by Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Stuart Immonen (Artist), Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker), Marte Gracia (Colorist).

The Story: The Children of Mystique from the future cause havoc for the X-men in the present.

The Review: There is a lot of misdirection occurring in this current arc of All-New X-men as the Brotherhood of the future return to plague the X-men, including the members who apparently died during the Battle of the Atom storyline. With telepathic trickery and a shape-shifter loose in the New Xavier school its hard to tell exactly if what is presented is what is actually happening at any given time. This creates a lot of uncertainty, keeping the reader on their back foot and achieving a sense of claustrophobic chaos and suspense which I must commend the creative team for.

With the Brotherhood returning, Bendis begins to peel back the curtain on a few of the all new creations, specifically Xavier, who we discover in this issue is not in fact the grandson of Xavier as he had been claiming. Half of his parentage is revealed explicitly while the other half is suggested strongly, however with all of the uncertainty and trickery afoot its hard to tell if what is strongly implied is indeed fact. I’m sure readers will be desperate to see the events that led up to Xavier’s conception as it is a pairing that seems both obvious but also impossible at the same time, How and when this coupling happened is of great significance not just to Xavier but to readers and the X-men as a whole.

The marriage of the casts of All-New X-men and Uncanny X-men has been working really well in this book lately, it’s nice to see the events from both books reflected and referenced in both as its reminiscent of the Claremont era when New Mutants and Uncanny would interact closely. It’s a small thing but it really does help to make this universe feel a little more real and special. Something incredibly important occurs with Triage in this issue that will no doubt come back into play down the line in Uncanny as his power set is expanded and explored.

There is a slightly confusing turn of events in the climax of the issue when Emma Frost punches out Jean, it seems that she is doing this to take her out of a fight that Emma doesn’t believe she can win yet the very next page reveals Jean in the clutches of Xavier on the astral plane. It’s an odd little piece of plot mechanics that doesn’t really seem to work to any kind of logic but it is the only iffy spot in an otherwise stellar issue.

What can be said about the art on this book that hasn’t been said already? It’s amazing and probably my favourite on any Marvel book right now. The flashback (forward?) confrontation between Xavier and Raze is incredibly well designed, lit and layed out. There are a variety of locales and tones at play in this issue and the art team nail them all, from the astral plane to a hospital room birth scene. Marte Gracia’s colouring in this issue was particularly effective at playing up the dangerous situation the X-men find themselves in by utilising the back up generators lighting to soak the characters in red. It’s a great use of color theory to help sell the psychological state of the characters.

Grade: B (I really wanted to give this issue an A and would have if not for the weirdness of Emma’s plan to punch out Jean Grey being so illogical.)

-Liam Kelleher

Stray Thoughts: As with all things in Bendis’ X-men Saga thus far, all things lead back to Mystique. It has been interesting to watch Bendis build her up so much recently, very curious to see where it is all leading.