Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Mahmud Asrar, Andrea Sorrentino (cover) / Marvel Comics
With the end of Brian Bendis’ run on the X-Men franchise so close, he’s decided to pull sort of a lateral move lately (especially in Uncanny) and tell somewhat intimate stories that are more character based, tying off more of the personal loose ends among the team. Now, we’ve reached the penultimate issue of All New X-Men. Can Bendis manage to set us up for an appropriate ending with such awkward time constraints?
This week’s issue serves mainly as an epilogue to the “Black Vortex” team-up saga with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Original X-Men are all reunited and back home on solid ground, relaxing after saving the galaxy. Although Bendis takes the beginning and end of the book to set up a new threat (good luck if he’s going to wrap that one up for the finale), the lion’s share is dedicated to putting a nice bow on a couple hanging issues within the group… including one the media basically spoiled earlier in the week. Even though there’s not much use talking about it here now, I will say that it does a good job of conveying the idea Bendis has had from the beginning that the Original Five, at this point, should be considered their own individual characters (hence the “All New”). The interaction that didn’t get as much press, but managed to be just as engaging was Angel and X-23. The rationale for his choice to remain in her Black Vortex form is a reasonable, well scripted moment that adds flavor to this couple that I’ve found particularly charming and engaging from the start. Mahmud Asrar is still a noticeable departure from Stuart Immonen, Sara Pichelli or David Marquez but has managed to do a good job of maintaining their overall aesthetic as the usual artist on this book. I wish his facial expressions were as tight as his action beats but he’s improved in enough aspects to where it can be said that he’s doing a perfectly serviceable job.
Bottom Line: Doesn’t feel like the second to last issue, but Bendis and Asrar do enough of what they do best still make it a great read. 8 out of 10.