Although always high profile, few issues in writer Brian Michael Bendis’s turn on the X-franchise have gotten this much attention. From the months of mysterious whisperings regarding the “Utopians” to the pre-release controversy earlier this week, this is indeed one that has everyone talking. How much of it is wholly warranted? That may be another matter entirely.
The cover is a good place to start. Artist Andrea Sorrentino and color artist Marcelo Maiolo’s simple depiction of the X-Men’s former island home is both serene and eery. It’s too bad Marvel’s reportedly frowning on X-merch these days, as this is yet another fantastic t-shirt design waiting to happen.
Funky, distended logo aside, revealing the “mystery of the Utopians” isn’t exactly square with what happens inside, per solicit. Sure, it’s an interesting twist generating a truckload of questions surrounding their origin but so far, it’s all sizzle with little steak. The best part of this cover-featuring subplot is actually Maria Hill losing her mind Dirk Anger-style over mutant shenanigans. The Nextwave reference will not be lost for some…
As vague and slightly misleading as the preview synopsis may be, tackling the issue’s main component head-on in that space wouldn’t have done it any justice, either. Sensationalism may be running it nine different ways under the microscope but it is, at its core, a well-handled and completely in-character scene. Letting these things be voiced without the added baggage of “hype box” proclamation is usually best. It’s a bit of shame the real world discourse couldn’t’ve begun until after the issue was officially released, though.
Politics for the development aside, the real question turns to “why now”? This being the penultimate issue of All-New, there’s not a tremendous amount of room to settle and/or naturally evolve. For something so seemingly tacked-on late in run, it’s almost as if Bendis is deliberately teeing this up for his successors.
Without Bobby and Jean’s six page exchange, this would’ve been the thinnest of issues. The decompression coming off of the far-too-long Black Vortex saga was a much-needed breath of fresh air but that only makes half an issue at best. Maybe digging into the mystery advertised on the cover a bit more wouldn’t’ve been the worst thing in the world? Again, penultimate issue- not a lot of real estate left.
This week’s All-New X-Men is solid but nowhere near the realm of “breaking the internet in half”. Compelling and character-driven, it’s sincere and certainly worth checking out. Just calibrate expectation for “understatement” as it owns but doesn’t necessarily buy into its place in the current news cycle. Still, you will wonder “Who are the Utopians?”…