All-New X-Men #36 Review
Ultimate Dr. Doom’s energy blast sure has a lot of kick.

All-New X-Men #35 ended just as Miles Morales launched a sudden attack on Doom only to be countered by a devastating blast.

Issue #36 continues from that super-ultra-combo finisher with a double-page spread of the Doctor surveying his victory. Two sets of X-Men and an Ultimate Spider-Man have been beaten, and Doom’s first act as champion is unmasking Morales.

With Miles’ secret out in the open, Doom threatens to end Spider-Man’s life. But before he can do that, Jean Grey distracts him long enough to psychically wake up her friends. Round two ends just as quickly as it starts with Kitty Pryde attempting to destroy Doom’s armor with her phasing ability. Doom self-destructs, leaving his headquarters wide open for a riot led by one really ticked-off Hank McCoy.

Now that the All-New X-Men, the Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Spider-Man have basically won Earth-1610, the only thing left to do is get the Earth-616 kids back home.

Conveniently, the mutant with teleporting powers that started this whole arc appears in their midst and does just that.

So ends this chapter of All-New X-Men, and while it all seems pretty cut and dry, I’m just really glad it’s over. This was probably my least favorite arc of the entire series, and now that it’s said and done — I’m not sure that the last four issues added anything to the mix. Anyone who had missed issues #32-36 could be filled in with a quick synopsis.

The All-New X-Men were teleported to the Ultimate Universe. They fought Dr. Doom. They came home.

We get a few glimpses of alternate universes that might be a precursor to Battleworld, but the arc as a whole was a listless journey through a comparable Earth with very little progression or development for the main story arc or the characters. The only real end result is an angry Hank McCoy who decides it’s time to change the world. The problem I have with that is — McCoy spends the least amount of time out and about on Earth-1610. After landing on a beach, he spends most of the arc in Doom’s house and laboratory.

The prospect of having Miles and the Ultimate X-Men on tap at the beginning of the arc seemed to suggest some major plot points, but All-New X-Men #36 doesn’t even manage to produce any real sparks. Brian Michael Bendis has left a lot on the table for this throwaway side-mission, and there’s a real lack of force that’s permeated the past few issues.

On the art side, All-New X-Men looks good if not great. Mahmud Asrar excels in his action panels with some very epic big-picture stuff, like Jean’s standoff with Doom or the moments leading up to Doom’s headquarters getting destroyed. During conversational frames, the artwork begins to suffer. Facial expressions lack life, and the dearth of detail irons out the pages, making the panels look really flat.

Marte Gracia’s colors are high-contrast and bold, adding some dimension to the faces through shading. I like Gracia’s reds which are un-apologetically bright, and his lighting is top notch.

I’m ready to move on from this arc to the next. With all that’s been announced, I get the feeling like the X-Books are starting to enter another gear. My expectations are tempered, however, due to so many of the arcs ending on disappointing notes. The problem is not so much with the conclusion — it’s how the entire story fails to live up to its promises. With issue after issue leading us down a road that constantly reminds us of the scenery, even a couple of beautiful sunsets are not enough. Fans want to see plot points dealt with, and there’s a lot fluttering around in the wind, and we’re about to pull up into the parking lot any minute now.

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All-New X-Men #20 Review

www.hypergeeky.comLaura Kinney — Wolverine’s genetic clone — wakes up in her birthplace, the new home of the classic X-Men who have joined forces with Cyclops’ Uncanny X-Men team.

Waking up in Weapon X, the facility that created her, immediately puts X-23 into a defensive mode, and it doesn’t help that her senses tell her she’s with familiar but younger-looking faces.

Young Scott Summers takes the initiative to reach out to the startled Kinney, and his calm and cool demeanor keeps the volatile situation from getting further out of hand. Kinney would rather keep the details of her troubled past in the dark while taking her anger out on the Purifiers — the zealots the X-Men rescued Laura from last issue.

Returning to Florida for an attack on the Purifiers’ compound reveals the organization is led by William Stryker’s son. Just as the X-Men are about to claim another victory, Stryker unleashes a blast that leaves everyone in the room stunned.

The irony isn’t lost here — Stryker’s mission to rid the world of mutants possibly stems from the fact he himself is one. Papa Stryker will go down in history as one of the X-Men’s top villains, and for the classic X-Men who’ve yet to come face to face with him, their first battle with the Strykers happens here and now with the William’s progeny.

That Brian Michael Bendis would create villains related to villains that would factor later/earlier into the X-Men’s story shows the field’s wide open for interesting conflicts. Bendis gets to play within a vast sandbox filled with history, characters, and plotlines weaving in time through twists and turns.

Add to that the awesomely ironic and budding romance between young Scott and Laura, a relationship that makes the already awkward situation between Summers and Jean Grey all the more complicated. It also adds a new perspective on Cyclops’ relationship with Wolverine, and the story has gained a new and interesting dimension that will hopefully be played up as the story progresses.

The revolving door of artists continues to turn with Brandon Peterson covering the second half of the book. Mahmud Asrar joins the creative team with an art style that’s closer to Stuart Immonen’s. Asrar’s doe-eyed characters are attractive and expressive, playing a huge part in getting the point and tone across for Kinney and Summers’ first interaction. Scott’s hug looks natural, effectively bringing back haunting adolescent memories, and Asrar gets the credit for getting it right.

Peterson gets to draw the action-heavy second act, and though his young X-Men characters still look too old, the panels don’t lack for detail. Each panel is filled with cinematic compositions that really go above and beyond. Peterson took his time with the artwork, and it shows with the amount of work put forth in these pages.

Not to be outdone or ignored, Israel Silva and Marte Gracia’s colors look beautiful. Each page pops with color, and the shades add muscle tone along with facial highlights that add to the characters’ facial expressions. The concerted efforts between the members of the creative team form another solid book to the title.

Where the story goes from here remains to be seen, though the cover may provide the biggest hint of things to come. With X-23 joining the X-Men ranks, the X-Universe has added another great character to its ongoing story, and it’s an addition that adds intrigue to go along with that teenage drama.

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