Spoilers for All-New X-Men #21
God Loves, Man Kills artist Brent Anderson is back for a special flashback scene, which is where the issue starts. It’s a great treat for X-Men fans, and it also builds the mystery of how Stryker has offspring with powers. I’m not usually a fan of mucking with the past, but it’s hard to argue with it in this title of all places. After the events of last issue, the Purifiers have the original X-Men from the past and Kitty all knocked out in their compound. They start debating what to do after one Purifier brings up the possibility that giving into their genocidal feelings here could do more harm than good if they kill them and cause a paradox, and they resolve to “call someone smart.” They string the X-Men up into an unholy bondage fest (seriously if that’s your thing, this is the issue for you) and wait for Dr. Monica Rappaccini of A.I.M. to weigh in. She agrees that they’d be out of their minds to risk tearing the whole fabric of reality, but that they could kill Kitty, after she takes some samples for biological experiments. I was kind of waiting to see that some of this debating was Jean doing like a mind control thing to buy them some time, but there wasn’t any evidence of that. They do eventually break out of their chains with their superpowers anyway, and do what they came to do – stomp some Purifiers. This whole time X-23 was being tortured with video of what happened during Avengers Arena, and when Cyclops finally breaks her free, well, she’s ready for that hug now. Kitty puts in a call to S.H.I.E.L.D., who would of course love some Purifier and A.I.M. prisoners, and with that the action basically ends.
The Brent Anderson drawn flashback is enough to make this more than just a standard issue and kind of a special event, and all around it’s a real smooth read. As far as the rest of the visual art, sure there are a couple of times you have to do a bit of a double take to tell what character it is with all the shadows, but I see so much torment, pain and confusion rendered so palpably, in a dark issue where even the heroes become ghastly visages.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5