Uh oh, the consistently entertaining X-Men: Blue has found itself smack-dab in the middle of Marvel’s controversial Secret Empire event! Will the time-displaced X-Men, and their loyal readers, survive the experience?
Yep! This issue is another winner from writer Cullen Bunn and – an added bonus – none of the X-Men are revealed to be Nazis!
First, a disclaimer: I’m not reading Secret Empire but I get the gist of it: Captain America is on a mission to piss off the entire internet, right? Anyway, Hydra, under Steve Rogers’ leadership, controls the United States and mutants have relocated to New Tian under the rule of Xorn (Grant Morrison must be so proud). He’s not alone, though, as Sebastian Shaw, Beast and Emma Frost are by his side.
Side note: Anybody remember the days when Beast was one of the fun X-Men? Now he’s chilling in a throne room while Hydra reshapes America in its tentacled image. Cool, Hank, you do you.
And yes, you read correctly, Emma is there too. But that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who read Secret Empire: United #1 (that one I did read, because X-Men). Surely to many fans’ delight, Emma has ditched her Cyclops-Magneto-S&M cosplay outfit from the conclusion of Inhumans Vs. X-Men in favor of her traditional White Queen garb. She’s also sounding a bit more like her old self, so it’s good to see Bunn attempting a bit of character course correction after her villainous – and controversial – acts in IVX.
While older X-Men like Beast are cool with the new status quo, our heroes – the same ones Beast yanked through time to ensure a brighter future (lol) are not. We see Jean and the gang liberating rebellious mutants and humans from the Alcatraz Detainment Center (heads-up, fans of Random). The world may have gone mad but the original five are still heroes–and Bunn does a great job of showing that through their dialogue.
When Jean tells the team the prisoners are going to be telepathically brainwashed into submission, Cyclops replies, “They’re not. Because we’re here. We won’t let it happen.” You tell ’em, Scott!
Of course, the rulers of New Tian can’t have that and dispatch a strike team of familiar faces to put a stop to the Blue squad’s uprising. I don’t want to reveal who exactly is on this strike team, as the reveals are part of the fun of the issue, but I will say there are mutants from several X-eras and some secondary mutations (now Grant Morrison is really proud).
One of the best things about this issue, in my opinion, is that it picks up and runs with a few of the threads introduced in IVX. Don’t worry, there are no Inhumans. I mean plot points introduced in Bunn’s Uncanny X-Men tie-in issues and characters we haven’t seen since Jeff Lemire and Charles Soule’s event series. I know continuity isn’t everybody’s favorite aspect of comics, but for me, I like having my investment in stories mean something months down the line, more so than when creators abandon plot points they don’t care for.
Bunn has done a nice job of using Secret Empire to his storytelling advantage. And after a few pages, you totally forget about the whole Hydra Cap thing, as this issue is all about the mutants. I’m excited to see where this story goes. Every month, Bunn just keeps piling new twists onto our heroes, ensuring there’s never a dull issue of X-Men: Blue.
On the also-not-dull front – this issue’s art, courtesy of Cory Smith! His style is consistent with the youthful and energetic pencils we’ve seen throughout this series, but without a doubt one of my favorite artists to work on Blue so far. Sometimes his pencils reminded me of Oliver Coipel’s, other times Stuart Immonen – both great artists, right? Marvel, keep Smith on this book – he and Bunn will do magical things together.
Finally, I have to say that the action really ramps up in the final pages of this book, so much so that I got angry. Angry in a good way, though. Angry like, “Ah, I need to know what happens next!” Good thing we don’t have to wait long for the next issue. You’ll see what I’m talking about once you read this issue.
What are you waiting for, go read it!