By: Christopher Yost (writer), Dalibor Talajic, Paco Medina (artists), Dalibor Talajic, Juan Vlasco (inkers), Marte Gracia, Wil Quintana (colors)

The Story: First To Last, Part 3: The evolutionaries continue to attack and we see, through emerging memories, the origin of the evolutionaries. At the same time, their last visit is further illuminated, while their fight to take out Cyclops continues.

What’s Good: This issue had several eye-opening (or popping, depending on how unjaded you are) reveals that were quite cool. Our no-spoiler policy keeps me from enthusing, but I’m definitely going to reread this issue, not because I missed something, but because the implications are thick enough to reward another look. I got the impression that Yost was having fun with his characters in this issue, which colored the overall feel. Old Ice Man, Wolverine, Old and New Cyclops, and Old Beast all showed their little personality quirks and the sum is so much more than a patchwork of familiar reactions. There’s a soap operatic social web of friendships, tensions, conflicts and overt and hidden respects that has been a trademark of Marvel since Spiderman was created, and brought to a much higher levels by such X-masters as Claremont. Yost is drawing on that wealth to create sitcom-esque joisting, double meanings or clever ambiguities. Although I loved the original X-Men moments in this issue, my favourite scene was where all the young mutants are “keeping” Cyclops safe and he flatly says “I’ll give you one more minute, then I’m leaving.” In response, Rockslide asks, “You think you can take all of us?” and Cyclops just answers “Yes. You’ll be first.” You can totally sympathize with this adolescent powerhouse being intimidated by a leader whose position is becoming increasingly legendary. And the reader shares Rockslide’s awe when you think ‘Yeah, Cyclops can be knocked unconscious with the leg of my dining room table, but shit…what trick has this strategic genius got that he’s not even a little scared of Rockslide and half a dozen other mutants?’

Medina, Talajic, Medina, Vlasco, Garcia and Quintana turned in some delightful visual candy. The workshop of Phastus was cool, while the double-splash page of Storm and Magneto fighting the evolutionaries was powerfully set up. The modern-day fight scenes were all clear and evocative, but the real charm for me was in visiting the X-Men’s past and seeing both the X-Men and the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as the were in their innocent youth. Whereas now all of them are stylishly suited, Talajic and Gracia dug deeper into the well of real Marvel history to show how awkward and ill-fitting their first costumes were (presumably before Reed Richards’ unstable molecules were widely used). The older, darker color palette for the scenes in the past was also a very powerful tone-setting device that served the entire creative team well.

What’s Not So Good: Honestly, I’m loving this story. When I first finished reading, my brain was grasping a bit for what events had filled the pages. The reason I felt that way was because although there’s action, this was a book or revelations in a mystery story. The texture deepened. But that doesn’t constitute a failing.

Conclusion: X-Men #13 is fascinating reveal after fascinating reveal. Yost has a firm hand on the steering wheel on this one and I’m loving everywhere he’s taking us.

Grade: A-

-DS Arsenault

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