In Extraordinary X-men, things are looking bad for mutant kind. So much so that it’s making a lot of X-Men fans worried. That’s why All-New X-Men 1 feels so relieving. It’s already a much more optimistic series and it’s only the first issue. Austin, Texas in particular is friendly to mutants, a nice break from the usual hatred they face everywhere else. Better yet, this X-Men team is fully gathered by the end of said issue. That said, being more optimistic doesn’t automatically make this a better comic.
For the most part, this comic is quite fun. It begins with the different team members hanging around in different places across America, whether it’s Angel and All-New Wolverine skiing the Alps in Colorado, Iceman hanging around in Texas, Beast driving around Evan and Idie in Florida or Cyclops laying low in Chicago. There are a couple of jokes thrown in, but possibly the funniest line references Ronda Rousey, which I’m pretty sure Dennis Hopeless wrote before she lost her fight. Cyclops’s narration throughout the issue describes how the future changed the O5, and it’s a great way to sum up their mindsets at this point. His fight scenes with a gang of mutants are also intense, and the second fight leads to a teaser that promises a bigger fight in issue 2. Also there is a big reveal regarding Adult Cyclops in both this issue and Extraordinary X-men. I won’t discuss it in this review but I probably will in Extraordinary X-Men 3’s review. Let’s just say it’s handled better here.
For the most part everyone’s characterization is good, although Laura’s is a bit weird. It’s nice to see her having fun for once, but intentionally knocking down trees just to slow Angel down in their race to the bottom feels a bit mean. Also, she’s usually very aware of her environments, yet she loses track of where she’s going and hits a rock that knocks her down a cliff, and then she tells Angel off when he flies in to catch her. It’s kind of a fun scene, but her characterization is weird. She knows that Angel doesn’t like seeing her in physical pain (All-New Wolverine 1 established this). Even if it doesn’t bother her all that much, you’d think she would try to avoid it for his sake. Hopeless mostly wrote Laura very well in Avengers Arena, so there’s hope that it’ll improve after this. Young Cyclops is explored the most out of everyone though, and he’s given time to show his emotional reaction to everything that’s happened, while he also gets to show off his fighting and investigation skills. His characterization feels dead on. If this issue is anything to go by, Hopeless’s All-New X-Men run will do great things with him.
Mark Bagley’s art is a touch cartoonish and likely won’t appeal to everyone, but it works. The opening pages in the Alps have good backgrounds with the mountains and trees in the distance. There’s the occasional touch of visual humour, like Evan wrestling an alligator while using his powers or Laura cutting foot with a single claw. The action flows smooth and there’s a real sense of progress in the fights. The colouring by Nolan Woodward is great. This is a bright and colourful book, matching the optimistic mood quite well.
While I wouldn’t quite call this issue great, it’s a good comic that’s also fun. It feels like a proper follow up to Bendis’s All-New X-Men, but with a story that’s already moving much faster. While Laura’s characterization feels a bit off, it’s admittedly in line with Bendis’s writing so you can’t blame Hopeless too much for that. Because this series is more optimistic, I’ll likely keep picking it up if it’s at least ok. Either way, X-Men fans should at least give this a chance.