The time-sweeping adventures of Tempus come to an end in ‘All-New X-Men Annual’. And it’s pulled off with tremendous skill, leaving me very, very impressed with Brian Bendis’ writing!
I say again that Bendis has made an extremely gutsy choice in making Eva Bell the star of the annuals. Whereas usually you get an annual featuring a band of mutants, in these annuals you’ve had just the one major character, with time and space rewriting themselves around her.
This issue is an extremely important one, as well, justifying its being part of ‘All-New X-Men’. The parallels between Tempus in 2099 – experiencing and living in a future that ceases to exist the moment she return – and the All-New X-Men are obvious. Is it possible that, the moment he brought the All-New X-Men into the present day, Hank McCoy rewrote history? Is it possible that the timeline as we know it hangs together by a thread, purely based on the fact that the All-New X-Men are still here?
Bendis gives us two unusual ‘voices’ through which we learn these lessons: Morgana Le Fey, introduced in a brilliant but oh-so-logical twist, and a future Sorcerer Supreme. But undeniably, the focus is on Tempus and on the lessons that she must learn. Bendis is smart in his timings, giving a gentle nod towards an arc that is fulfilled in the same week’s ‘Uncanny X-Men #29’, and making the whole thing look like a masterclass in writing comics.
The quality of the art remains breathtakingly high, although it’s hard to wince at one scene that ignores ‘Marvel Time’ and essentially tears the shifting timeline of Marvel Comics to shreds. Particularly when the discomfort of those splash pages – which are otherwise superb – could have been mitigated by the simple recourse of not putting years on the images we see.
The story of Eva Bell has come to a logical conclusion here, boding ill for the future, while also completing a tale of painful human tragedy. When the Sorcerer Supreme discusses it, his understatement just makes it all the more horrible. Once again, Brian Bendis has put together an issue that I’ve really enjoyed, and I consider myself thoroughly impressed.
My score: 9/10 (due to the logic gap with ‘Marvel Time’)