[Comic Review] What If — All-New X-Men #25

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Some people stay awake, dreaming of ways to change the future.

Hank McCoy can’t figure out how to change the past.

On one particular sleepless night, the mutant known as Beast is paid a visit by a mysterious figure who gives McCoy a glimpse of all the futures to come and the ones never to be.

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It’s a brutal sort of guilt trip seemingly meant to make McCoy repent, and when we finally get to see who this mysterious visitor is, we’re thrown for a bit of a loop thanks to the circumstances of it all.

All-New X-Men #25 feels like a turning point for the series, especially with the Original Sin crossover coming soon. For months, Marvel’s advertised the death of Uatu, the first and most famous Watcher, and it would seem one of the last things the cosmic being does is, well, interfere. Not that the Watcher does anything explicitly helpful in the way of giving McCoy an answer for his most compelling conundrum — but the Watcher, by being present, gives Beast a new perspective.

It also gives Marvel a chance to follow in Harley Quinn #0’s footsteps by loading the book up with artists. There’s Bruce Timm’s depiction of Jean Grey’s future — one in which she grasps her immense power to rule humanity. Skottie Young’s Iceman deals with his Omega-level powers, and Kent William’s Emma Frost succumbs to the wicked thoughts of every person on Earth.

The guest-drawn pages have a lot of impact, but things get a little abstract in the issue’s second act when the Watcher presumes to talk about the good that could come out of the time-altering changes.

Instead, McCoy gets a mental whipping with all of the good futures wiped off the board. The artwork in this section takes a much different tone — the Kitty Pryde and Peter Rasputin pages by Maris Wicks retells their love story like a parody with an unforeseen-until-now bittersweet ending. Following that is a section titled Scott and Logan BFFs Forever!, an Odd-Couple sort of tale set in the rivals’ elder years. There’s also a look at what life would be like for Logan if he ever married Jean Grey. Living under the same roof with a woman who can read your thoughts doesn’t exactly resemble happily ever after.

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The stories in the second half feel a little out of place within the atmospheric context of the issue’s story, though they’re pretty entertaining. The satirical and lighthearted feel could be meant to diffuse the heaviness of the situation because the overall purpose of Uatu’s visit seems very heavy-handed, especially in his parting words which denounce McCoy for his well-meaning but misguided attempt to fix his friends. But as the saying goes, when you point at someone, four fingers point right back at you. Seeing as how the Dreaming Celestial noted that Uatu has interfered about 400 times, it seems a little hypocritical that the Watcher doesn’t feel the slightest bit of empathy.

All of these circumstances — the appearance of Uatu before his advertised death, the overly harsh words that seem a little out of character considering the similarities, and the All-New X-Men title bringing it back to the one who started the mess in the first place — look like something else is in the works, and it’s possible the Watcher is once again deliberately interfering, this time by influencing McCoy through conscience and reasoning.

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All of that makes All-New X-Men #25 feel like a break — or a calm before the inevitable storm. It’s not an easy break like a vacation. The issue is heavily geared towards breaking down the blue scientist’s walls. Hank McCoy finally gets his chapter in the All-New X-Men saga that puts all of his motives, hopes, and fears on trial in a public court of readership.

And what will readers say about him now?

Originally intending to change the future by showing Scott Summers his past, McCoy now sees how far things have spiraled out of his control. And for all that’s happened as a result, Beast denies any guilt laid upon him because his motives — at least to himself — were pure. In his mind, Hank thinks he can fix the issue, and then all will be righted. 

Unfortunately, McCoy doesn’t see the arrogance and self-righteousness of it all — even after his meeting with Uatu. Given another situation, Hank might once again repeat the same mistake, and that highlights the contrast between himself and Cyclops. The latter has gone through some unique changes in response to past actions while the former stubbornly sticks to his motives in the face of tremendous consequences.

Well-worn is the phrase Cyclops is right.

It’s now replaced by a new one.

Beast is wrong.


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All-New X-Men #25 (2013)
[usr 4]
Marvel
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: David Marquez, Justin Ponsor, Bruce Timm, Arthur Adams, David Mack, Skottie Young, Jason Keith, Robbi Rodriguez, Lee Bermejo, Marte Gracia, Kent Williams, JG Jones, Ronnie Del Carmen, J. Scott Campbell, Nei Ruffino, Maris Wicks, Jason Shiga, Dan Hipp, Max Wittert, Jake Parker, Matthew Wilson, Jill Thompson, Paul Smith, Bob Wiacek, and Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Cory Petit

Previous Issue: All-New X-Men #24 Review
Next Issue: All-New X-Men #26 Review

Buy All-New X-Men #25 from Things From Another World!

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