Do you believe in magic? It’s fine, you don’t have to. But you should believe that Marvel has released yet another great issue of X-Men Blue–because that’s the truth!
Now, all the X-Men skeptics out there reading these words are wondering, “What… did writer Cullen Bunn make a mystical deal with the Goblin Queen to ensure constant praise from AiPT!”? Nope. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Bunn tore a page out of Chris Claremont’s book of mutant magic and memorized its incantations to produce his own brand of classic X-Men tales.
X-Men: Blue #10 channels those classic Claremont stories that bounced from one subplot to another while never losing the reader along the way. One of this series’ long-bubbling subplots finally comes to a head in this, the first part of the “Toil and Trouble” arc. Just what exactly has the newly magic-obsessed Beast been up to in his lab? Turns out he’s become the Goblin Queen’s apprentice.
Oh, Hank… remember when you were the Beast everyone still liked?
So why did Beast join forces with the Goblin Queen–after facing off against her toward the end of Dennis Hopeless’s All-New X-Men run? Well, as Hank tells Gazing Nightshade, a character Bunn introduced in X-Men: Blue #6, he wants to feel important again. In the modern era, Hank feels as though he can’t simply rely on his intelligence. He needs an edge. he needs magic. He needs the Goblin Queen.
How could anything possibly go wrong?
The older version of Beast has proven time and time again that he doesn’t have the best judgment. He’s a man who made his mutation worse and brought the original X-Men through time to teach the older Cyclops a lesson. So it’s fun to see the younger version of himself making the same types of mistakes. The circumstances may be different, but Beast is destined to make the same self-destructive decisions.
Despite this being a Beast-focused story, Bunn finds enough time to check in with the rest of the cast, establishing fun new dynamics in the process. You’ve got Danger acting as Iceman’s teacher/therapist, and a burgeoning friendship between the team’s resident blond dudes, Angel and Jimmy Hudson. But quite possibly the coolest scene involves Magneto and his daughter Polaris conversing over tea. Why? Because there aren’t enough superhero comics in which costumed characters in capes chill and sip on tea.
Finally, we check back in with Cyclops and Marvel Girl, who now have the ability to hear each other’s thoughts via an unintentional–and “permanant”–psychic rapport following Jean’s mental battle with Emma Frost. Probably the worst thing that could happen to two teenagers who may or may not have feelings for one another. Or maybe the best thing. Bunn explores the pros and cons in a way that makes you both excited for these two awkward kids, but also terrified. Because, come on, they’re X-Men… you know this is going to blow up in their faces eventually.
This issue, we’re also introduced to the latest X-Men: Blue artist, Giovanni Valletta, whose pencils definitely align with the style we’ve seen in this series so far. But I’d say his art leans more toward Cory Smith’s than Jorge Molina’s. Either way, Valletta provides a youthful, indie feel to our fresh-faced heroes’ adventures this issue. I will say, his Goblin Queen is so demonic you’d never know she was once Jean’s clone. I hope Bunn addresses that connection next issue, because it bummed me out that Hopeless didn’t.
If this issue has any flaws, I’d say it’s the fact that X-Men: Blue has quickly established itself as a comic for die-hard X-Men fans. Personally, that’s one of the reasons why I love it–I’m never lost whenever an obscure mutant shows up. But, I can see how a reader who isn’t familiar with the likes of the Goblin Queen, Miss Sinister or Bloodstorm may go, “Wait, this person looks familiar, but… whu”?
So, maybe not 100% new-reader friendly… but, we’re entering Marvel’s Legacy era, right? Get lost new readers–we’re getting our old series numbering back! Move over X-Men: Blue #13, make way for X-Men: Blue #… oh right, just #13. New series, never mind, carry on.