It wasn’t too long ago that I reviewed the first arc of the new series of All-New X-Men and… it was okay. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t anything to write home about either. Mostly, it was a means to reintroduce the characters to a new post-Secret Wars audience and because they spent so much time doing that, they didn’t have much left for anything actually interesting. But I said I would give them at least another arc to impress me so let’s see if they’ve managed to do so.Angel and Wolverine are having dinner in Paris when they run into Blob at the restaurant and, of course, a fight ensues. Angel and Wolverine argue as he feels she’s been allowing herself to be injured far too often recently and that she’s becoming reckless. Because she won’t stop being reckless, the couple breaks up. But while the ongoing battle with Blob continues, young Cyclops is kidnapped and fights with the knowledge that his older self committed heinous acts and fate might require him to do the same in the future.
Now I’ll be honest, the idea that one superhero might be worried about another superhero that is their significant other is actually not one that is explored very often in comics. Angel being genuinely worried about Wolverine, and it still feels very wrong to say that, actually brings up some interesting points to discuss. He isn’t paranoid that something is going to happen to her, after all, she regenerates just like Logan did, but having some concern for someone you care about, even if they are nigh invulnerable, brings a little something to the book.
This arc is really a couple of stories in one. First, you have the relationship drama between Angel and Wolverine and as I said, that is interesting for bringing up something that is rarely talked about in superhero comics. Second you get the fight with Blob and whatever he’s doing in the background. Finally, you get the ongoing confusion that young Cyclops feels about his future self and whether he has any choice but to become the instrument of the Phoenix Force someday.
Artistically, this is much better than the first arc. Mark Bagley simply had too much on his plate previously, but now he’s back in fine form and his art reflects his new focus on the book. The problem comes in with the writing and trying to keep the multiple storylines straight. It really never feels like there’s anything cohesive going on and the focus of the book isn’t on characters we really want to see. Instead, it’s like you’re following the wrong group around and missing everything that you might actually be interested in. It’s certainly an improvement over the first arc, but still not where I want it to be in an ongoing book. Maybe the most interesting subplot I see, even though I know it will go nowhere, is the idea that young Cyclops is trapped by fate. Since he and his cohorts have been brought to the present and all know what happens to them in their future, what impact does that actually have on their future decisions and do they have any actual choice?
I’m still on-board with the series because I can see where it ought to be going. The real question is where they can get there or not. I think the art is back, I just want to see tighter plotting and a focus on things that actually matter to the reader. Here’s hoping that the next arc can accomplish it.