Graphic Novel Review: All-New X-Men: All-Different

11:15 23 May 2014

All-New X-Men: All-Different

All-New X-Men: All-Different

Archant

The teenage X-Men come up against religious zealots intent on wiping out mutantkind

(Panini Books)

Treading water, or part of an epic story arc which has still got a long way left to run? Critics are divided over Brian Michael Bendis’ X-Men series, especially the All-New book, which brought the original team of mutants into the present day in order to heal the divisions in mutant society caused by the shocking murder of their founder Charles Xavier.

So far we’ve seen various interpersonal developments play out between the teen X-Men, their contemporary counterparts and various other mutant factions, but the plot has barely moved on, despite the events of the recent Battle of the Atom crossover.

However, with this latest volume we start to see a shift not only in allegiances – as the young mutants switch sides to join up with the adult Cyclops’ band of rogue X-Men – but also in plot development, as the menace of the new Purifiers is finally tackled head on.

This group of religious extremists dedicated to ridding the world of the sinful mutant plague is led by Reverend Stryker, son of fanatical preacher William (as seen in the seminal X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills), and has been picking off newly emerging mutants across the US.

But they make a wrong turn when they pick up X-23, aka Laura Kinney, the genetic clone of Wolverine who recently escaped from a televised combat scenario devised by the game-playing Arcade...

As usual with Bendis’ work, the main storyline is almost incidental to the relationships between his protagonists, which here primarily focuses on the rivalry between Hank (Beast) McCoy and Scott (Cyclops) Summers over the love of Jean (Marvel Girl) Grey, and the arrival of X-23 to the fold.

Say what you like about Bendis’ somewhat relaxed plot pacing, but he obviously knows where he’s going with this series and its sister title, and the pay-off will hopefully be worth the wait. In the meantime, the journey remains as entertaining as ever, and you just can’t fault his characterisation.

And with the next volume taking the All-New X-Men into space alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy, things may finally start heating up…

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