I was left with a feeling of both disappointment and unease at the end of last issue of All-New X-Men. Is this what Marvel does now? After a series has served its purpose and been the seed of a crossover it’s time to just let it go and be only mediocre? But alas, I have hope yet. With Scott kissing Laura on the cover, this issue promises to be dramatic, but is it good?
All-New X-Men #20 (Mavel Comics)
Although I have no experiance with X-23 as a character I was excited to see how she played a role in the team. The story in this issue revolved around her and was split up into two very distinct halves. In the first act of this comic X-23 is realizing where she is, who the people surrounding her are, and where she plans to go next. None of her reactions are at all entertaining or interesting. It’s pretty much a run-through of all the aspects of this team and her (sometimes snarky) comments on all of them. It lacks the feeling of a really fresh perspective, and even dialogue master Brian Michael Bendis can’t make what she’s saying sound intriguing.
Laura’s relationship with Scott is also way off and absolutely nothing like the cover suggests. There isn’t really anything there; they simply get to know each other for a little while when suddenly Scott hugs her out of pity. Maybe some interesting drama that really changed the team’s dynamic would have come out of the issue if they shared this wild romance like pictured, but really, I was disappointed by the way Bendis wrote their relationship.
The second half of the story continues the story of the religious zealots who terrorized the X-Men last issue. Again, really nothing here in terms of content that we haven’t seen before. Bendis writes the baddies just like you would expect them to be, nothing above expectations. Despite my disappointment with the way they are handled as characters, they as a plot device and Laura’s passion for serving revenge is an interesting point for Laura to join the team.
My complaints with Bendis’ work this issue pretty much stops there, and are almost excused because of the terrific pacing of this comic. While the beginning half of it was more exposition than the second, that made for a very well rounded story, completing both set-up and a nice spurt of action. What I disliked, however, was the pointlessness of the violence. I understand that these religious people do the X-Men major injustices, but revenge through violence is never the answer. If they had worked out some terms or just had these men imprisoned it would make the X-Men look better in the public eye and have avoided bloodshed.
Fundamentally, I have no problem with this book having two different artists, especially when each artist is assigned to completely different scenes, but I have a couple minor gripes about how things are executed. For instance, during the more talky scenes, all of the bubbles and art were crammed into tight panels allowing for very little dramatic effect. However, in the second half of the comic there are spreads left and right giving the violence more of a stage and more room to maneuver. For me, this is not a winning strategy. I like the conflicts of comics to take place in the way characters interact, not in the action sequences. Yes, I understand the sheer power and scope of Scott’s optic rays, but I would rather be getting a better grasp on how he’s dealing with these situations emotionally.
- Laura is a nice addition to the team
- Art is fundamentally very good
- Pacing is good
- Art is not utilized as well as it could be
- Characters and dialogue are so off
- The action is just violence for the sake of violence
Is It Good?
This whole arc is shaping up to be skippable. Not a very compelling story of the X-Men, but it might bring fans in to see X-23 in action. This is made even more disappointing considering we know how well this creative team can do. It’s not like I’m going to be dropping All-New X-Men anytime soon, I’m just not enjoying it all that much.