Following the events in Avengers vs. X-Men (I did a review here), the world has changed, new mutants are waking up everywhere and Scott Summers and his band of criminal mutants are searching for the recently mutated in order to pay back some of the horrors that they committed under the control of the Phoenix Force. Thus starts the All New X-Men, one group living at the Jean Grey School and the other, including Cyclops, Magik, Magneto and Emma Frost, are trying to save new mutants from being abused at the hands of a frightened human population.
Yet something bad is happening to many of the mutants whose powers are returning, what they could do before isn’t necessarily what they can do now. Fearing what Cyclops and his crew might do, Hank McCoy, at the end of his wits, decides to go back in time and recruit the original X-Men; Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman and Angel and hope they can come forward in time and stop the modern-day Cyclops from his mad plan, or at the very least, have the Cyclops of the past learn what his future holds so he never does it in the first place.
Well, it doesn’t quite work out that way. The stress of traveling through time and learning their future fate sends Jean Grey’s telepathic powers manifesting a year ahead of time. She learns the full truth of what has happened, including her abilities as the Phoenix, the death of her family and friends and she determines that they’re staying in the future until the problem is solved. The young X-Men run into the old Cyclops and Magneto and now both sides are convinced they have a major problem to deal with. Young Cyclops steals Wolverine’s motorcycle and heads off into the city where he accesses the safe deposit box that he’s always kept and learns a great deal of the history between himself and Jean, but then Mystique intervenes and she pretends that she’s trying to help him in memory of Charles Xavier, but in reality, she’s trying to distract the X-Men so that her plan can go on as scheduled. I get the distinct impression that nobody on Scott’s side is really all that interested in following him. Mystique and Sabertooth are off doing their own thing, they have a plan that has nothing to do with mutants, they just want to go off to an island and retire from the war. Scott and Magneto are still fighting the good fight, more or less, although I get the feeling that their end goals are totally different. Scott is building a new Charles Xavier School. Illyana, who the hell knows what she really wants.
We don’t really know what any of the younger versions of the X-Men want either. Angel wants nothing more than to go home, he joins up with Magneto’s side when the gang overrides his desire to return to the past. Jean and young Cyclops want to stay and help the future, but every moment here causes them mental and physical strain. The younger Iceman doesn’t really care for his older counterpart and he’s torn between his friendship for young Scott and Jean and his disappointment with young Angel’s decision. Young Beast is having the time of his life, especially after he saves his older counterpart’s degeneration. However, it all goes bad when Lady Mastermind triggers the Phoenix to take over Jean Grey, either as an illusion or reality, we just don’t know yet.
That’s kind of the thing, we just don’t know at the moment how it will turn out. I’ve gone on record saying that I think the Phoenix is terribly overused in the Marvel Universe, I’d be happy never to see it again because, like all cosmic powers, it’s just too powerful. With as many times as Marvel has brought back Jean Grey, it seems that her only role is to be the host of the Phoenix and I don’t like that concept. I love the idea of having younger versions of the X-Men hanging around in the present, but we all know that eventually, they’ll have to put all the puzzle pieces back in the box and hit the big reset button and none of the things in this series will ever have happened. It makes reading it seem rather pointless. It’s like reading the last Harry Potter book and half-way through, J.K. Rowling retconning half of the first book. That’s the major problem with these eternal series, no major changes can ever be permanent, they will keep erasing continuity as they go on and it’s happened so much that it doesn’t phase the reader as much as it ought to. If these stories don’t matter, if it all goes away next week, what’s the point?
I will continue to read this series, mostly because I really enjoy how the younger X-Men are written, there’s something in there that makes me remember the way things were when I started reading comics, but there’s always going to be a certain amount of lingering disappointment that, at some point, they’re all going to go away and the entire tale that’s been told will vanish. It’s inherent in the concept, it has to happen, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.