Dennis’ Hopeless’ first arc thunders on – and the fun continues!
Cyclops’ throwdown with the Ghosts of Cyclops hasn’t gone well, but the rest of the X-Men are here to pull his fat out of the fire! Unfortunately, a prime scrap is interrupted by the police, and Cyclops and one of the Ghosts wind up sharing the cells while the rest of the team try to hunt down the Ghosts – and refuel Pickles!
Once again, Dennis Hopeless has proved he can write teenage characters tremendously well. The characterisation is exceptional – from Laura’s cockiness to Angel’s overprotectiveness, from Iceman’s avoidance to Cyclops’ frustration when forced to share a cell with Thirst. Curiously enough, that particular scene leaves me really feeling for the shellshocked Thirst, as he hears the younger Cyclops’ evaluation of his future self. It’s absolutely great.
While Extraordinary X-Men is dealing with events of great momentum, All-New X-Men is working on the smaller-scale, with strong character-work. It makes this book an absolute gem, and this issue has frankly cemented All-New X-Men as one of my favourite X-Men books since, oooh, Brian Wood began his run on X-Men. The action is entertaining – I love Laura’s confrontation with the Ghosts, a moment made even better when Angel intervenes unnecessarily. I also love the fact that, for once, the police actually serve a purpose in a comic book. It grounds the comic somewhat, making the world feel all the more real.
The book’s full of misadventures – Pickles causing a scene in a pizza restaurant, Evan and Idie’s way of extracting the team vehicle from the library… This is a team who are unused to the new dynamic, and who are struggling to work together. While the Original Five are settled, Angel’s relationship with Laura has mixed things up a bit, and the two new additions are relegated to background cast.
Identity remains a strong focus, with Cyclops’ fury a fascinating counterpoint to Thirst’s confusion. But it’s the subtle nods that Hopeless pulls off most effectively; while the rest of the team refer to one another as people first (“Scott”, “Laura”, “Warren”, etc.), the Ghosts of Cyclops wannabes are desperate to find their identities in their mutant code-names. That small detail is one that adds a whole new dimension of character to the comic, and as such is typically Hopeless writing.
One thing I would point out, though, is that Scott’s lines about his older self are jarring to any fan of the older X-Man. I think we need to learn just what happened in this eight-month time-gap sooner, rather than later.
The artistic team are performing strongly, although not without missteps – there’s one moment where I feel Mark Bagley’s exaggeration of Cyclops’ shouts is a tad too much, and damages the tone of realistic teen drama that the comic is otherwise maintaining. Certain moments are rendered beautifully, though, and the art and the plot synergise beautifully on occasion; Laura’s smirk being a stand-out.
All in all, I’d say that All-New X-Men is the best X-Men comic out there right now – and is perhaps the best X-Men comic that’s been out for quite a while.
5/5 from me!