Now that the Secret Empire tie-ins are done, we can get back to X-Men Blue’s usual narrative. Not that the tie-ins were terrible. The last issue was pretty good for the most part. The last arc was just harmed by the fact that it tied into a bit of a controversial event (of which I don’t have much of an opinion on either way) and the reveal of some lame secondary mutations.
X-Men Blue is mostly a downtime issue, with several characters taking a much needed break from the chaos. At some point in the previous arc, Jean Grey and Cyclops developed a psychic link, and writer Cullen Bunn does a great job with their conversation. There’s a touch of humour, like Cyclops pointing out how Jean Grey’s thoughts keep dwelling on the X-Men boys being cute. But in the end, it’s a heartfelt conversation that seems to hint that they’ll start being a couple again. That might annoy some people, but I’m ok with that. Meanwhile Iceman is training hard with Danger, who revealed herself as the team’s blackbird a couple issues back. That was a great reveal.
Possibly the best part of this issue is the brief, yet deep conversation between Magneto and Polaris. Long story short, Magneto wants Polaris to stick around, and his reasons are sound enough to convince her. He wants someone to challenge his strategies, something that few but Polaris would have the guts to do at this point. Of those who knows he’s alive anyway. There is a bit of story and action of course. I won’t say exactly what happens, but it’s not a surprise either. Basically, one of the team members makes a badly misguided move that brings a bunch of powerful villains right to the X-Men’s door. It promises an intense fight in the next issue.
The art by Giovanni Valletta is good. There are maybe a few too many lines on Beast’s face, but apart from that, there’s a good amount of detail throughout the comic. Ice Man’s larger form and use of brute strength during his training looks impressive, and Danger’s choice of weapons during their session is kind of awesome, with an energy gun arm and a chainsaw arm. The enemies that appear at the end of the issue look intimidating in all the right ways, and they strike a good balance between recognizable and twisted. Guru-eFX’s colouring is good. The streets of Madripoor are colourful with all the lights above the shops, and there’s great use of light reflecting off of shiny surfaces and shadows as Jean and Cyclops walk outside at night.
The downtime parts of this comic work fairly well. Several characters get some good development, like Magneto, Cyclops and Jean. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about a certain character’s mistake yet, but I can’t say it’s out of character. On the one hand, this issue shows how much potential this series has when a writer like Bunn takes his time to focus on characters. On the other hand, it kind of introduces yet another villain (who we’ve seen in previous volumes of All-New X-Men) to X-Men Blue’s already overly complicated build-up. There’s enough quality writing to call this comic good, but I’m hoping that a clearer direction for this series will show itself soon.