For as long as fans can remember, the X-Men franchise has been synonymous with unresolved mysteries and slow-cooking subplots. For dedicated readers, the payoffs can be quite rewarding or incredibly irritating (remember the “X-Traitor”?). X-Men Blue has done an amazing job of recapturing some of those classic X-Men feels, but as of this issue, I’m beginning to worry writer Cullen Bunn is treading on dangerous ground. How many more mysteries can be introduced before we slip back into the post-Claremont era of X-confusion (remember Psylocke and Kwannon?)?
Now, before I go any further with my mystery concerns, let me just say, I believe X-Men Blue #17 is a fine addition to this stellar series. The art, specifically, by R.B. Silva is gorgeous. This penciler has contributed to X-Men Gold as well and I keep wondering why Marvel doesn’t just give him a regular gig already.
Anyway, following the cliffhanger in November’s X-Men Blue #16, we join Marvel Girl and her squad in the year 2099. Hey, wasn’t there an X-Men team running around in 2099? Yep! And Skullfire, La Lunatica, Meanstreak, Bloodhawk and the rest of the gang are all there. I read their series when I was a kid and had their action figures, but I honestly can’t tell you anything about these characters beyond the fact that they like to use cool, future slang.
In 2099, “shocking” is a curse word, apparently. You better shocking believe it!
With that said, Bunn knows his X-Men history, so I’m sure he did these characters justice. So, after the obligatory two-mutant-teams-getting-to-know-each-other segment, we learn of the latest change to history: the original X-Men at some point went mad with power and erected holographic monuments to honor their own greatness. Yes, it would appear Jean and the gang went full Trump.
Through this twist, we get to see the X-Men’s reactions to this future reality, including Cyclops’ revelation that he’s been afraid something like this would happen. This, along with Bloodhawk’s remark about the young mutants being so reckless with the timestream were nice to see. Time travel and the possible damage the adult Beast had done to reality were central to Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men run, so I’m very happy to see Bunn revisiting time displacement after All-New X-Men volume 2 writer Dennis Hopeless made us think these X-Men were from another universe.
Man, that last sentence… this is why people think the X-Men are so complicated.
But despite those cool moments, amazing art and a pretty solid second installment of “Cross Time Capers,” I found myself finishing this issue feeling underwhelmed. And I think that’s because of the additional mysteries that were raised. Last issue, we saw Magneto and Polaris disappear. Before that, we’ve had to wonder what Mothervine was, as well as what Miss Sinister has cooking behind the scenes. What was up with those secondary mutations featured in the Secret Empire tie-in issues? Will Scott and Jean or Jean and Jimmy or Scott and Bloodstorm get together or not?
See? Lots of mysteries, and now we have to wonder why the original X-Men took an evil turn at some point in the future. You’ve heard of event fatigue? Well, halfway through this comic, I think I arrived at mystery fatigue. And before we can resolve anything… well, I think you’ve realized the formula for this arc by now and can guess the cliffhanger. Or, you know, check out the cover to X-Men Blue #18 — it’s out in the wild.
A note on Cyclops and Bloodstorm before I go. In my last review, I mentioned Scott’s attraction to vampire Storm coming out of nowhere, just to throw a curveball into what seemed like the beginning of teenage Scott and Jean’s romantic relationship. I continue to be confused about the state of their romance (twice in this issue it looks as though they’re holding onto each other), and Jean even calls Scott out (via psychic rapport) for thinking about how hot Bloodstorm is in the middle of battle. I guess we’re stuck with this forced subplot. Someone should really tell Scott the whole sexy vampire thing died out a few years back.
Then again, Bunn does know his X-Men history, including Scott’s wandering eye (and tendency to get busted by his psychic girlfriend).
So, in conclusion, this was a good installment of X-Men Blue on its own. But, as a faithful reader of this entire series, I can’t help but feel like we’re throwing more food onto the grill and we haven’t even had a chance to finish what’s already on the table. Mothervine’s getting cold, Cullen, finish it before you start cooking up evil original X-Men!