Well, for one thing the writing is back on form after I expressed some concerns with last issue’s inconsistencies. It appears that modern Cyclops has regained some degree of control over his optic blasts, although they are still accompanied by a wild ‘overspill’ of energy from his visor. As for the two characters that I was concerned about, Emma and Magik, Magik barely appears, and Emma seems much more in line with her old self. In terms of story and pacing, we’re really seeing this story starting to crank up. There are moments in this issue where Bendis puts the brakes on his usual motormouth dialogue and lets Immonen tell a visual story. But not enough. The issue is plagued by masses of word balloons. If you like Bendis’ wordy style, which I personally do, then that’s fine. However, if you don’t, there’s a ton of words to plow through. That’s not to say the any of it is meaningless. Far from it. Everything here is moving the story forward. We’re finally going somewhere. Although not quite fast enough for my tastes.
There’s a lot to like here. Bendis is telling a good story, but he’s not telling it anywhere near fast enough. I like a lot about this issue, but I just don’t feel like I’m getting enough bang for my buck here. Yes, it’s double shipping, but it’s also $3.99. If this was a $2.99 book, I would have no problem with it taking it’s sweet time. but it isn’t, is it? Bendis decompressed storytelling is great for trades and collections, but following it in single issues just feels like I’m being short changed somehow, especially when it’s been double shipping for two months. I’m feeling this more and more now with mainstream comics, but the Bendis style of narrative brings it into sharper focus. But the value proposition of a $3.99 book is not really a comment on it’s quality, so let’s get back to some of the more artistic aspects, shall we?
Stuart Immonen’s art remains gorgeous, the mood of each page and panel created masterfully by a brilliant use of shadows. There are some truly gorgeous splash pages, particularly the incredible spread of both Cyclops letting loose their optic blasts. All the characters are rendered beautifully, and I particularly like the contrast between our more rugged, heavier built Cyclops and his wild optic blasts, and the lean, neat precision of the younger Scott. The art team on this book is top notch, regardless of any other issues I have with the book.
This issue also picks up on the emergence of Jean Grey’s telepathy, which leads to some interesting scenes of her being bombarded by the thoughts of those around her. We also are briefly re-introduced to Cyclops’ two new recruits, who I assume will be getting more page time from here on in, as we get into the meat of the new Mutant Reveolution and the X-Men’s own mini Civil War. There’s lots going on here, it’s just all happening simultaneously as opposed to moving forward at anything resembling an appropriate speed.
So, ideally I’d like to see the momentum pick up on this book going forward, but this is an improvement on last issue, which I felt was a little bit of a misstep for the series. I like my stories told properly, not necessarily quickly, but this is a little slow even for my tastes. Hopefully my faith in Bendis will be rewarded despite his relaxed pace, and as long as Immonen is rendering it, I’ll be on board. I just wish we were getting a little more for our money with each issue.