Friday, April 19, 2024

Mistrust is in the air for the X-Men

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X-Men Blue’s debut sparked the wick that I feel will burn for a long time. It gave all the necessities seen in the first act of a play: the characters, the setting, and the tone. All that was missing was the overall plot, which can be forgiven since it was not only the start of an arc, but the start of an entire series. While last time did give us the start of something that could be the plot, it isn’t until this issue that we fully take in what’s actually going on.

What we are left with in issue #1 is questions, lots of questions that thankfully aren’t dodged, but rather elaborated on and drown out. The biggest of these is whether Magneto can truly be trusted or not and how he convinced Jean to trust him—this is not even given his recent history in Uncanny X-Men, but rather his character as a whole. He’s known not only for being exploitative but extremely manipulative. This issue goes deep into that question and leaves us asking more, talk about answering a question with questions eh? A few other minor things were present as well: why did they leave when Kitty Pryde took over? Where did Hanks new powers come from and what is the Hellfire up to that Magneto wants them taken out so bad? Why is Jimmy Hudson in this universe?

In the last issue of X-Men Blue we saw all of our time displaced X-Men head up a fight against a rejected Hellfire Club member with the help of the unstoppable Juggernaut. While this fight didn’t offer much in terms of the overall arc, we got to see the new team of old faces in action and some with new powers, like Hank and his new magic powers and Angels “new” wings. Yet what was most enjoyable was seeing Jean Grey in her leadership role. By the end of the comic we learn that Magneto has taken up Xavier’s role as mentor but it looks like he has an agenda of his own, one that involves the Hellfire Club. In a post scene we also see the return of the son of Wolverine, Jimmy Hudson and his fight with a Wendigo. Yet its relevance is still a mystery.

Old enemies, new allies

Alright, let’s tackle Magneto. At the start of this comic Jean Grey brings up exactly what we expect her to—it’s even more significant that it’s coming from considering the time she was pulled from. Classic X-Men’s number one villain was Magneto. As she mentions, he tried to kill them on several occasions and it’s not a distant memory; for them it’s like yesterday.

At the start of the issue we get a nice prologue of Jean and Magneto sometime before the start of ResurreXion. Obviously she doesn’t trust given her recent history, before being sent to the future. It takes lot to convince Jean, even so far as Magneto letting her into his head, taking off his iconic helmet.

Throughout this book we keep going back to this scene, considering each time we see it, they end up leaving us with a cliffhanger sort of moment, but by the end we get to peer into Magnetos mind with Jean. Though we already know what dark secrets his past holds, Jean doesn’t. As she walks through the maze of his mind, with some beautiful scenery at that, Jean finally sees the secret that very few mutants other than Xavier knew. Whether it was by seeing this revelation or the fact that he even let her in, she gives him the benefit of the doubt; for if anything is true about Magneto, he does want peace. Yet, what price will he be willing to pay for it, or rather what price will he let the X-Men pay?



Present Imperfect

If there is one thing we constantly have to keep in mind while reading this comic is that Jean Grey and her team are teenagers. Unlike X- Men Golds team under Kitty Pryde who are all adult and seasoned mutants. While they are all close with one another secrets are still abound. Less secretive but more a constant suspicion is of course Magneto’s involvement with the X-Men. While Jean sort of trusts him the other team doesn’t feel the same way. Again, showing off her great leadership skills, Jean actually treats this suspicion with some caution. The team still uses the danger room to practice fighting a mutant as a strong as Magneto, with less than pleasing results. Even as a hologram he’s too powerful for them which is concerning considering at any given time they could be at his whim.

Of course Magneto isn’t their only problem. Within this training, one member was noticeably missing. If you remember the last issue, Hank revealed that he had obtained certain magical and mystical powers. Where he got them from is still a mystery, but their use was very condemned by Cyclopes. Hank does have a point at being equally angry at Scott: they are mutants and have powers to begin with. So it is no surprise Hank becomes antisocial and moody when Scott questions why he’s not in training. It’s also clear that Hank is hiding something too; his little monologue after Scott and him talk is more than alarming.

Hank is doing under his breath villain thing

By the last few pages of the comic, we are torn again on Magneto. Not only do we see Jean enter his memory but he does something really sneaky. He sends the team to fight their age old enemies, the sentinels. While the actual fight looks like it’s reserved for the next issue, it’s the questions that make it so significant. Why are the Sentinels attacking and why does this timing work perfectly for Magneto’s ending? He basically incriminates himself to us readers by showing that he’s planning a way to send Jean and her team back to their own time. While they may want that, the question is why he wants to send them back?

The Art

Wow they went all out this time around. I know last time I was slightly critical on the art, but it looks like the artists noticed this as well. This was an amazing improvement, way better shading, more dark colors to make it look less cartoonish and more, dare I say…gritty?

What I loved especially were the suspended reality bits; the danger room fight and Jean inside Magnetos mind. The colors used in the Nazi camp scene were especially grim and pale giving off the tone of hopelessness and despair, but also at the same time anger.


Final Thoughts

This was a sequel that was a worthy successor to the first, and in a lot of ways, even better. Tensions run high between the X-Men and Magneto and even among themselves making the drama at an all time high while not sacrificing plot or action. As with the last issue, new questions are asked as old ones are answered, though not completely. This series is already fulfilling the promises made by the reintroduction to the X-Men universe and I honestly cannot wait until the next issue to see what Magneto is truly up to.

Final Score: 9/10

Writer: Cullen Bunn

Artists: Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni

Colors: Matt Milla

Letters: Joe Caramagna

Images Courtesy Of Marvel Comics

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