• All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday’s X-Men (Collecting #1-5); Release Date: April 2013
• By Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Stuart Immonen (penciler)
• Featuring: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Magneto
Standing above the glut of current X-Men titles, writer Brian Michael Bendis revitalizes the franchise by returning to what makes X-Men the preeminent super hero team.
Although the premise seemingly sets up a mutant vs mutant civil war scenario, Bendis wisely grounds the conflict within the original X-Men team from the past confronting their disillusioned present day counterparts.
Set after the events of the Phoenix Five, new mutants are popping up around the world after being on the verge of extinction. It’s here that we catch up with Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, formerly possessed by the dark Phoenix Force and now a renegade fugitive. His intent is on starting a revolution, but by attacking humans in order to get to the new mutants, Scott has become everything he once despised.
To force Scott to face how far he has fallen and to prevent mutant genocide, Dr. Hank McCoy transports the original idealistic X-Men team from the past to the present day as a living reflection of “when Scott was pure, when he didn’t know what the world was really like, and when he was everything he wanted to be.”
All-New X-Men, Volume 1 sets the stage for an on-going series. As a result, the introduction of new mutant characters and some of the story arcs aren’t intended to be fully developed.
For seasoned veterans of X-Men comics some ideas may feel a tad recycled while newcomers will appreciate this as a fresh story featuring a deep roster of mutants including Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Ice Man.
The attention to characterization of the most prominent X-Men in the story reminds us to embrace our inner youth. For teenager Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl, using her nascent psychic abilities to glean the minds of present day X-men reveals the shocking truth of her fiery fate and what Scott will become.
Despite knowing what the future holds for her, Jean still believes in hope and in realizing Professor Xavier’s dream of peaceful coexistence with humans.
The theme of how youth can be our saving grace is also prevalent in Beast’s story arc. Resigned to prevent his death alone, Dr. McCoy’s next stage of evolution will kill him unless his younger, pre-transformation self can find the solution that eludes him.
The charm of “Yesterday’s X-Men” lies in character’s reaction to their future or in some cases lack thereof. Angel is curious about why there’s no mention of his present day self and Ice Man learns he hasn’t changed much at all.
Clean and detailed visuals are consistently commendable considering the challenge in presenting past and present X-Men cohesively yet distinctly in the same panel.
The attire and hair styles of the original X-Men from decades past evokes a nostalgic appeal while the mature X-Men have a modern sleek sheen. Further, many of the backgrounds utilize a darker color palette which contributes to the overall tone of the story.
Fine artwork and memorable characterizations helps make Volume 1 an engaging take on the origins of X-Men. At the same time, the story moves forward with the over-arching continuity in the Marvel universe, making it a solid entry point for curious new comic book readers.