My thoughts on this issue are mixed, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s a Secret Empire tie-in and I know that will make at least a few people angry. Personally, I really don’t care about the event either way. The previous issue almost didn’t feel like an X-Men comic in some ways because it needed to introduce the situation to non-Secret Empire readers, but apart from that it didn’t bother me. This issue feels more like an X-men issue and relies a bit less on the tie-in half of the comic, and for the most part that’s for the best.
X-Men Blue 8, written by Cullen Bunn, begins where the last issue left off. Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson climb out of the bunker ruins (believed to be dead by the others), and start their journey to rescue the rest of their team. Meanwhile, Emma Frost starts acting all creepy to young Cyclops. At this point she’s turned full-blown villain, even if she doesn’t realize it. That’s where my main complaints lie. I didn’t really like how she became a villain at the end of Inhumans vs. X-Men, and she doesn’t seem to realize how creepy she sounds when she threatens to alter Cyclops’s mind and talks like he’s her boyfriend in waiting. It screams of obsession, and depending on teenaged Cyclops’s age, it borders on pedophilia.
What does work well in this issue is Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson’s side of the story. Sure, I still don’t care one bit about Jimmy, but Jean shows herself a good leader, and the slow reveals over the course of their scenes are a lot of fun. Their blackbird ride is confusing at first, but awesome when it’s revealed what’s going on. It’s also fun how Briar (made her debut in Bunn’s Magneto solo series) outwits Havok when he tries to learn Magneto’s location and keeps giving him smug looks. And on the very last page Polaris blasts into the scene, promising an epic fight in the next issue. It’s great to see Polaris back and I hope she sticks around in this series after the tie-in is done.
The art by Cory Smith and Joey Vazquez is great. The opening page has plenty of environmental detail in the darkened forest. There’s plenty of debris that Jean telekinetically throws out of the way, and some of the smaller nearby trees are knocked down. The fight scene is the perfect mix of chaotic while still being easy to follow, and Jimmy’s confused face when he sees where their help is coming from is priceless. The colouring by Matt Milla brings the art to life with brilliant use of shadows and lighting in the forest. The later scenes are bright, colourful and delightful to look at.
Personally I don’t care either way that this issue is a tie-in to Secret Wars. It’s a decent X-Men comic besides that. With that said, I’m not a fan of the way Emma Frost turned into a villain and her behaviour in this issue is straight up creepy. All because she misses the original Cyclops so much that it’s very unhealthy. And for some reason, Havok is going along with it and not trying to help her in any meaningful way. Jean and Jimmy’s side of the story makes up for at least some of that, but how you feel about this issue very much depends on your thoughts on Secret Empire and Emma Frost going evil again.