment are always impressive. Facial expressions are great too, with a good mix of X-23’s anger while fighting Raze, Xavier Jr. appearing dazed after being hit hard by Jean’s psionic abilities and everyone’s surprise when the truth about Jean/Xorn is revealed. The only downside, and this is minor, is that Xavier has footprints in the snow where he ran from the base, yet nobody else seems to have footprints.
There’s a reason why this has been the top-selling X-Men book since it started. Even when you have a more action-oriented issue like this one, there’s still room for character drama with the teenaged X-Men, and that’s something that Bendis seems to specialize in. While some may not enjoy his slow-build style, when he brings the payoff it’s more satisfying. He didn’t quite succeed in making the future brotherhood a memorable group of villains, but he’s certainly on the right track. If you’re an X-Men fan who hasn’t tried All New X-Men, you really should.