Review: All-New X-Men #5
After four stellar issues, I would have been fine with a good issue of All-New X-Men. Instead, Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen gave us the best issue of the series yet. It’s a good time to be an X-fan.
With Uncanny X-Men relaunching soon, Bendis makes a fine decision in teasing what that book is going to be like. It doesn’t overpower the book, taking the focus away from the little X-Men. It feels natural to the plot we have been reading, while also serving another purpose. It’s brilliant writing, and something we haven’t seen from Bendis in a long time. The characterizations, one of the biggest highlights of this series, is spot on. Bendis makes young and old Beast just different enough to sell the age difference. There are a lot of voices chatting about, but someone could just read the dialogue and understand who spoke the line. Jean’s traumatic read through of Beast’s brain is handled very well, even if it is at a quick pace. The entire issue makes Jean one of the most interesting X-characters right now. Jean has never interested with me, and I thought she worked better as someone who died. But this version of Jean has some spunk to her. It also helps that I don’t need to remember the majority of her incredibly complicated history.
Five issues into the series, and we finally have the general direction that All-New X-Men will be taking. Kitty has gone through a lot of character development, and this feels natural for her. The entire issue is one massive juggle of plot threads, and that isn’t a complaint. Between Beast’s illness, Cyclops starting a new school, and the little X-Men, a lesser writer would have dropped a thread for an issue. But Bendis keeps adding them. The subtle nod to Warren’s absence is superb pacing. Bendis has always been a witty bastard, but his humor can burden an issue sometimes. This issue on the other hand, is better for it. This is an awkward situation for all, and the humor helps undercut the tension. It pops up and keeps the situation from being too serious. And if Daredevil has taught us anything, having some humor amongst the drama creates one hell of a good comic.
Stuart Immonen seemed to be having trouble with the increased shipping schedule in #4. But #5 is back to the strong pencils of the first three issues. While some characters have similar facial features, they all have something that sets them apart from the other characters. The new look for Beast isn’t that big of a change. He looks a little like Swamp Thing to me. The double splash page of Jean experiencing her entire life is amazingly detailed. The panel structure is quite complicated, but the reader never has a problem following the panel flow. It rivals Yanick Paquette’s panel work on Swamp Thing. Wade Von Grawbadger gets some help this month from Craig Yeung, and a reader can’t tell where the change in inkers took place. The same can be said with Marte Carcia and Jason Keith on colors. The double page spread is masterfully colored.
All-New X-Men #5 gets 4.5/5.