All-New X-Men #13 begins with a frightful glimpse of what could be and what has already been.
The time-bending adventures of the original X-Men in this current series has shown the cast in a different light. Transplaneted from their original timeline, the team has come to grips with their futures while dealing with the current-time versions of themselves who are still alive.
Investigating claims they’ve teamed up with Mystique’s crew, Wolverine and the original X-Men investigate Resilient International, the site where Tony Stark’s money was stolen.
Mystique has led her team to various locations to make off with as much money as possible. The end goal: Pay off Hydra and buy the rights to Madripoor.
Before Madame Hydra and Mystique can settle on a deal, the X-Men literally drop in, kicking off a heated battle that gives Lady Mastermind her chance for revenge.
Issue #13 is a calm before the storm. While the team does detective work by following Mystique’s footprints, characters get a chance to voice opinions, discuss issues, and talk about what’s been going on. For that reason, it’s a heavier issue, and it almost seems like Brian Michael Bendis is using All-New X-Men as a commentary to discuss what’s going on in the other Marvel books.
Kitty Pryde and the team talk about Havok’s speech from Uncanny Avengers #8, and Pryde tells the team a personal story explaining her opposition to Havok’s proposal to do away with the “M-word.” It’s a moment that shows how complex the issue is — by revealing one character’s feelings and disagreements to an idea, Bendis shows how many divisions there are even within the same faction. With all of the real-life headlines involving a certain celebrity chef — one wonders if Bendis is using the title to commentate on current events or at least start a discussion.
Regardless, Bendis approaches the subject matter with tact, and there’s also a scene involving Jean where she discusses failure and the immense pressure she feels to stay alive. It’s realistic and natural, and it increases tension — if Jean didn’t have a reason for embracing the Phoenix before, the path for that direction is clearer now, though the complexities are also evident. Grey’s grasping for control is a tendency many adolescents can sympathize with. Ironically, it may also lead her to towards the Phoenix rather than away from it.
For all of its seriousness, All-New X-Men #13 does have humor, and it seems like Bendis is having a great time writing young Iceman. As the team’s chatterbox, Iceman is the young boy constantly asking, “Why? Why?” Though he’s not an omega-level mutant yet, he does show off some of his skills and some of that upper-echelon type of superpowers.
Because it’s a dramatic issue filled with talking bubbles, the art team gets to focus more on expression, posturing, and getting the right tone down to reflect what’s going on. Stuart Immonen’s pencils look polished, and his characters’ expressions — though they might seem a little exaggerated at times — do well in conveying what the characters feel with some humor for good measure. The one gripe would be Immonen’s depiction of Madame Hydra who comes across as the least intimidating figure this issue — even the security guards under Jean Grey’s control give off the impression they can be dangerous.
Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks are clear and sharp. Characters have separation from the background, and the artwork is easy to look at. Rain Beredo’s colors liven up the pages with shadows and tones that give the art more dimensions.
The issue ends the way it began — Jean Grey on fire as the team looks on in fear. But are things exactly what they seem? It’s been an eventful run so far for the classic X-Men, and things haven’t been as they seemed.
Still, no matter how many things go unnoticed or how many sleigh of hand tricks are pulled, one thing seems to be true: things look like they’re heating up.
Just in time for summer.
All-New X-Men #13 (2012)
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Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Cory Petit