This is the issue I’ve been waiting for. The original five X-Men have been brought from the past to confront the Scott Summers (a.k.a. Cyclops) and his team of mutants of today, while both teams are trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on. This issue mainly deals with this, as well as possibly giving some clues to the reader as to why the blue, furry Hank McCoy of today felt the need to bring the old team into the present. Writer Brian Michael Bendis wastes no time in going for the emotional jugular in this issue, particularly where Jean Grey is concerned. Needless to say, there are lots of questions and head-scratching going on.

One of those questions the original X-Men have is why today’s Cyclops has allied himself with Magneto and Emma Frost. Their thoughts are filled with anger, doubt, betrayal, and shock at today’s turn of events. Past Cyclops simply can’t fathom how today’s Cyclops has faltered in his judgement, going so far as killing his mentor, Professor Charles Xavier. Granted, Cyclops was possessed by the Phoenix Force when he did it, but, at this point in time, the old team has no idea what the Phoenix Force is or what it can do. In fact, Jean Grey is only now tapping into her latent psychic abilities. All they see is a future Cyclops who has fallen from grace and murdered their teacher and father figure. On future Cyclops’ side, we feel his utter shock over seeing his beloved Jean alive again. At first, he thinks his other ex, Emma, has something to do with it, but reasons it out that she couldn’t possibly benefit in any way from planting Jean and their past selves in his head. He determines, finally, that they are real, as well as who is behind bringing them from the past to the future. Speaking of which, things aren’t looking so great for today’s Hank McCoy, as he still lies in stasis at X-Men HQ. When he finally wakes up and is confronted by his peers, things begin to go worse. I won’t spoil what happens, but it’s a hell of a cliffhanger that will have you greatly anticipating next issue.

Bendis does an expert job at balancing the conflict, drama, and humor around the emotional storm brewing from both sides. The issue also contains his trademark snappy dialogue, as well as large doses of humor to counter the serious goings-on. Artist Stuart Immonen’s art is, quite simply, jaw-dropping. He perfectly captures the emotion and drama of this issue, as well as the uncertainty in the faces of all involved. Some interesting juxtapositions of classic X-Men with today’s X-Men in certain panels and pages also serves the story well. In short, this is my new favorite Marvel NOW! title, with enough innovation to make it fresh, but retaining enough of the old Marvel flavor to make it appealing to longtime fans. 10/10

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