Monday, August 31, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #2

The idea of bringing back the original first class of the X-Men from Stan Lee's run in the sixties (composed of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel and Iceman) by having them time-travel to the future (or the present Marvel timeline) where things are less than idyllic (some may say a colossal clusterfuck), is a bold storytelling strategy. It could have easily been a failure. But writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Stuart Immonen were not intimidated by this daunting task at all. I say that they weren't because what they have come up with in the first two issues so far were UH-MAZING! I'm an instant fan and it's only been two issues!

A brief recap from the first issue: In the aftermath of the Phoenix Force dispersing in the cosmos which signaled the rebirth of the mutant gene, several unsuspecting youngsters discover their powers (which, as we all know, get mostly triggered by stressful situations) and were being hunted down by government factions to contain them. Recent fugitive and no longer anyone's favorite person, Cyclops, started recruiting said mutants to join his "revolution". By his side were his on-again, off-again paramour and partner Emma Frost, Magneto and Magik. The X-Men were bothered by the escalation of Scott's brutal ways especially Beast who may or may not die during the new stage of his physical mutation. Desperate, he traveled back in time to forewarn and beg the original core five members of the X-Men to come with him to stop Scott from unwittingly committing what he deems is a "mutant apocalypse".

Bobby passionately disagrees that Scott will ever be capable of that and argues it's because the guy is far too "boring" to be the bad guy. Jean, already frazzled and distrustful, insists on calling Professor X but Beast stops her and almost breaks down for a moment because he can't believe he's talking to one of his oldest friends again (Jean Grey is currently dead in the Marvel Now! timeline, FYI). 

Young, optimistic dreamer Scott was furious to hear from Beast that he will become a fascist asshole in the future which was understandable but young Henry knows that his future self would not be standing there with them if indeed the future is not in shambles and need their urgent assistance. Still unconvinced, the five decided to join Beast especially after he convulses around as he tried to get to his time box. Young Henry expressed that his future self may be dying. So the OCF get transported into the future and arrived presently in the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning. It was the old Xavier School for the Gifted and Jean knows this and she wonders why the place is now in her name, and dreads the answer. Meanwhile, Wolverine--who was busy scolding his stubborn students about ninja warfare basics--was alerted by their presence and attacked them without a second thought. Ororo, Kitty and Bobby rushed outside to see the commotion for themselves and this is when past-Bobby and present-Bobby got acquainted for the first time. And their collective reaction was, of course, on-the-mark hilarious:

Beast once again convulses and finally loses consciousness this time so everyone decided to put away their confusion and questions for later and worry about saving his life first. At the lab, we get to see OCF interact with the seasoned members of the current X-Men and there were a lot of gems in the dialogues. I'm so happy that Bendis seemed to have applied Jeff Parker's characterizations and humor as he wrote the OCF for himself in this series so it wasn't hard for me to imagine this as a spin-off of Parker's 2011 title. This second issue was such a delightful installment because it's so funny in some places. I especially liked Wolverine's temperament all throughout and Kitty's offhand side comments as she tries to take control of the situation even as the OCF look at her as some kid who they cannot believe is also a headmistress of the school alongside Mr. Bad-Tempered Claw Hands. Also, Jean Grey's telepathy was jumpstarted as soon as she arrived so she assured the rest of her friends that Beast was not lying at all and that this future (our present) is grim because she is dead and Scott is now a revolutionist hell-bent on uniting mutants under a crusade of blood and violence. So, "culture shock" does not even begin to cover it.

So then Jean puts Wolverine to sleep as the five of them sneaked out of the school and headed to the Blackbird so they can fly it to where the latest report of Scott's location was indicated based from the media coverage. If they're truly in their future timeline and everything is shitty and gone to hell, then they might as well go all the way and see for themselves the extenuating scope of the clusterfuckness and how far the rabbit-hole goes. Oh my stars and garters, this has been such a fun ride so far! I had to keep reading earlier that I've actually finished the first volume already so I might start popping out the next reviews for three and four as soon as I posted this.


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