X-Men: Blue #8 is an interesting comic in that it feels shorter than the average issue, and yet, so much happens! That sounds strange, I know, but I promise I haven’t been brainwashed by Hydra or Emma Frost.
I think the issue here is that X-Men: Blue #8 features more characters than the usual installment and, as a result, each gets only two or three pages of plot progression, save for Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson (or JJ, if they become a couple).
We pick up where we left off in X-Men: Blue #7: Havok and a New Tian strike force of familiar mutant faces have attacked the X-Men. Angel, Beast and Iceman are locked up, while Cyclops is Emma’s personal prisoner. Jean and Jimmy, who were presumed dead, are the team’s only hope of getting free.
Being a longtime X-Men fan, writer Cullen Bunn knows just what readers want to see in one of Marvel’s mutant books – one mystery after another, on top of one subplot after another. While providing closure to one dangling thread (what exactly is up with the X-Men’s seemingly sentient Blackbird), he sets up one more (that last-page character return… next issue is going to be fun).
Despite feeling like a shorter issue, Bunn manages to deliver some great character moments with the right amount of wit. Firestar, for instance, refers to Jimmy as “Daken” in battle, and Jimmy reminds Jean (and the readers) that he’s his own man. He doesn’t even remember his father (Ultimate Wolverine), which is fine, because I don’t really remember that character either.As a Cyclops fan, I was most interested in the new dynamic between young Scott and post-IVX Emma. I’ve accepted Emma’s new status quo, though I know many X-fans are not happy with her more unhinged mental state. Through the two characters’ interaction, Bunn lets us know that Emma is someone that still wants mutankind to prosper and has a soft spot in her heart for Scott, but may also be approaching matters from a very dark place. It’s certainly given the classically cool and calculating Emma an unpredictable edge. I trust Bunn and am interested to see where things go from here.
I know another complaint among readers has been how certain mutants have reacted to Hydra’s world domination plans. It was definitely frustrating to see Beast so at ease with it all last issue. We continue to see characters explain their reasoning, from Emma to Magneto, in a way that makes their behavior seem logical. But who knows, maybe Magneto is raging on internet message boards about #HydraCap in-between the panels.
I praised Cory Smith’s art in the last issue, and this one continues to be another visually strong comic.
The bad news: Smith doesn’t draw all the pages. The good news: Artist Joey Vazquez provides an assist and his pencils are just as great. In fact, they’re so great, I don’t even know why I framed this as a good news/bad news scenario! The switch between the two artists’ styles isn’t at all jarring. I would love to see each of them handle art duties on their own arcs – perfect styles for this consistently entertaining series.
Finally, I just need to point out that Havok continues his downward spiral (which probably began when he started sporting that man bun during IVX). Vulcan killed his own father and Cyclops killed his father figure and still, Alex comes across as the biggest screwup among the Summers brothers. And that’s really saying something, because the man comes from one of the screwiest families in comics.
Get it together, man!