In 2012’s major Marvel event, Avengers vs. X-Men, phoenix-possessed Cyclops killed Charles Xavier. That act has forced Scott Summers into exile from the bulk of the X-Men ever since. And now, the X-Men must deal with Xavier’s last will and testament, and Cyclops is named in the document. It’s drama bomb time.
After a brief flashback to Secret Invasion, Brian Michael Bendis kicks off the storyline in She Hulk’s legal office. After receiving the legal document, she heads to the Jean Grey School where they’re cleaning up from last issue’s massive battle with SHIELD. These scenes are mostly setup, but they work pretty well. You can feel the awkwardness in the room once they’re informed that Cyclops must also be present for the reading. Meanwhile on Cyclops’s side of the X-men, Dazzler is dealing with some very heavy issues of her own. Having recently been rescued from Mystique’s clutches only to have her captor disappear, she has a mental breakdown. On that subject, the recently revealed Dazzler redesign doesn’t show up in this comic, but the build-up toward her new look is clearly shown.
This is mostly a dramatic setup issue, and a good one at that. Cyclops shows deep regret over his actions during AVX. Eva Bell is still insecure about her powers and exactly what happened to her during the Tabala Rasa exercise (it’s mentioned but not revealed). This issue doesn’t really have any surprises because Bendis is saving them for later. What would probably annoy new readers the most is that a good portion of the issue is dedicated to new character named Matthew who doesn’t have an obvious part to play, but as Bendis has shown, each little moment in his X-Men comics builds to something.
The art by Kris Anka is simple yet solid. When Dazzler has her mental breakdown in the bathroom, you can feel her anger through her expressions, ruined makeup and flashbacks. Establishing panels do a great job of establishing their scenes. You first see She Hulk’s office from outside, with a reflection of New York City in the window. At the New Xavier School there’s a panel of the All New X-Men practicing outside. In the Cerebro monitoring room, there’s a blue glow that sets Cyclops and Eva Bell in a silhouette while they talk, making for an effective appearance that matches the scene’s mood. The look of surprise when She Hulk announces the Will of Charles Xavier to the Jean Grey School staff is priceless. The art is never heavy on detail, but it’s appealing to the eye and facial expressions are always well drawn.
The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier is off to a good start. For a story that’s bound to have a strong influence on the X-Men franchise as a whole. It’s probably best to start off with a mostly dramatic issue. It seems that with time, Bendis has only improved on each character’s voice. While some won’t enjoy his style of writing or his slow-building methods, any X-Men fan who hasn’t given his work a shot should do so.
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This is a great issue. Tons of drama, really well-executed. The scene with Dazzler in the bathroom is a particular highlight – Bendis lets Anka do all the heavy lifting there, and Anka nails it.