Wednesday, September 23, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #33-34

I'm once again writing a measly single review for two issues, mostly because I simply do not have the same amount of time as I did before, given I still have my other RL duties at work which now entail me to focus more on making exams and lesson plans for my students since we are on the second term of schooling from where I'm from. I think it couldn't have come at a better moment, actually, seeing as the storylines for All-New X-Men have been nothing but lackluster so I don't feel regretful at all if my previous reviews have been shortened as well as generally less appreciative of the quality of its writing. Fortunately enough, these particular issues did not annoy me as much. The basic premise was fine in itself and new regular artist Mahmud Asrar had a great style and composition to most of his panels which lend a lot of diversity to his action sequences and these two issues had enough between themselves to showcase just that. Visually speaking, ANXM still maintains that sleek and cool vibe which readers will never get tired exploring with their eyes. However, Bendis' writing for the narratives and characters themselves are lacking and I'm not even sure myself what ingredient he's been missing. All I know is that it hasn't been the same and the change is not a very appealing one for me which continues to be frustrating because I still have until issue #43 or #44 next week and it's beginning to feel as though Bendis and I are stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to his latest stories. I need something invigorating again that will make writing my reviews worthwhile once more.

We left our heroes in a very compromising position the last time we saw them in issues #31-32. After the adults were swooped away from the not-so-secret bunker school to attend the hearing of the last will and testament of the late Charles Xavier, the OCF with the new recruits and X-23 Laura were left, possibly to recuperate from the crazy shit that was the past few weeks of their young lives. However, a cerebro alert caught Hank's attention concerning the appearance of a new mutant somewhere, and since there are no adults to supervise this, Jean with Hank, Warren and Bobby decided to hop on a mission, only taking Laura with them while the new kids had to stay behind with the Steford sisters. Yeah, nothing unusual, reckless and irresponsible about that. Upon arriving to the location of said new mutant, the said girl in question was overwhelmed by her powers that she accidentally sent the OCF and Laura to different dimensions where they seem to be stuck and may not find a way to return home. this really a bad thing? I know I want Bobby, Warren, Hank and Laura to go home because I want to get to know them better and Bendis hasn't allowed me that because his focus was all on Jean Grey. Yes, you read that right. The consistently blatant favoritism has gotten so bad that I'm actively wishing for Jean Grey to remain stranded in the other least until Scott returns from his space trip with his dad...or possibly, Jean could just stay there in the alternate dimension forever! I'm actually considering that tempting option and that makes me a little furious because I loved teen Jean since this series started but love became too suffocating because she's all that Bendis writes about for this title and I've frankly developed an aversion to her by now. 

Luckily, these issues (#33-34) did a great enough job to keep things balanced among the various dimensions they were all captured in. We got some cool scenes with Bobby as he fights mole people down the sewers and struggles to remain in ice form while on land because Atlanta, Georgia is scathing hot, which in turn dampened his powers. Elsewhere, Laura and Warren were reunited (how convenient was it that they both ended up in Savage Land?) and have met up with Wolverine's alternate-universe son, James Jr. who was weirded out to meet the pair but was open-minded enough to hear them out and possibly try to help them get back to their world. Meanwhile, Hank is kidnapped by Dr. Doom in a rather ironic yet pretty clever allusion to Beauty and the Beast where Doom is the Beast and Hank is his Beauty and he wanted to keep him there in Latveria after recognizing his genius and future use he could provide. Hank got to talk about his feelings of guilt and inadequacy with Doom which was pretty hilarious because of all the people he had to open up with it, it's with his captor. I can't wait to see if this relationship becomes appropriately Stockholm Syndrome-y in Hank's case. That would drive home the B&B allusion even further.

Jean Grey, once again, got the better, more nuanced scenes when she encountered the all-female X-Men of the Ultimate world with Miles Morales as Spider-man who totes is already crushing on her sweet ass (ugh, I don't get it though). Jean Grey meets the Ultimate Jean and they hugged because why not? At this point I'm treating her scenes with indifference. She's an integral part of the ANXM narrative, I get that, but I'm more invested to see how the other will fare in their dimensions especially since their contributions are just as interesting. Bobby finally stopped being just a comedic punchline; Hank is owning up to his angst and fears about the future his older self inflicted, and Warren and Laura could actually be a great romantic couple as long as we spend more time on them. So, overall, these issues were getting better and I hope Bendis continues to pick up things from now and lessen the Jean Grey-worship while he's at it.

I suppose the idea of introducing non-Marvel fans to the various alternate-universe landscapes of its comics canon is okay but it might get confusing to casual readers who are not familiar with the fact that Marvel has a rich multiverse. Much like DC, their characters have different versions in different realities and now the OCF have collided with a few of them, and as a concept that is an enthralling one to explore. So far, Bendis has taken it easy and has actually taken the time to let readers get the sense of each dimension, and for that I'll also give him a break from my harsh comments and just sit back and see where he plans to go with this on the next issues after these.


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