A nice albeit brief change of pace before ‘Battle of the Atom’ starts.
Written by Brian Bendis
Cover by Stuart Immonen
Art by David Lafuente
Beware of spoilers!
Issue #15 is technically the end of the arc which leads us in to the ‘Battle of the Atom’ crossover event taking place in several of the ongoing X-Men titles but it is also a standalone story which almost forgets the ongoing conflict between the different X-teams.
This issue sees the older (present day) X-Men take a backseat and allow the teen characters to stand on their own two feet and carry a story on their own merit. The good news is… it works but then there’s very little in this series which hasn’t worked over the past fifteen issues.
The brief cameo appearances by the present day X-Men serve as a good little reminder that the cast of teenager characters are out of their own time. The parent-child relationship that has built up between the two teams in illustrated well in scenes featuring Wolverine with the young Bobby and Scott.
The Scott/Bobby friendship gives their sub-plot in this issue a great buddy movie feel as they go out on their own to explore the modern day outside world with little understanding of their surroundings. The plot is very simple but it makes for a great break from all the heavy handed conflict that’s been going on.
Scott’s timid nature is the polar opposite of the troubled present day Scott who looms heavily over the pages of many issues. It’s also a great reminder of how things used to be before things went wrong.
Bobby is… well… Bobby but it’s still great to see him being able to relax rather than continuing to show his conflicted nature of the betrayal of Angel. His interactions with the teens is pitch perfect and reading it brought back memories of being an awkward teenager.
There is some emotional resonance to the Bobby/Scott story but it doesn’t quite pack the punch of the scenes prominently featuring Jean and the two Hank/Beast characters.
For me the concept of a romantic relationship between Jean and Beast is new and different and it’s explored in an interesting way. It poses the question of how Jean was supposed to react when her infant powers gave her no choice but to hear the adult Beast screaming his thoughts at her.
I hadn’t predicted that she would go to the younger Beast and confront him about her feels nor did I expect them to share a kiss. Not prior to having seen the cover art for this issue anyway.
The development of the teenage Jean’s powers is taking an interesting turn and the imbalance between control and chaos mirrors the nature of being a teenager perfectly.
Bendis has crafted a great relationship between readers and characters in this series and with this issue our emotional connection to the teens is tested. I think it’s a great testament to his writing that as a reader I feel sympathetic towards almost all parties involved each for their own individual reasons.
I talked in my last review about the fun factor of this series and it isn’t lost here. It will be interesting to see if this can be maintained through the ‘Atom’ cross-over that will soon be upon us.