Crossovers are just dandy, aren’t they? Here we have a marvelous series (pun may or may not be intended) forced into being the center of its own little crossover. Brian Michael Bendis is at the heart of all of this, which gives me a sliver of confidence that this storyline won’t just pander for sales. So here we go: the Trial of Jean Grey Part 1, is it good?
All-New X-Men #22.NOW (Marvel Comics)
Here you have it: Jean Grey and Scott are at wits’ end with each other, not knowing where to go or what to say. And all of a sudden, the team gets bombarded by the Shi’ar, most of them are trapped in bubbles (?) and Jean is ultimately captured. Like the cover screams: the Smartasses of the Galaxy show up to further the troubles. So yeah, pretty standard stuff.
This really frustrates me. This issue is purely set-up with no actual gravitas, a story built off of an already weak base. There’s no symbolism or foreshadowing, nothing that would make us be able to somewhat expect what is to come. The only thing that actually “happens” in this issue is Jean Grey being kidnapped, and we are still left wondering why it is that actually happened. I guess you could say that Jean and Scott’s frustration with their relationship is enough of a conflict to kick off the crossover, but it just doesn’t seem like that convincing a problem. The Guardians of the Galaxy showing up at the end was a completely by the book character reveal, and ultimately not a reason to read the comic.
And the mere fact of the Shi’ar taking Jean without an explanation doesn’t make much sense at all. We are led to believe that long time allies of the X-Men would suddenly just take a kid without so much as a “it has to be this way.” Could it be some kind of ploy by Wolverine and he asked Kid Gladiator to have his dad take Jean? I mean, that would be a nice twist, but it wasn’t at all even hinted to in this first issue. It just seems kind of random and forgettable. The kind of opening that leaves you wondering if the rest of the story will just be trivial conflicts and character reveals.
X-23, the main character and the purpose of the last arc, took a backseat this issue. There’s no sense in bringing new characters into the fold if not to use them in a way that progresses the plot. She is a wasted body, neither helping or hindering the team in their fight against the Shi’ar. The team’s dynamic feels the same now as it felt when X-23 wasn’t on the team. In other words, things are the exact same as they were before the post-BoA storyline; the last arc, aside from sucking, didn’t change a damn thing.
Brian Michael Bendis is a superstar creator, that’s for sure, but this issue wasn’t his best. Dialogue sounds frivolous and cheesy, with so many “Oh no!”s and “I have to warn…”s and even “That’s not supposed to happen!” It’s just not the high caliber to expect from this veteran creator, and thus, it is mightily disappointing.
Is it Good?
It sure looks good. With a giant #1 and some pretty font, this issue was all ready to take this series in an entirely different direction. And when Stuart Immonen is on pencils, little can go wrong. But still, this issue was a total drag with piss-poor dialogue and a weak story. This crossover shows few signs of improving, however, I plan to stick around to see it conclude.