All New X-Men #01
All New X-Men #01
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Stuart Immonen

Maybe you're still pissed that Brian Michael Bendis disassembled the Avengers. Maybe you think the time travel hook of this series is gimmicky and unsustainable. Maybe you are inconsolably sad about the departure of Kieron Gillen from the X-Offices (I'm actually right there with you on this last one).

Whatever reason you have for not checking out All New X-Men #1, forget it, and get your hands on this book while you still can. The debut issue of the new flagship X-Title kicks off an exciting new chapter for the X-Men and is one of the best single issues Brian Michael Bendis has written in years.

For those readers who like myself, were enjoying the current direction of the X-Books, have no fear. Bendis takes the baton from Gillen and keeps on running with it. Cyclops is still in charge of the Extinction Team (albeit a smaller one, but no less dangerous) and continues to grow as one of Marvel's most complex and intriguing characters. The faculty of the Jean Grey School are still trying to set themselves as an alternative to their oldest friend and former leader, but are unsure how best to counter his extremist tactics. And the while new mutants continue to manifest into a world that harbors the same old hate and fear, but now they face a new choice: Cyclops or Wolverine?

There's not much that can be said about Bendis's dialogue that hasn't already been parsed out in countless reviews and columns. It's very bantery, you will either love it or hate it, etc. etc. I found the dialogue in this issue to be much closer to Ultimate Spider-Man than say Avengers. Each character has a distinct voice that sounds very authentic, especially Cyclops, Beast, and the new civilian characters we meet this issue.

Cyclops and Beast really are the stars of this show. Bendis eloquently portrays Scott as a tortured figure, driven to keep moving forward both because the mission is incomplete and because he isn't sure if he could live with himself and the choices he's made if there was time to stop and reflect. Hank McCoy makes a decision that will probably go down in history as one of his biggest lapses in judgement but Bendis completely sells the desperation, exhaustion, and depression necessary to bring Hank to this moment.

Regular readers of my reviews know that I love Stuart Immonen's work. He is probably one of my top three, if not my absolute top favorite penciller working in comics right now. This issue is a visual feast and a perfect case for why I think he is one of comics most talented and versatile artists. Look at the detail he packs into the night club street scenes. Admire the pacing of Cyclops' last minute arrival to save a new mutants from government forces. Marvel at the sheer number of characters and locales Immonen is asked to pack into this issue and the distinctive touches he gives to each.

The visual highlight of this book by far is the emotional detail and expressiveness Immonen adds to the exchange between past Scott, Hank, and Bobby. Immonen really sells Hanks outrage, Scott's frustrating level headedness, and Bobby's confusion. Immonen can bring both the nuanced emotion and the visceral action. I hope that he remains Bendis's partner on this book for a long, long time to come.

I can't say enough great things about this issue. I was expecting a good read and I received a phenomenal one. Bendis and Immonen continue the dark but exciting direction the X-books have been on for sometime now, and throw a wrench into the proceedings that could be the turning point, or make things much, much worse. I for one can't wait to see which is the case.

Grade: A-

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