All-New X-Men #5: Convolution
I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why there isn’t one writer out there who can pen an X-Men story without turning it into a convoluted nightmare. I was really hoping Brian Michael Bendis, fresh off The Avengers, would help streamline the world of the X-Men with All-New X-Men. At first, he seemed to be doing that. Hank McCoy, aka The Beast, knowing that he’s dying from his own mutation, went back in time to bring the '60s original X-Men to the present. McCoy hopes that the current off-balance Cyclops will be brought sane again by the more reasonable past Cyclops.
Naturally, that didn’t work out and it left Bendis on the dangerous precipice of losing history. That sound you just heard was the scream of All-New X-Men as it plummets into the cavern of convoluted plot points. There are two major problems with All-New X-Men #5 that derail the story. The first is the subplot of Hank McCoy dying. The entire premise of McCoy bringing the past X-Men into the future was a dying wish to see present Cyclops brought back from the edge of his current madness. Except, well, McCoy isn’t really dying. Apparently, one of the most brilliant men in all the universe screwed up his math. His mutation isn’t killing him, he just calculated wrong.
So, that’s it? The genesis of this entire arc was McCoy didn’t carry the 1? I realize nobody in comics ever really dies but c’mon, at least hold the suspense for a little while, and if you can’t do that, please don’t try and shill that a genius like Hank McCoy screwed up his math. The end of this issue brings about the start of a new story arc, which makes this “oh golly gosh, my numbers were off” plotline feel like a shallow and easy way to wrap up Hank’s contribution.
That brings us to the second problem. Most of issue #5 takes place in the mind of Hank McCoy, as he connects psychically to his past self and past Jean Grey. During this conversation, present Hank allows Jean to see her future, which drives her a bit over the edge. Jean decides none of the X-Men are returning to their time, because doing that will result in past Professor X mind wiping them and all of this being for naught. Instead, Kitty Pryde steps up and says she will train and look over the past X-Men.
Now, the past X-Men will exist with the present X-Men in the same time. How does that work? Won’t every single thing they do affect the present as soon as they do it? Shouldn’t all of the current X-Men have the memory of doing this? Even if the end of the arc has past Professor X mind wiping his students, the memory should be active in the current X-Men until that happens. Unless the current X-Men don’t remember it because the past X-Men do get mind wiped.
Maybe there will be a kitten with an axe or a big pot of gumbo sent by the magical rain forest elves named Clickity Clack Clack. Hell, let’s just have the X-Men give up crime fighting and form the world’s most advanced mutant Flash Mob. Why not? According to Brian Michael Bendis’ version of the space-time continuum, none of this matters and has zero effect, so fuck it, let’s roll with it.
Outside of the two major problems, there’s also a really awkward scene between Cyclops and a new mutant discovery, as well as a Wolverine speech to past Cyclops that sounds about, oh I’d say, zero percent like something Wolverine would say. I’m not sure exactly what Brian Michael Bendis is trying to do, but All-New X-Men #5 is a big mess. BMB might work his way out of this, but my question is why make the story go down this way at all?
Stuart Immonen, whose art I usually adore, is off his game in this issue as well. All the art feels rushed, as if the deadlines got the best of him. Part of it isn’t Immonen’s fault. Bendis has crammed so much exposition in this issue that the artist has entirely too much to draw for one issue. Still, the visceral excitement and strong characters are lacking here. All in all, All-New X-Men #5 is a misstep for Bendis’ new series.
(2.5 Story, 3 Art)