All-New X-Men #17 begins with an idea.
A few years into the future — a future in which the classic X-Men have not returned to their original time — Jean Grey persuades Disco Dazzler Alison Blair to run for President of the United States of America.
It’s not like Grey hasn’t ever put a thought into someone’s head before — and the last time she did so, it came from a more future Jean who gave Scott Summers her blessing so he could pursue a relationship with Emma Frost.
This idea, like her other, gains traction, and Blair gives her victory speech. The world rejoices as mutants and humans alike celebrate their unity.
And then, there’s fire.
Readers get to see the moment where things went so wrong for the presumed X-Men of the future who have traveled back in time to warn the others. To complicate matters even further, the X-Men of the future are … impostors? Or worse: Traitors?
After a slow-roast of a story the first few issues into the Battle of the Atom crossover, things have been set to flash-burn as Magik’s field trip to the future reveals plenty of surprises and plot twists.
In a world where Sentinels protect mutants, and Jubilee is the leader of the X-Men — the real X-Men — something has happened to make Henry McCoy and his associates turn. What it is, no one will say, but when another X-Men team comes to the present time, it looks like three generations of teams will meet for an epic standoff.
Brian Michael Bendis picks up the pace and turns it to 11 this issue. The assassination of the first mutant President and the subsequent chaos looks like it sets something into motion, but there’s more to it than that.
What looks like an attack by the forces of Limbo suggests Magik could be responsible for what’s happened, though there are other questions. If the classic X-Men never returned to the past, it’s assumed their present counterparts ceased to exist because the time-displaced versions grew old from their teenage selves into this very different future.
But why is older young Jean Grey angry at her younger self, besides the fact that her younger self’s decision to stay led to this version of the future? There must be more to it, and the next month’s worth of X-Men issues will hopefully bring more answers.
Stuart Immonen’s pencils are a sight to behold, and he is arguably Marvel’s best artist in their stable. There’s a polish to the art with an amount of detail and thought suggesting Immonen is invested in telling a great story through visuals. It’s not just the character designs — the character expressions and panel composition makes All-New X-Men a cinematic experience with emotion. Take a look at Beast’s angered grimace, and it’s plain to see when and why he turned rogue along with the other former X-Men members.
Marte Gracia’s colors are beautiful, and the brighter colors showcase a future that’s optimistic. Gracia’s high-contrast colors along with Wade von Grawbadger’s inks give the art depth in shadows and a textured feel. Seeing the difference in Colossus’ sheen versus Beast’s fur, and there’s a craft to the art that’s present in the different dimensions of it.
That said, All-New X-Men #17 serving as chapter six of the Battle of the Atom storyline finishes the first act of the crossover. Next month, there will be six more issues. How grand will the finale be? Only a few can say, but as it rolls out to the general public, one can hope it snowballs into something epic.
So far, Bendis has gone counter, flipping the status quo on its head. The future, as bright as it is for many, has a few enemies in the form of a splinter X-Men group. The sides are many — the ones that want the classic X-Men to go back, those who want them to make up their own mind, and the different sets of X-Men in the future who know the outcome. By the looks of it, this X-Men vs. X-Men vs. X-Men story could easily wipe away the bad taste left by last year’s AvX.
And if this turns out worse? Well, there’s a few working at Marvel who know how this story goes, and it’s in their hands to make sure the present leads to a better future.
All-New X-Men #17 (2012)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils” Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Letters: Cory Petit