Wednesday, September 16, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis Volume 4

The fourth volume for Brian Michael Bendis' going-strong All-New X-Men is comprised of issues #18-21 which were the installments that dealt with the aftermath of the crossover event in Battle of the Atom. It also features the 50th anniversary Gold issue as a bonus material. Man, this volume is a lot more bipolar than the usual.

Kitty Pryde shockingly decided to leave the Jean Grey Institute of Higher Learning, turning her back on her long-time comrades (and surrogate parents) Ororo and Logan whom she felt betrayed by. I won't go into details; just know that her departure is rightly justified in a way. She then decided to join her best friend Illyana (Magik) who is a member of present-day Cyclops' Dream Team of Mutant Revolution (yes, I made a new pet name for it. DTMR. Shit, I gotta make a glossary of my made-up abbreviations some time). Now since Kitty is their Professor X for this timeline, the OCF felt the need to come with her since they don't feel like the rest of the current X-Men are accepting of them anyway. This is great news to Warren who was pleased that his friends finally saw some sense and now the five of them are complete once more.

I don't really believe Kitty agreed with Cyclops' vision since she has her own way of doing things but I like that they're able to be civil with each other. The man may have murdered Professor X (whose role Kitty has been filling lately for the teenage OCF), but Kitty does respect him and does not harbor bitter feelings towards him in the long run unlike Wolverine. I think Kitty wanted to let bygones be bygones and focus more on training her students who are counting on her guidance, and this characterization for Kitty Pryde in this series has most definitely endeared her to me. Since reading her character in action for the first time in X-Men Forever and then for Days of Future Past, I find Kitty to be one of the exceptionally likable and enjoyable X-characters out there. Her development, relationships with people, and principles always get me interested because they're well-written, and her role in this title is no exception.

In issues #19-20, the OCF went on their first mission to help a fellow mutant who is wandering around aimlessly and scared in the city. The issue opens with said mutant being harassed by the anti-mutant fanatics known collectively as the Purifiers whom everyone knows are the descendants of Reverend Stryker whose legacy of hatred and ignorance continues to spread even to this day. The OCF with Kitty and Magik arrived just in time to prevent yet another senseless hate crime, and we are treated to fabulous pages of fight scenes. 

In any case, I've enjoyed the confrontation between the OCF and the Purifiers. This is the first time the OCF have encountered them after all and I don't think they realize the gravity of this moment. After all, the OCF belong in the sixties, in an idyllic time where mutant discrimination isn't very rampant or blown out of disgusting proportions. Luckily enough, the goddamn Purifiers were more than enthralled to get the kids up to speed. These motherfuckers keep shouting out biblical scriptures as they murder in the name of God, hence also simultaneously making every Christian in the vicinity who is not a hatemonger feel like puking because now his or her own faith is associated with such stupid fanatics. The one thing so unforgivable about these Purifiers is how they twist the word of God to suit their inclusive views about race intolerance and self-entitlement, all the while considering themselves faithful servants of the Lord who, according to their delusions, hate the mutant race because they are unnatural abominations. "God did not create mutant" is the main idea to take away here. Yeah, that's very Christian. Please stop disguising your hatemongering with anything else but just that.

Issue #21 opens with a great callback to Chris Claremont's piece God Loves, Man Kills and the illustrations themselves seem to look exactly like the panels featured in the aforementioned storyline with a few touch-ups here. Anyway, I was no longer paying that much attention to whatever fucking delusion Stryker Jr. and his apostles are currently chewing on so reading this issue was a pain in the ass. Seeing my babies incapacitated was no treat, but time-dispelled Jean Grey is proving to be someone you should never fuck around with, and she is not thrilled about Stryker and the Purifiers at all. It just occurred to me that even her present-day adult version has never encountered the full force of the Purifiers (she was dead during God Loves, Man Kills) so it's noteworthy to see how she is reacting to all of this. 

And let me tell you, she might be one meltdown away from killing these motherfuckers. I wouldn't be oppose to it, but the truth is, what is chilling about her reaction so far is how...calculating they are. She doesn't get full-blown angry but rather quietly seething--which for me is a lot more dangerous than her nuclear meltdowns. It feels as if after meeting the woman she becomes in the future when she decided to stay in this timeline (I'm referring to Xorn-Jean Grey from Battle of the Atom), I think teen Jean is beginning to see her point of view or at least understand why future-her got to be so vengeful. She could feel the pressure of still turning into Xorn-Jean if she's not careful with how she's dealing with anti-mutant assholes at this point. I just get the sense that Jean is struggling internally, whether she's aware of it or not, to minimize her negative feelings toward that infuriating faction of the human race that desires to destroy the mutantkind. I guess, what I'm saying is, she might become the next Magneto if she's not too careful. Xorn-Jean from Battle of the Atom was certainly giving off that world-weary witness-to-atrocities vibes in same manner as classic Magneto. That should intrigue you, dear reader. It certainly had me thinking.

The Gold issue #1 aimed to showcase the best aspects that there is to love about the X-Men. The stories featured herein were written by Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, Louis Simonson, Roy Thomas, Len Wein and Fabien Nicieza. They have all contributed substantially enough in the X-Men universe way back so it was nice to read their material again albeit in the form of flash fictions. The five stories themselves were whimsical and kooky which is just the way I like them. Nothing too heavy but there is some lightness to be had particularly with that Stan Lee/Louis Simonson piece about the original X-Men and their very stilted sixties language that made me giggle non-stop because of how cheesy they used to sound like back then.

The longest story here had to be Claremont's Sentinels piece where we get to see the old-continuity X-Men before all the scary shit about mutant decimation occurred so it's pre-House of M era and we get fantastic character moments with Kitty Pryde and Rogue who had just become a part of the X-Men after being Mystique's sidekick for a while. Prof X and Scott are having happy times with their girlfriends here (alien empress Lilandra and Madelyn Pryor) while Nightcrawler is still very much alive (OH, I'VE MISSED YOU, ELF!). I hate anything with Sentinels but this story was acceptable enough. It was colorful and flashy and reminded you of the times when the X-Men can still enjoy themselves while doing good instead of worrying about their survival against hatemongering assholes like the current storylines we have now.

The other two pieces were delightful oneshots that feature the perspective of certain characters. The Roy Thomas one was about Banshee and Sunfire totally bro-ing it up with their little adventure. Meanwhile, Len Wein's Wolverine-focused piece was absolutely hilarious. The way that dude thinks can be so outrageous yet endearing all at once. Of course, the last piece of this issue was the only one that ended up unraveling me by the seams...then drove me bat-shit insane.

Yes, the greatest surprise in this issue for me was the fact that we even got a Professor X/Magneto story! And of course it was penned by Fabian Nicieza himself! If you don't know who this jerk is, then please refer to his nineties stories Fatal Attractions and Legion Quest which are both tales of Cherik-centered madness and shippy angstiness that would render any Charles/Erik shipper such as myself angry, tearful and comatosed because of Nicieza's paradoxical pleasurable and agonizing depiction of these two dorks' relationship.

Overall, the fourth volume All-Different was a great mixed bag worth chewing on.


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