Since I only picked up 3 comics this week, I’m just going to write a full review of each. Today’s issue of All-New X-Men starts off where the last left off, with most of the teenaged X-Men hanging around in Paris while Angel and a badly injured Wolverine are facing off against the Blob. There were some good qualities in that issue, but Laura’s terrible characterization ruined the issue for me. Since she’s knocked out for most of this issue, one would think this one would be a bit better. One would think. There will be spoilers in this long-winded review, but it feels necessary to talk about this issue’s problems.
This comic is problematic right from the first three pages. Angel flashes his cosmic wings for a moment, in a brilliant display of fiery goodness after the Blob knocked Laura out in the last issue. It’s actually canon that the Blob is afraid of fire, yet his reaction is more of boredom than anything else. Also considering he just knocked out Laura, his girlfriend, one would think he’d be at least a little angry instead of just concerned. Considering Angel (along with Gamora and Old Beast) pretty much wrecked Hala with their cosmic upgrades in Black Vortex, which Angel kept, you’d think he could send the Blob flying. He just lets the Blob leave. So far Angel is completely wasted in this series. That’s just the first three pages of this comic by the way.
I’ve said in previous reviews for Dennis Hopeless’s All-New X-Men issues that most of his characterization works. Cyclops’s personal issues are very well handled in the first three issues, and so far, he’s doing good work with Iceman as well. That’s also the case in this issue, at least with Iceman. His conversation with Evan is easily the best moment in this comic, and there’s a glimmer of hope there that this series could improve. Evan’s line about how the X-men just accepted him, despite his connection to Apocalypse, is a bit questionable however. Sure, the staff publically accepted him, but students like Quinten Quire made fun of him a lot, while others were clearly nervous around him. This isn’t a huge problem though.
Idie’s scene in the Cathedral kind of confuses me. I get that she’s angry about some of the perceptions she’s had about herself being a monster, and some of the realizations she’s come to since. Parts of her moment work, but I would think she’d be angrier at the racists from home village than at God. Then again, there are plenty of stories even in the bible of people shouting at God as they’re figuring things out. What bothers me about this scene though, is that even after Iceman is launched into her building, she completes her rather long rant before she even acknowledges his presence. That leads to my other big problem with this issue.
The way that the different X-Men slowly join the fight against the Blob feels contrived. Beast following social media on his notepad works fine, and it is an amusing moment that I won’t spoil. The rest of them however each contain their own plot hole. How did the Blob have enough time to write “let’s play” neatly onto a soccer ball for Cyclops while he’s struggling with the Beast, and how did he know that was Cyclops’s soccer ball? Why couldn’t Iceman and Evan hear the fight coming when the fight is destructive enough to break the streets? Same goes for Cyclops here. Are the All-New X-Men deaf in this issue? Why are civilians standing close to the fight instead of running when the Blob is flipping over busses and tearing lamp posts out of the ground? They’re clearly in danger.
Spoiler warning! Back to the Angel/Wolverine scene, of course she recovers from her injuries. Her characterization here isn’t bad, but that’s just because there isn’t enough time to give her bad characterization. It’s here where Angel declares that he wants to break up. Personally I don’t dislike the idea of Laura and Angel being together, even if a lot of X-23 fans do. That said, with the way they’ve been portrayed in this series, one must wonder why they’re still together. Angel is being overly protective and squeamish, and Laura is completely insensitive to it. If their relationship here was more like in All-New Wolverine, then it would actually work. I’m not sure what this will mean for the next issue, but if they go through with this break-up, a lot of X-23 fans will be happy about it. Personally, I don’t care that much either way. That said, Angel threatening the breakup of a relationship that most people don’t care about makes for a lame cliffhanger when there’s a big fight scene going on.
As much as the writing has a lot of flaws, Mark Bagley’s art is great for the most part. The backgrounds in Paris are very well detailed, showing several famous landmarks and plenty of buildings that feel like Paris. The environmental damage is impressive, with pieces of road, pikes and dust flying all over the place. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotions, whether it’s the subtle contemplation on Iceman’s face during his conversation with Evan or the cringes as Angel watches Laura heal. That said, the blood on Laura is inconsistent after she stands back up. One panel, blood is completely covering her mouth, the next, there are scattered drip lines, and in one panel, there doesn’t seem to be any blood on her at all. The colouring by Nolan Woodard is consistently great though. The shoe store is bright and colourful, while Paris’s streets are mostly brown like its buildings.
Although Laura’s character isn’t butchered in this issue like the last, there are more than enough problems to make up for that. All the X-Men seem to be deaf for some reason, the Blob forgets that he’s afraid of fire, and the Angel doesn’t use his cosmic power against the Blob. He should be wiping the floor with the classic X-Men villain. Iceman and Evan’s moment is nice and the art is mostly good, but neither of those can make up for this issue’s flaws. I want to like this series – I really like the concept, but so far it’s not doing it for me. I can’t recommend this issue, and if the next one doesn’t impress me, I’m dropping All-New X-men. That would make this the first series with X-23 that I’ll ever drop since I first got into comics.