By now, most readers are familiar with those rumors about Marvel trying to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans. Were they true? Who knows? What I do know is All-New X-Men Inevitable Vol. 4: IVX features a collection of stories that prove the X-Men are just as relevant as they were in 1963.
This collection contains All-New X-Men #17-19, which wraps up Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley’s run, along with the series’ first annual and X-Men Prime #1, which bridged the gap between two X-Men eras.
I was a fan of Hopeless and Bagley’s run, which followed Brian Michael Bendis’s first volume of All-New X-Men. Volume two’s final three issues were some of its best. Despite tying into a Marvel mega-event, Hopeless managed to keep the focus on the characters, which was a hallmark of his run.
All-New X-Men #17 is all about Iceman and how his blossoming romance with the Inhuman Romeo defines his view on the war between their species. If you can get past the on-the-nose similarities to Romeo & Juliet, you’ll see that this is a great issue in which Bobby explains how pointless the Inhumans Vs. X-Men conflict will be. Of the X-Men featured in this series, I’d say Iceman is among the characters Hopeless left the biggest mark on.Cyclops received the spotlight in All-New X-Men #18. Scott’s life hasn’t been easy since he was yanked through time all because of his older self’s actions… which, as is revealed in this comic, weren’t entirely his fault. This one’s all about Cyclops addressing his haters (via narration) and coming into his own.
The series’ final issue is one of its weakest for two reasons: it had to resolve lingering plots while setting up the team’s next adventures… and Jean. Jean Grey, who was absent from the entire series, makes her return to set up X-Men Blue and has a frustrating exchange with Scott. Their relationship has been strange since they arrived in the present. It’s like writers can’t decide if they want them together or not. Scott and Jean were always at their best when they supported one another – this awkward “will they or won’t they” stuff just makes them come across as confused and unlikable teens. Fortunately, X-Men Blue writer Cullen Bunn has proven he has a good handle on the characters and their history.
All-New X-Men Annual #1, by Sina Grace and Cory Smith, is the story in this collection that’s likely to have the biggest impact on readers. Aside from being a solid Idie story, it addresses those classic X-Men themes of fear and hatred. In the year 2017, when it can seem like we’re more divided than ever, the ideas Stan Lee and Jack Kirby explored way back during the Civil Rights Movement remain tragically relevant.
You can’t help but think about hate groups’ desire to push into the mainstream in modern America when you watch as Idie’s date with a fellow mutant is interrupted by a group of violent bigots. We don’t have to worry about every comic book threat we read about, but a racist wielding a brick… that’s something far too many people have to worry about in this country.
There are comic fans who want publishers to keep politics out of their superhero stories, but I say kudos to Marvel for printing tales like this. We may not be able to fend off attackers with fire and ice powers, but we can stand up to hate just like Idie.The annual also features a done-in-one story about Dani Moonstar, Magik and Lady Mastermind by Rex Ogle and Andrea Broccardo which should appeal to old-school New Mutants fans. Finally, there’s X-Men Prime, which Marvel seems to be including in all of its IVX collections. I wasn’t a huge fan of this comic, which I feel pandered a little too heavily to X-fans feeling nostalgic, but Bunn’s X-Men Blue setup is definitely the highlight.
For more in-depth thoughts from me regarding the pros and cons of X-Men Prime #1, you can read my review from March.
In terms of extras, this collection has several pages of variant covers. Although I own the individual issues in this trade paperback, I had never seen a few of these covers. So having them included is a nice treat.
While Hopeless’s All-New X-Men run was a very different animal from Bendis’s, it’s still worth your time if you’re a fan of the original five. Hopeless worked hard to reinforce to that these weren’t your father’s X-Men. Baseball games? Pfft. These mutants’ idea of fun is an impromptu dance party! Bunn has also made it clear he’s not abandoning many of the subplots introduced in this series, such as Beast’s fascination with magic. So this series is kind of required reading for Blue fans.
But ultimately, this volume reminds readers that the X-Men represent them. It may seem like they’re “different” from those around them, but characters like Scott, Bobby and Jean will always be there to prove that doesn’t mean they can’t be x-ceptional!