In his zealous attempts to bring the Phoenix to justice, Gladiator has bitten off way more than he can chew. After kidnapping the young Jean Grey and putting her front and center in front of the known universe, Gladiator finds his own motivations are on trial when J’son of Spartax appears.
It’s then that J’son recounts how Gladiator had all of Jean’s family killed because of a theory that the Phoenix Force was attracted to the Grey genealogy.
J’son also makes a valid statement — having killed her family, has Gladiator only given the yet-to-be Phoenix a reason for revenge?
It’s this last quarter of the issue that really gets the blood flowing.
The hijacked ship lands in a mass of rubble, and Rocket Raccoon fires the first shots in an epic battle between the Shi’ar Imperial Guard led by Gladiator and the Jean Grey rescue squad.
A terse battle ends with a sort of stalemate when Jean appears and tells everyone, “You’re right. I am guilty. I am a monster.”
Well, that escalated quickly.
I take back what I said in the review for the last Guardians of the Galaxy issue when I questioned whether two issues were enough to complete this story. All-New X-Men #24 is a great chapter to set up the final issue before a double-sized issue celebrating an all-star jam. If that means an epilogue or something to set up young Scott Summers’ adventures with his father Corsair, then it looks like Brian Michael Bendis and company have it all planned out.
One issue away from the finale, we get more setup and a lot of complicated conflicts that really play around with the X-Men continuity. J’son pointing out the backwards logic in Gladiator’s preemptive trial only sets up what looks like a devastating attack by Jean who’s showing signs she may be connecting with the Phoenix.
But isn’t the Phoenix dead, wished away by Hope during AvX?
I’m excited to think of a possibility when present Hank McCoy realizes he didn’t just bring back the classic X-Men — he revived one of the most powerful forces in the universe.
Bendis is on point with great pointed dialogue, a plot that works down to the hijacking of the Shi’ar ship that shows how capable Angela is on combat, and a bit of that trademark humor.
Stuart Immonen’s pencils are fantastic, if not just for the characters and designs, but the cinematic compositions in each panel. Producers and directors, take notice — this is how the X-Men movies should look and feel.
Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks do much for the feel — the dramatic shadows and the distinct lines that makes everything you see visually discernible. Marte Gracia’s colors also do an amazing job of creating atmosphere with emotional prompts. There’s the coldness of space, and the sunset over a destroyed Shi’ar city.
All of this solidifies All-New X-Men’s place in Marvel’s monthly catalogue, and anyone who bemoaned the creation of the title should give it a chance. After 24 solid issues of deconstructing the X-Universe and breathing life into this generation’s stories, Bendis has created a fine legacy as the present X-Father. The stories act both as a tribute and groundbreaking history for the X-Men canon, and the direction it’s going in could provide for some amazing stories to stand alongside Claremont and Byrne’s on the X-Men shelf.
Previous Issue in Story Arc: Guardians of the Galaxy #12 Review
Previous Issue: All-New X-Men #23 Review