All-New X-Men Volume 2: Here to Stay
Collecting All-New X-Men #6-10
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: David Marquez, Stuart Immonen
Marvel Comics, $24.99, color, 136 pages
This is, bar none, my favorite Marvel NOW! title. Not because it's familiar territory, but because it's not.
Yes, yes, I'm old enough to remember the original X-Men, the ones who wore the school uniforms and were canceled in 1970. And this book brings those characters, which I haven't seen in 35 years, to the present and inserts them into the modern Marvel Universe.
But it's not nostalgia that makes me love this book. Because, frankly, the original X-Men were kinda boring. I didn't love them because they were good -- in fact, I didn't love them at all. I just felt sorry for them, as they were the underdogs of the early Marvel Universe. They weren't junior Avengers; they weren't even junior varsity. They were so weak that when Spider-Man showed up in issue #35 (Aug 67), and they had the usual fight-over-a-misunderstanding, it was implausible that Spidey didn't mop up the lot of them in two pages. Writer Roy Thomas had to struggle to keep the X-Men in the fight so much that even the Li'l Capn noticed. The original X-Men were kinda pathetic.
So that's not why I love this book.
And, yes, my favorite X-Man for decades has been Cyclops, and I have watched with bitterness as he has been pushed into the background by the more-popular Wolverine, and when that didn't hobble him badly enough, Marvel pulled a Parallax on him. It's almost like Marvel is saying to old X-Men fans like me, "OK, get it? WOLVERINE is Mr. X-Man now, NOT Cyclops, because, see, we made Scott Summers a BAD GUY, so you CAN'T like him any more, so get over it. And, oh yeah, Jean Grey liked Wolverine better, TOO, so forget the 30 years you've got invested in the Scott-Jean relationship. Also, blpfthblpfthblpfth."
So you'd think I like All-New X-Men because it resurrects the idealistic, skinny, glasses-wearing Scott Summers I identified with as a youth. But no, that's not why I love this book, either.
And, yes, this book is chockablock with a heckuva lot of Marvel characters from every conceivable angle, from good-guy X-Men to bad-guy X-Men to Avengers to whatever. And since the book is written by Brian Bendis, who has essentially written the Bible for ALL Marvel characters in one way or another, they are all completely in character with how they've been presented for the last couple of decades, and it's like a Marvel-ous mash-up of every Marvel book from 1963 to present.
But no, that's not why I love this book, although it's a contributing factor. (And if characters weren't presented in character in order to make a given plot work, I'd be up in arms.)
What makes this book work for me is that I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next. None. And anything that does happen leaves me jaws-agape. It always makes sense, but I never see it coming.
And that's fun. That's a LOT of fun.
Well, the copy was caused by the Phoenix, so it had already chosen Jean Grey as its host. I guess. Frankly, I was so annoyed when they brought Jean back I tried to forget the circumstances.