Thursday, September 10, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #15

David Lafuente is the guest artist for this standalone issue which was a break from all the crazy yet still fun developments that we had been subjected to so far. Lafuente's visual style is rendered memorably enough featuring characters who are drawn very stockily as oppose to lithe and pretty. I actually like that he drew their bodies like this. As a full-figured woman myself, it's nice to see some more realistic depiction of body types. 

As for the story itself, it's rudimentary and cute which is actually a relief, if you consider that issues #11-15 have been collected as the third volume of this series in trade paperback and the first three issues alone have been...intense. And when I say "intense", I meant that it featured young Jean Grey's now legendary meltdowns for Marvel Now! So I suppose it was nice to get this standalone that would allow any traumatized readers to recuperate from the clusterfuck of the earlier installments. It was also very reminiscent of the kind of material Jeff Parker indulged in during his X-Men: First Class run where we got to see the OCF act like normal teenagers with normal problems for once. The cover says it all even though I was by now wary because they tend to be misleading, exaggerated red herrings of the sort.

This time, however, the cover depicted exactly what happened in this issue. Yes, young Jean Grey and Hank McCoy get their flirt on and share a first kiss. It did make me warm and fuzzy a bit. They're such darlings and seeing them hook up like that reminded me of Chris Claremont's stint in X-Men Forever where the adult Jean and Henry also get their flirt on and became short-lived lovers. It's pretty nice although just like back then, I hardly took it seriously. I guess in my heart of hearts, I think Scott and Jean are meant to be together. Even if I was a more hardcore shipper, I still wouldn't be threatened by this development.

That being said, I like that Bendis explored the possibility of these versions of Jean and Scott to grow apart for now considering the tumultuous circumstances they have found themselves in. While Jean and Hank have a nice intimate moment in the mansion, Bobby and Scott got out of school to hang out with girls their age who were impressed of their mutant abilities. What was exaggerated in the cover, however, was Scott being there to witness the 'betrayal'. He wasn't. He was never aware of it because he was preoccupied having his own arc which was clumsily, awkwardly, reluctantly AND TOTES ADORABLY trying to talk (and kindda flirt in a very Scott Summers-way) with a girl who was incredibly smitten by him. The girl wore glasses but has red hair too. She could have easily been a Jean Grey substitute which I hope she wouldn't be if Bendis decided to bring back her character to interact with Scott again. I actually look forward to that possibility.

But let's talk about Jean and Hank first because those two are adorbs too. So older Beast is teaching Jean to control her powers and she impressed him with her adaptability and resourcefulness even though she ended up disassembling Logan's precious motorcycle. Wolvie is unhappy about it and Beast and Jean promised to remedy the damage ASAP. So while the two work on that, Jean couldn't help herself but read older Beast's inner monologue which was FUNNY AS HELL. He managed to think about the process of fixing Logan's bike WHILE also daydreaming about the young Jean and how she makes him feel (should have been creepy because of the age gap but Jean didn't think so, and frankly I found his nerdy thoughts so endearingly juxtaposed with his thoughts on Jean so I also didn't care).

There's an interesting parallel to be made between this scene and the earlier scene in issue #4 where Jean met the present-day Cyclops for the first time, and basically heard the same thought process in his head about how lovely she is; as gorgeous as the day he fell in love with her--that's what Hank was thinking here too. The only difference is (which is the difference that matters to Jean) is that Scott had also admitted to killing Charles Xavier WHILE thinking about wanting to kiss Jean IN THE SAME INNER MONOLOGUE. Understandably, Jean would be profusely turned off that the older Scott not just confessed to cold-blooded murder but also to lusting over young Jean, and only within a few sentences apart. That's appalling. Anyway, Jean confronted the more age-appropriate Hank with the question: "When are you ever going to tell me you're in love with me?" to which Hank got pissy about because he has no shot in hell with her anyway. Jean assures him that she is not in love with Scott (ARGUABLE) and Hank was embarrassed, elated and relieved all at once:

And then they make out. Such as it is. Hank gets the girl, what do you know?

Meanwhile, Bobby invited Scott to get out of the school for a while because he was freaked out by the fact that his future self is making out with Kitty Pryde, their teacher who was in charge of them, their very own Professor K. Young Bobby likes Kitty as a person but he maintains that he is not attracted to her so seeing his adult version and Kitty snogging by the garden was just too much for him. Scott, meanwhile, was in the process of writing yet another failing love letter for Jean which should confess his feelings. He once again decided that he needs to do some serious rewrite of its content. It's a good thing Bobby was there to get him out and have some fun. They met a couple of girls who were easily into them despite being mutants, and most especially after Scott demonstrated his powers against a bunch of thugs who were being car-chased by the police. Bobby proceeded to handle the rest. What a dreamy twosome!

It's noteworthy that Scott is so abashed with the attention he is receiving from that particular bespectacled girl. He was all cautious and reticent around her, but I also think it had been such a nice change of pace for him after being cooped up in one place, obsessing over a girl who is currently making out with one of his friends. I'm glad Scott didn't have to see that. Instead, we get to see him have fun with other people and possibly realize that there are other girls out there who would kill to be with him. Look at how cute these panels were:

I forgot to mention that this issue opened with Rachel Summers arriving in the school without any knowledge about the OCF being there. Storm tried telling her but Rachel was far too exhausted to care and just wanted to rest. She encountered Jean Grey in the hallway and both tried to read each other's mind but couldn't. They decided to promptly avoid each other. And then at the end of the issue, mother who time-traveled from the past (Jean) and daughter from another dimension (Rachel) met once again in the hallway and still couldn't talk to each other. It was funny to me for some reason. I sure hope we get a fleshed out interaction next time. Judging by Jean's reaction, I think she's aware who Rachel might be but doesn't want to confirm it. Obviously, Rachel knew who she is but may be too disconcerted to have a conversation with mommy dearest for now. Maybe that'd change as the series progress. I'm looking forward to it.

The issue ends with Jean looking at the wedding invitation of her future self with the future Scott which she actually kept hidden under her bed. What does this all mean? She looked glum as she examined it again. Could she be feeling guilty about kissing Hank knowing she was going to be with Scott in the future? I felt like she kissed Hank to prove a point to herself that she can change her future now that she has a chance to. She doesn't have to end up with Scott because she saw the pain and misery of that relationship; how much they struggle but keep falling apart as a couple. As a teenager who became privy to her adult life, Jean may be less inclined to consider being with the Scott she knows now, not after seeing what that boy becomes in the present; a man she has no affection or sympathy for. But que sera sera, no?

Overall, this was a character-centered issue that was personal and fluffy.


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