All New X-Men #5
Review by Paul Bowler
While the young Hank McCoy works tirelessly to find a cure for the Beast’s life-threatening Next-Generation Mutation, he enlists the help of Jean Grey’s newly emerging telepathic powers to connect them all psychically while he tends to his future self’s physical form. After discovering a link between the Beast’s condition and the formula he once used to alter his own mutation, which occurred in the classic anthology series Amazing Adventures #11 (1972), Hank McCoy begins to work on finding the flaw in the Beast’s original formula.
In Texas the Student who found out he was a Mutant when the X-Men clashed last issue finds his life has been turned upside down by the media frenzy it caused. Benjamin Deeds has been kicked out of school for no apparent reason other than being a Mutant, and he soon finds that his friends are not prepared to stand up for him either. As he leaves the campus Benjamin is greeted by Cyclops who offers him to the chance to join his team of X-Men and learn how to use his powers. When Benjamin agrees, Cyclops calls Illyana to teleport them to the Weapon X Facility – where Scott is building The New Charles Xavier School for the Gifted.
Back at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning preparations are underway in the lab, while Hank and Headmistress Kitty Pryde work on the formula, the Beast and Jean Grey continue to talk psychically. When the Beast tries to discuss Jean’s opinions on the future, particularly what Scott has done, she surprises him by asking him to show her the full extent of everything that will happen to her during her extraordinary life with the X-Men. As Jean reels from the experience, Kitty leads her outside, leaving Hank to administer the remedy he’s formulated to save the Beast.
Some time later, as both generations of X-Men gather outside the School, an argument between Wolverine and the teenage Scott Summers is interrupted when the young Hank McCoy leads the Beast outside. His mutation has been stabilized and he is recovering quickly. As the Beast’s friends gather around him he suggests that its time for the Original X-Men to return to their own time, but Jean Grey refuses, having seen what the future holds for them all she is determined to make things right before they return to the past. The Original X-Men take a vote and decide to stay and finish what they’ve started, with Kitty Pride volunteering to serve as their mentor.
With Hank McCoy’s life hanging in the balance, All New X-Men #5 sees Jean Grey take centre stage in Brian Michael Bendis’ superlative time travel saga. The telepathic conference inside the Beast’s mind is full of Bendis’ trademark dialogue, veering effortlessly between the slapstick banter of the McCoy’s search for a cure and Hank‘s quiet interlude with Jean as they discuss the possible ramifications of tampering with the timeline. It seems Jean’s telepathic powers shouldn’t have developed for at least another year, a fact which neither of them can fully explain, however is does pose some intriguing possibilities that I’m sure Bendis will reveal in time.
The work by Stuart Immonenon All New X-Men has been nothing short of astounding. I defy anyone not to be blown away by the moment Hank allows Jean to see the entirety of her timeline. Here you are plunged into a kaleidoscopic whirlpool of fragmented images: Jean’s early years as Marvel Girl, her transformation into Phoenix, then ultimately from Black Queen to Dark Phoenix, Inferno and X-Factor, her feelings for Wolverine, and the path that will inexorably spirals towards Scott Summers and a future twisted by the man she thought she’d love forever.
Talking of Scott Summers, he is still busy recruiting for his New Charles Xavier School for the Gifted. He manages to persuade the young Mutant in Texas who got caught in the battle between the two teams of X-Men to join him. It’s almost as if Scott sees something of himself in Benjamin Deeds, however he still has a long way to go to make amends for what he did as part of the Phoenix Five – a fact that Benjamin astutely reminds him of. The new school Cyclops is building is slowly taking shape in the old Weapon X Facility, and its going to be interesting to learn more about these new Mutants and their abilities over the coming months.
When the Beast’s condition is stabilized it looks like everyone expects the Original X-Men to return to their own time, once again Bendis keeps us on the back foot when Jean stubbornly refuses to leave until she is satisfied they have accomplished their mission – to prevent Scott Summers from destroying everything they stand for. Jean may be dressed as a student, but her personality seems to be evolving in keeping with her powers – just as her costume changed into her Marvel Girl outfit during her telepathic link with the Beast. She takes charge here like an adult, rallying her peers to join her, stating that Professor X can easily mind wipe them all when they return, even silencing Wolverine’s doubts with a few choice words from the heart.
Ignoring Angel’s concerns, The Original X-Men take a vote and decide to stay. Realizing that this is the chance she has been waiting for to honour Xavier’s memory, Kitty appoints herself as the teenage X-Men’s mentor while they reside in this time period. As the young Beast jokes that maybe they should call her Professor K, it’s intriguing to note that Warren is the only one to address the fact that his future self is missing. But before we can ponder on this the young Scott Summers tries to talk to Jean, but she recoils from his touch and tells him to leave her alone before walking away with her head bowed.
All New X-Men #5 is another really exciting issue, full of cracking dialogue and great character moments. I’m really pleased the Original X-Men are sticking around for the foreseeable future, it’s been great fun seeing the two generations working together, and I can’t wait the see the fallout from this issues shock ending.