Rating: 4/5 – The accessibility and inspired storytelling have pulled me into the story
Collecting All-New X-Men #1-5
Brian Michael Bendis, much like X-Men comics, evokes strong opinions from many comic readers. After a decade writing Marvel’s Avengers line of books, and growing that title’s readership significantly, it comes as no surprise that Bendis has been handed the keys to the X-mansion. However, there are a number of readers who soured on his ‘voice’, particularly as it dictated the Avengers; it is for those readers that this review might be of most interest.
For those unfamiliar with Bendis’ writing, it’s dialogue-heavy, to say the least. There is also a cynical ‘lightness’ to much of Bendis’ superhero work; it’s as if the heroes in many of his stories are breaking the fourth wall, self-aware to the fact that they exist in a rather ridiculous fantasy world.
But even amongst this spoiled-age of fantastic new comics, the work of Stuart Immonen catches the eye. And if All New X-Men is any indication, teaming with Immonen inspires the very best writing from Bendis. These two storytellers simply gel with one another. The passion these two creators have for their world-building is unmistakably evident in this first volume of All New X-Men. They breathe life into every corner of this book; most notably, they develop some particularly endearing characterizations. Immonen’s emotive character designs breath genuine life to Bendis’s distinct take on these characters better than any of the vast cabal of talented artists he has worked with before.
The X-Men has a massive cast of characters. As such, the X line of books are easily amongst the most continuity-laden series in comics. Complicating matters further, a central tenet of the franchise is that the number of mutants in the Marvel U is growing exponentially. In short: this series is a tough sell for new readers.
There is no getting around the fact that this series stands upon the shoulders of decades of well-trodden continuity. Fortunately, “All New” makes effective use of the X-Men’s character-driven back-story, and does so in a fashion that is immensely satisfying for longtime fans.
But is this book accessible for new readers? I am happy to report that Bendis has indeed found a way to please both new and existing readers. It’s really quite a clever hook: Bendis has centered this story on the original ‘core’ group of X-Men from their earliest days. And although this may sound a bit obvious, being an X-Men story, this tale is anything but straightforward, and it’s made all the better for the added complexity.
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