This is also the second time they displayed a very misleading cover, but not as misleading as Jean Grey becoming the Phoenix yet again based on the cliffhanger in the previous issue. From the very first three pages, the narrative quickly established that it was a farce; Jean was merely playing the Phoenix. It would seem that from the moment Lady Mastermind touched her mind to project an illusion that allowed young Jean to interact again with that douchebag made-believe lover that Mastermind disguised himself with to seduce her, Jean had a great idea right there and then. That great idea was to masquerade as the Phoenix which everyone believed was the real deal (myself included). Wolverine, understandably, was not happy about this, and did not hesitate to attack Jean.
Now It's questionable whether or not he would have just wounded her or killed her on the spot. Either way, he avoided the bullshit in X-Men: The Last Stand movie where Hugh Jackman's Logan tearfully holds a dead and de-powered Jean in his arms after puncturing her body with his claws. Good thing that Jean reacted quickly enough and explained that she was just trying to project that to their foes alone but since she is inexperienced, she ended up making her own teammates see the same thing anyway. She profusely apologized for the rest of the issue even while a series of badass action scenes exploded in the great half of the pages where mutant-on-mutant violence had never looked so sleek and fun to watch unfold. The Hydra bitches were there too but they were disposed of immediately (I barely noticed it).
The real centerpiece was all about OCF, Kitty and Wolverine against Mystique, Sabreooth and Lady Mastermind. It was really amazing to see the OCF hold up well on their own even though they did poorly during their Danger Room simulation with Kitty. That goes to show that when it came to actual combat, these kids were well-trained by the professor and were coordinated enough to mix up their fighting strategies, especially Hank and Scott who really shone during their fight scenes. Their coordination and camaraderie were so nice to read, considering that their present-day counterparts are completely hate each other. It's great to see their teenage versions being able to fight together and enjoy themselves in the process. I'm so relieved that Jean just faked her meltdown because seriously, let's put the brakes on those freak-outs. It also looked as if Jean is learning and taking things in perspective better which is good for her and bad news for someone like Lady Mastermind who expected she could just beat her just because she was young. Even teenage Jean is still a force to be reckoned with.
The overall tonality of this issue was quirky and humorous. There was little seriousness all throughout which helped me enjoy the physical confrontations among the mutants. There are comedy gems too; notably Jean making Sabretooth whine in pain as he lay on his back defeated (very immature but it made Logan smile); then there's Bobby throwing a snowball on Thor's face to make sure he wasn't just another illusion Lady Mastermind created to divert them as she escaped. The humor is well-done; campy enough to be entertaining but not too much that it creates a dissonance in the storytelling itself. I think Bendis has been consistent enough with this, and it keeps me invested on the characters. So Captain America and the rest of the Avengers did arrive but only after all the fighting was over (what a bunch of dorks) and Cap (who is getting old for this shit) had no choice but to commend the OCF for their help in defeating Hydra and capturing Mystique even if they didn't return the cooperation he expected in the first place. I think Cap just complacently accepted the reality that whatever Wolverine decides to do and whoever comes along with him is out of his control. That's nice, Cap. Don't sweat the small stuff. You will never change Wolverine anyway so it's best to make sure your blood pressure doesn't suffer if you get angry every time he disobeys orders and whatnot.
My favorite moment in this issue has got to be when Kitty Pryde apprehended Lady Mastermind:
Since the OCF started addressing her as their new professor in equivalence to acting as the surrogate mentor now that Xavier is gone, Kitty has been uncomfortable about the title for some reason but seeing her fully accept that role whilst punching a villainess in her face was AWESOME beyond reproach. My second favorite moment is yet another lovey-dovey Summers bromance which I will promptly end my review with because it's such a warm and fuzzy thing to do and I like to keep it light with my reviews of this series because ANXM is definitely like a spin-off to Parker's X-Men: First Class, only that I know Bendis will probably go to dark places in his next arcs for this series sooner or later. BECAUSE IT'S THE X-MEN AFTER ALL. For now, I'd like to keep the light shining before that inevitably happens.
|Look at them cutie-pies!|