So I don’t know how long this present arc is going to be going on, but damn it’s actually been a really fun read. For one I was incredibly skeptical about anything that would tie into Marvel’s Secret Empire event, hoping that it didn’t seep its tentacles into everything in the Marvel Universe. So far that’s not been the case, and we’ve heard basically nothing about the event other than the fact that it is happening.
Yet, most importantly is that Cullen Bunn has finally embraced tradition and gone back to arc style of writing. Not saying that what he was doing preceding these last three issues was a bad thing, but we now have an actual overarching storyline with some really good structure.
The last time we saw the X-Men our team was split into two separate groups and reeling after a crippling defeat. Jean and Jimmy were presumed dead after they were able to keep themselves off the radar, and the rest of the team was taken back to Utopia; Scott himself was receiving a mental recondition by the White Queen herself, who still happens to be in love with the Scott Summers who had recently died. Jean and Hank prepared for an assault to save their friends but were met some pretty heavy resistance including the vastly overpowered Havok. Yet, just when hope began to dwindle, Magneto, purposely yet stealthily delivered not only an AI of their ship in a humanoid for but his own exceptionally powerful daughter, Polaris.
Keep Your Friends Close
The issue opens brilliantly as we get a moment to remind us of the dire situations that our mutant heroes currently find themselves in, especially poor Scott who is mentally being broken down by Emma Frost. The focus then quickly shifts back over to the fantastic fight between Polaris and Havok, as Lorna tries to convince her former lover to see reason. Yet with how powerful she is for now, she can only keep him at bay and buy time for Jean and Jimmy to find their friends. Though it seems new life is born into her convictions after Alex Summers tries to attack her emotionally, it’s the classic tradition of talking way too much while fighting, but yet it’s oh so enjoyable.
Jean and Jimmy still have the creepy as hell Hellfire Club grunts to contend with but they’re made short work of and our team is finally reunited, except of course for Cyclops who is still being held personally by Emma Frost. We get some truly witty dialogue full of jokes and quips while the team works to track down Scott. Polaris finally deals an ending blow to Alex, changing her objective to keeping the newly enhanced mutants from hindering the X-Men. Polaris eventually stops toying around with her ex and finishes him off while the team also runs back into Briar who is suspiciously in the most comfortable prison anyone can hope for, yet something even darker is coming their way after both teams meet up again.
The Fall of the White Queen
The conflict reaches its climax when Emma Frost appears with her most sinister weapon yet: Scott Summers. Clearly Emma’s supposed love for him is so strong that she was able to actually break into his mind and influence his thoughts. Cyclops has always been considered one of the strongest mutants, along with a brainwashed Xorn as well; this is one fight that they may not be able to win. What was really significant about this moment also is that we now know that Emma is actually controlling the founding members of New Tian, whether it was for this whole time is not revealed but it does raise a lot of implications.
The fight itself is quite savage since some of the strongest mutants duke it out while Jean tries to release Scott from the influence of the powerful Emma Frost. We see just how desperate she is by how she used the pressure of being a young Cyclops in a world where he’s overshadowed by both benevolently good versions of himself and horribly evil ones. She has him quite convinced he’s the elder version of himself, that Jean is dead, and all he’s seeing is an illusion. Slowly but surely his personality is reverting to this alter persona and Jean uses the only thing in her arsenal that can break the connection…playing Emma at her own game. She attacks the White Queen’s emotional instability in order to break her concentration.
By the end of the issue we’ve learned a number of important things. First, we now know that some special item that’s in Emma’s possession is making her stronger—which is scary because she is pretty powerful to begin with—that being a fragment of a cosmic cube. New Tian hasn’t much time left in existence, but she’s not going down so easily. With Bastion and Miss Sinister now in league with her, whether under her control or not remains to be seen, she’s moving forward with some plan called “Mothervine.”
There’s also an interesting bit where we discover that there’s a completely open connection between Scott and Jeans minds; that should be interesting. My favorite part though was the tête-à-tête between Magneto and Captain America, which I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it is. This is why you don’t fuck with Magneto, Cap’n.
Man was the use of color one of my absolute favorite things about this book, as well the arc as a whole. The cover itself using the overhauling motif of the green in Polaris’s costume is gorgeous to look at, and the many fight sequences in this book just scream vividness and variety that complement the detail in the drawing to perfection. It really is hard to even think of more and more things to say well about the four artists on work in this issue, but with these four, quantity is quality.
This was a great finale to this storyline, even though it was only a short three issues, it was infinitely better than any other tie-in out right now. While I’m indifferent to Secret Empire finally being over, I’ll miss what this great trilogy had to offer and only look forward to finding out the ramifications its events. The White Queen is far from defeated and she’s got some new people to do her bidding, so things are only going to get difficult for the X-Men.
I want more Magneto though, he’s been playing in the sidelines for too long and it’s time to finally see what plans he truly has set for Jean and her team.
Final Score: 10/10
X-Men Blue #9 Credits
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Cory Smith and Thony Silas
Colorists: Matt Milla & Irma Kniivilla
Letters: Joe Caramagna
All Images Courtesy of Marvel