All-New X-Men #1
By Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger
Children of the atom… the next stage in evolution… hated and feared by those they have sworn to protect… The X-Men started as a progressive group of teens led by the eccentric psychic Charles Xavier. His mission was to train the teens to use their abilities and overcome the fear of rejection for being different. The goal was one of integration, but over the years the team became a safe haven from the violence of humanity. The school also got blown up… a lot. The team shifted focus several times and when the future of the mutant population became tenuous and Professor Xavier was murdered, team leader Cyclops relocated the survivors to the sovereign nation of Utopia. A militaristic approach grew fanatical when the Phoenix Force was spotted on its way to Earth. Most saw destruction, but Cyclops saw salvation and a new lease on life for mutants everywhere. In the ensuing carnage, Cyclops led a small group of followers against the rest of the super-powered population.
Possessed by the Phoenix Force, Cyclops killed his former mentor Professor X and was defeated. The dispersal of the Phoenix energy jump-started a revival of the mutant gene. Rather than see the error of his ways, Cyclops believes this event to be a justification for his actions. No longer a minority, mutants stand a chance of surviving, if properly focused and led.
Fresh off of a record-breaking run on several Avengers series, writer Brian Michael Bendis will be taking over the X-Men family with a pair of monthly books that will operate in much the same way that his Avengers books did. To start things off, the Beast is mutating further, Cyclops has reinvented himself as a mutant terrorist alongside Emma Frost, Magneto and Magick, recruiting mutants who find themselves confused by their new found abilities. The X-Men must stop him, but given that force has proven to be useless, what can they do?
Beast is inspired by a throwaway statement from Iceman that leads him back in time when he encounters the original X-Men. By bringing them to the present day, he hopes that young Cyclops can talk some sense into his modern-day counterpart. It’s a mad idea, but given the single-mindedness of Cyclops’ actions and the level of destruction that the Avengers/X-Men scrap left, the options are slim. I always like the X-Men when their backs are against the wall, but placing them in such a unique position where they face a future created by one of their own where mutants are tyrants is ingenious. Bringing the X-Men of the past into the mix is even more interesting.
In an interview with Newsarama, Brian Michael Bendis gave some insight into his influences regarding the X-Men and some assurances that he is not about to ‘disassemble’ the X-Men.
Bendis: I’m not blowing up the mansion or anything like that. I came in [Avengers], “I’m gonna blow up the mansion, and go crazy!” and some people really loved that, and some people were like, “Whoa, whoa!” It was tantamount to someone going on the playground and just knocking over your toys. You’re like, “I liked my toys, why are you doing this?” I didn’t see it that way at the time, but in retrospect — I wouldn’t have changed the story or anything, but I was shocked by some of the reaction, and then I went, “Oh, no, I get that. I literally just blew up the house on page three.”
What I am doing here is, I think, as big, but not as destructive. I think it’s additive, I think it’s emotional and dramatic. This idea has been floating through the Marvel retreats for a couple of years. Both [Jeph] Loeb and I would be looking at each other going, “That’s a great idea.” It never stuck to the wall. I literally asked Axel, “Where did that idea start?” It just inspired so many story ideas to me.
Nrama: So the high concept of the original X-Men traveling into the present has been around for a while?
Bendis: Yeah. I’m a big fan of “Days of Future Past.” I think it’s one of the greatest imagination-inspiring storylines — the idea that your future is going to be hell on earth. If the original X-Men saw what was going on at Marvel today, this is worse than “Days of Future Past.”
Fans always say, “Oh, I wish Stan Lee was still in charge, things would be different.” Joe [Quesada] would point out that that’s not true. Stan was changing the Marvel Universe so quickly, much quicker than we do. Tearing up tracks, switching the Avengers, and blowing up the X-Men, and he was the first guy to do this. If Stan Lee was still in charge, you wouldn’t even recognize the Marvel Universe. So that idea inspired, “what would it feel like if characters from the Silver Age saw the Marvel Universe today?” I did a little bit of it in Avengers, in the Kang storyline. It’s obviously inspired a couple ideas in my work.
There’s something about Jean Grey, there’s something about those original five being such idealists, coming here and seeing what those ideals turned into for good or bad, and deciding to fight for them. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Inside that idea is a bunch of different ideas. The idea itself is the headline-grabber, but what people have to look forward to inside the story is much more. It’s a much more emotional story involving all of the X-Men, and that’s what’s going to be coming in future issues.
I was very wary of seeing yet another drastic shift in the X-Men after so many attempts have been made to make sense of this series going all the way back to the Grant Morrison E is for Evolution run. It seems to be a difficult concept for writers to figure out and the massive cast of characters is daunting. However, Bendis seems to be onto something by using the progress already made with Cyclops and having him come full circle as the leader of a Brotherhood of Mutants-style gang.
The art style is very slick and I hope that Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger are here to stay. Along with the lack of focus over the past few years (of admittedly great stories), a regular art team has been sorely missed. I have my fingers crossed that after a very smart and powerful first issue, we are in store for a major revival in the popularity and success of the X-Men.
All-New X-Men and its sister book Uncanny X-Men will be coming out bi-weekly for the foreseeable future, so this could be a great time to be an X-fan.