Review: ALL-NEW X-MEN #26

ALL-NEW X-MEN #26
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Stuart Immonen
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 30, 2014

ANXMEN2012026_D2C11Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen bring the ‘kids’ back to base in the aftermath of The Trial of Jean Grey and they give readers some excellent character-focused work in All-New X-Men #26.

This comic is all about the tumultuous, emotional journey these young X-Men are going through and, after the crossover event with Guardians of the Galaxy, Bendis plays it cool and slows things down in this issue. Jean Grey really is the star of this issue and Bendis gives fans a wonderful conversation with between her and the adult Cyclops. He handles the two characters extremely well, with the compassion of pre-AvX Scott Summers on full display. The confusion of Jean, who is being put through massive mental trauma in this series, is obvious and Bendis handles it with great care. This isn’t a high-octane comic, by any means, but ANXM is all about the classic characters in the new Marvel U and that is what readers get in this issue. Bendis adds some solid humour to the script with lunchroom scenes and his handling of the “young Scott has gone into space now” situation, and all of the ripples it has caused, is very well done. Each of the X-Men, including their prof, are dealing with young Scott’s decision in a completely different way, and it was very interesting to get a peek at each of their coping mechanisms. Bendis is so in tune with these characters that he is really defining the classic X-Men in a new way, with personalities that are unique yet respectful of the roots of these characters. With the events of the Trial, Jean became a character that is stepping out of the shadow of…herself and Bendis is doing a great job of letting the saga of this group unfold at it’s own speed. Nothing is rushed or forced in this comic (which some may consider pacing that is too slow), but I know for sure I care about these characters much more than I thought I would 26 issues ago. The cliffhanger for the issue certainly alludes to much action to come, so this slower issue reads like the right fit to bridge the gap between the trial and what is on the horizon.

With all emotion discussed, the artwork has to sell it to make the story fly. Stuart Immonen sells it. His penciling is some of the strongest in comics today, and he handles these characters so well. The subtle emotional cues for each of the characters in this issue are fantastic, with their demeanor and expressions telling as much story as the dialogue ever could. He and Bendis are telling a very character driven tale, and Immonen sells the emotions of these characters like no one else can. His layouts throughout the issue are fantastic, keeping this comic visually dynamic throughout the dialogue-heavy sections, and his work with Angel captures the feeling of freedom only his character can experience so very well. Immonen’s characters can say a hundred words with a glance, and his work elevates Bendis’ words to whole new levels in this comic. The colour work by Marte Gracia makes Immonen’s pencils leap from the page. Gracia’s colour work gives the characters real presence on the page, distinguishing them from the background and really driving the eye toward them. They are the focus of this comic and they are impossible to ignore. His work suits Immonen’s style very well, and the team is working very well together.

All-New X-Men #26 isn’t the biggest blockbuster of an issue in the series yet, but it is a great look at these characters in the wake of The Trial of Jean Grey. There has been a fundamental shift in the status quo, and one hell of a brawl coming, so this issue acts as a nice bridge between what looks to be two high impact storylines. Bendis and Immonen are a rock solid team delivering a solid story and fans of this series to this point will feel right at home with issue #26 of Marvel’s flagship X-book.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

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