Wednesday, September 2, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #5

Listen, you motherfuckers: this is my most favorite Marvel Now! X-Men title to date, and I don't think that's ever going to change especially after finishing this installment. As I've said before, the Original Core Five (OCF) from Stan Lee's sixties era became endeared to me thanks to Jeff Parker's X-Men: First Class which I just ate up with as many servings as possible. Now it looks like the same thing is going to happen again with All-New X-Men. 

The most compelling thing about the premise of this story is the timey-wimey aspect of it. The idea of bringing back the old and traditional fivesome to the present world so they can see how the dream they wanted to achieve as mutant pacifists was left utterly in pieces, all thanks to no other than a radically-changed Scott Summers, would have been silly on paper at first; but Bendis and Immonen created something worth the reading experience. This series, I think, is a great callback to the classics while still maintaining the integrity of the evolution of the new blood.

This fifth installment was the perfect balance of those elements. I sincerely believe that Bendis was writing the OCF in the same manner of characterization as the one Jeff Parker established in his own series so their voices are very familiar to fans like me and are therefore easily accessible. Young Scott, Jean, Warren, Henry and Bobby are sweet and naive in a way that makes you want to root for them to win their battles. For this series, we still get that vibe and it's nice, but we also have to acknowledge that their more adult and mature selves have undergone so much hardships since. Reading their younger selves struggling with this shocking development hurts us a little especially for Scott and Jean who have arguably experienced the most heartache and evolution from all the X-Men characters within the Xavier School.

This issue opens with Jean Grey and Henry telepathically going inside Beast's mind who is struggling for his life. I went giddy over the fact that we got to see Beast in my favorite nineties form, and Jean Grey in her stylish green-and-yellow motif costume for Marvel Girl. They had some enlightening conversation as young Henry disconnects from the telepathic link to figure out a way to save himself with the help of Kitty whom he was quite lukewarm towards and that weirds Kitty a bit since he's been close with Beast in the present. Meanwhile, Scott approaches the young mutant Benjamin who has the power to shape-shift and tries to recruit him to his revolution with the promise of training him to get his powers under control. Benjamin looked convinced enough.

Most of this issue focuses on Jean and Beast as they communicate telepathically inside his head. The most notable event happens when Jean begs to know what happened to her especially how she died to which Beast casually replies, "Which time?". Puzzled and very curious, Jean was allowed to sift through the contents in Beast's memories to see what will become of her in the future and the information overload, suffice to say, was so enormous it overwhelms her, and it was excellently illustrated in a full-paged spread here:

After seeing and feeling for herself the chain of events that will happen after and during her death, rebirth, Dark Phoenix struggle, death again and resurrection again then final death (yup, she felt ALL of these deaths in one single telepathic look into Beast's memories and it was devastating), Jean made a decisive motion to stick around and fix what was broken. In these panels that made me tear up as I read them, and I will not be ashamed to say so, Jean reasons out to her fellow teammates why they need to stay in this timeline:

They took it to a vote with Scott immediately backing up Jean, claiming that if they decide, they should do it unanimously. Only Warren was opposed to it. His reasoning? Since he arrived, no one has ever spoken directly to him or talked to him about what happened to him in this timeline--and he is uncomfortable and terrified about it. Unlike Jean who is determined to change things, he is not eager to know what the hell happened to him in this present which seemed to be a fate worse than death. Personally, I forgot what happened to Warren these days and I know this series will later touch upon it so I won't research about it online and just wait for the revelation to come as I continue to read on.

Another moment I like was when Jean started talking to Wolverine as if she knew him and Logan was obviously unsettled about it. Here was the woman he loved who is totally underage and whom he had moved on from, and now she was standing right in front of him, asking him to trust her. It's...insane! Meanwhile, young Scott tried to talk to Jean but was cruelly brushed off in the last scene of this issue that really broke my heart. I don't know what's going on in Jeanie's mind but I theorized that after seeing the man her first love became, it was a rude awakening for her. Jean used to be crushing so hard on Scott back when they were young, and she never doubted him, almost blindly believes in the goodness he has shown time and time again when they are together. Upon her death, the man she loved and admired became the things he himself fought hard against and this failure that is about to come is unforgivable for her. This may seem harsh and narrow-minded because the Scott who is with her now is still the idealistic dreamer who does want to stop his future self from becoming "evil" but Jean's decision to distance herself from him was understandable. She can't be around the boy she loves and still stay objective with her number-one priority which is to take back the dreams of Xavier the man she loved in the future has so utterly ruined. 

So I think she needed the space to clear her mind and to figure out her new role as the Jean Grey in this timeline. I feel bad for Scott though and for Jean because I know she didn't mean to be cruel when she said that but she just can't look at him again and still see the boy she loved dearly after just witnessing the future-him at his worst, right? Oh, also, I have to mention that Kitty Pryde volunteered to take over the mentor role for the OCF as a way to honor Charles. So she's going to be Professor K...but she doesn't like that name so don't call her that in her face, but maybe behind her back every now and then. GOD I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS ISSUE!!!


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