Al New X-Men #14
Review by Paul Bowler
Having learned from the Uncanny Avengers that Mystique, Sabertooh, and Lady Mastermind have been using their identities to conduct a number of robberies, the Original X-Men set out to track them down with the help of Wolverine and Kitty Pryde. Meanwhile in a disused warehouse, Mystique and her Brotherhood are meeting with Madame Hydra and her terrorist organization. As the Silver Samurai stands guard by Madame Hydra’s side, Mystique offers all the money that her Brotherhood has stolen so that she can buy the island of Madrpoor from Hydra. But before Mystique can seal the deal, Wolverine, Kitty, and the original X-Men gatecrash the meeting. As the battle rages, Jean Grey is overwhelmed by Lady Mastermind’s illusions, and her powers begin spiralling out of control as the Phoenix Force is apparently unleashed…
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen have crafted another fine issue of All New X-Men as the sudden appearance of the Phoenix Force throws everyone off balance. All New X-Men #14 has the Original X-Men coming face to face with something they can scarcely begin to understand, while Kitty and Wolverine must face the unimaginable dread of Jean becoming Phoenix at an age where she can hardly even control her original powers.
All New X-Men #14 sees the X-Men, the Brotherhood and Hydra reeling from Jean’s sudden manifestation of the Phoenix Force. By catching Jean off guard with the illusion of Jason Wyngarde, the original Mastermind and Regan’s father, Lady Mastermind hoped to make Jean suffer for destroying her family, and when Jean appears to be transforming into Phoenix, it looks as if history is about to repeat itself. However, Brian Michael Bendis ingeniously blindsides those of us who thought the Phoenix effect was another one of Lady Mastermind’s illusions, when the X-Men realize that it is Jean who is projecting the Phoenix image to deceive their enemies.
Jean’s inexperience with her powers means that she has inadvertently projected the image into the minds of the Original X-Men, Wolverine, and Kitty Pryde as well. Fortunately for Jean she is able to regain control before Wolverine’s attempt to end the Phoenix menace gets her slashed by his claws, just as Lady Mastermind strikes back with an illusion of Professor Charles Xavier to give the Brotherhood and Hydra a chance to regain their senses.
The warehouse soon becomes a raging battle ground, with the Original X-Men proving to be more than a match for their opponents: as Cyclops, Iceman, and Beast deal with Sabertooth and the Silver Samurai, while Jean gives Lady Mastermind a taste of her own medicine, Kitty takes on Madame Hydra and Wolverine confronts Mystique. The art by Stuart Immonen on All New X-Men #14 is as fantastic as ever, together with Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks, and the welcome return of Marte Gracia’s fantastic colors, this issue looks absolutely stunning. All New X-Men #14 places the Original X-Men right in the thick of the action, it’s great to see them battling the likes of Sabertooth and the Silver Samurai, and Stuart Immonen really captures the youthful sense of exuberance that makes their teamwork and tactics so effective.
There are some really fun moments after Lady Mastermind attempts to cover her escape with an illusion of the Uncanny Avengers, especially once the real Uncanny Avengers turn up at the scene after Kitty has captured Regan, and Iceman throws a snowball at Thor because he thinks that the Uncanny Avengers are still an illusion. The young Iceman continues to say and do all the wrong things at the most inappropriate moments, it’s hilariously funny, and the way the God of Thunder responds to Bobby’s mistake is brilliant.
Brian Michael Bendis also manages to include a nice little interlude between Alex and Scott, with a Summers brother high five, it’s a great scene, and follows on nicely from their first encounter during the last issue. Mystique is imprisoned in The Cage Extra-Max Prison at the end of the issue, but as Maria Hill quickly discovers, it’s not easy to keep Raven Darkholme under lock and key. By the end of this issue Bendis’ takes the opportunity to hint at just how profound an effect Jean’s foreknowledge has had on her, as she sits alone on the basketball court pondering over the memories behind of the Phoenix image she projected psychically during the battle.
The cover of All New X-Men #14 by Immonen, Grawbadger, and Gracia depicts the young Jean Grey being led towards us by Jason Wyngarde. This stunning cover is as sinister as it is opulent, with Jean entranced by Mastermind against a lavish backdrop, providing a chilling reminder of how Wyngarde’s influence originally transformed her into the Hellfire Clubs Black Queen – an event that ultimately led to Jean being corrupted by her own power during the Dark Phoenix saga.
All New X-Men #14 is another superb issue by Bendis and Immonen, the Original X-Men get to fight side by side with Wolverine and Kitty, and the foreboding coda as Jean reflects on her actions hints that things might not have been resolved as easily as we thought.