The mini-crossover terror continues in All-New X-Men #23, the third part of “The Trial of Jean Grey.” Is it Good?
All-New X-Men #23 (Marvel Comics)
Alright kids, word of the day: awkward. Everything about All-New X-Men #23 is awkward. My first problem was the abrupt conclusion of the intro which came at a random spot in the story and just felt wrong. Then we have Scott yelling “Where is Jean Grey?!” after being met by his friends with plenty of consolation and kindness. Also, since when does Scott use Jean’s last name? I don’t even use Jean’s last name, and I don’t even know her.
Then there’s the dialogue. I guess when people say Bendis understands characters they mean he understands how to cram a bunch of characters in a book and keep the way they talk unrecognizable from anyone else’s speech. Also, Rocket Raccoon is about as stiff and unfunny as can be. He just runs his mouth without really saying much, making him unlikable and the book as a whole unreadable. That plus Hank’s incredibly cliched “wonder over all these cool technology things” dialogue is enough to make your skin crawl while reading this issue.
And if you think the dialogue is bad, wait till you get a load of all these character inconsistencies. Jean is desperately trying to get out of the room with Oracle, pounding on the glass walls when suddenly she becomes totally docile and cooperative. She went from insane and in despair to willing to explain her whole life to this complete stranger. Then you compare that with the fact that she has been trapped in a bubble cage for hours and none of it makes sense. Either she is pissed and trying to escape or she’s cooperative as a means of earning her freedom. It looks like she has picked a weird mix of both, which makes even less sense when she was just sentenced to die! It frustrates me to no end how sloppily this story is being written.
The awkwardness just keeps hitting you in the face as you look at the panels. Stuart Immonen is killer on pencils but his work is diminished by the way-too-heavy inks. The action is hard to follow because the lines are so blurred by the heavy tones. What could have been some poignant, sharp, artistic storytelling with Jean in the bubble cell is ruined by the cruddy definition and contrast. All in all, wholly unimpressive artwork.
The weak plot tops this issue off making it the worst issue of All-New to date. That’s right, there is nothing even remotely intriguing about the plot. Jean’s trial is slow and boring, dragging on with needless wordiness and an utter lack of any feeling at all. It’s complemented by the equally dull tale of the Guardians and their spaceship. The fight is uninspired and kind of meaningless at this point and should have been backed up with some more sound reasoning as to why the Shi’ar are so intent on nabbing the Guardians. The character reveal at the end, while somewhat promising, was a cheap way to gain excitement for the next issue rather than telling an actually interesting story.
Is It Good?
This was the least successful issue of All-New X-Men to date, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. From what we’ve seen so far, Guardians might be a strong enough tie-in to carry this crossover even if we don’t see some better material in this book.