When I heard Brian Michael Bendis was going to be helming this title, along with Stuart Immonen, I knew we were going to be in for a treat. I’m glad to say that my feelings were spot on. This series is how superhero comics are done. While issue #1 suffered a little from the, admittedly, unavoidable routine of being not much more than a setup story, #2 really gets the ball rolling on just how great the concept of this series is supposed to be. There’s so much to like about it, especially for longtime X-Men fans! I actually found myself grinning at some of the winks and nods to the past and knowing what is potentially in store.
In this issue, the X-Men from the past confront the X-Men of the present, thanks to the machinations of Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, in a last ditch effort to rectify recent history by calling on the fresh-faced idealism of Charles Xavier’s students. I have an affinity and fascination for time travel stories, so the whole concept of this series is very intriguing to me. As all time travel aficionados know, however, you should NOT tamper with the timeline, as Beast is doing here. Which makes it all the more interesting to see just what Bendis hopes to accomplish with this series. I mean, I can’t see how bringing the X-Men from the past to confront and discourage present-day Cyclops and his students could result in anything other than the space-time continuum from collapsing in on itself. Knowing Bendis like I do, however, I know that he has something clever up his sleeve, as well as Hank McCoy. The Marvel NOW! initiative is all about bold new risks and challenges, so this is a very fitting representation of what they’re trying to accomplish.
It’s just that very devil-may-care attitude behind this series that makes it so compelling and fun. So much fun, in fact, that I find myself not really caring about the space-time continuum. It’s just so damned fascinating to see how the younger X-Men interact with their older selves. I can’t say how long the gimmick can hold up before it starts to wear a little thin, but, for now, I’m having a blast with it! Particularly interesting was seeing a young Jean Grey discover her latent psychic abilities for the first time, as well as the noble and idealistic young Scott Summers in utter disbelief that his present day self would do the things he’s done. It’s those little touches that longtime Marvelites, like myself, can appreciate and I couldn’t help but feel a bit nostalgic for simpler times while reading this issue. Bendis’ penchant for snappy dialogue and clever storytelling really makes it all come together for me, as well. There are some minor things that didn’t quite ring true for me, however, such as young Jean being so dismissive of knowing her ultimate fate, but this was certainly not enough to ruin my enjoyment. For the most part, I have to say this is one of the best Marvel comics I’ve read in quite a while. Which is saying something, since I’m already a huge Bendis fan, as well as Dan Slott’s work on Amazing Spider-Man. There really isn’t much to complain about here.
Stuart Immonen’s pencils are perfect for this series, as his renderings perfectly capture the sense of wonder a series like this calls for. His depiction of the innocence of the younger X-Men contrasted with the war-weary veterans of the present-day X-Men is striking. He’s able to give a sense of epic scope, while also showing the more personal side of characters. Not an easy thing for an artist to do. I particularly enjoyed the heartbreaking scenes between Jean and present day Beast, as he somberly looks down when Jean asks about her future. Immonen captures those emotions perfectly.
I suppose only time will tell how this series holds up, but, for now, I’m enjoying it for what it is. Regardless of what this comic turns out to be, this is a great issue all on its own. I’m very much looking forward to seeing young Cyclops confronting his present-day self… and vice versa. I can’t help but wonder if Beast’s idea will pay off. As for this issue, it gets a very strong 9.5/10 from me. Well done, Marvel!