For the sake of drama and rising climax, All-New X-Men #33 once again puts off a wonderful opportunity to have young Miles Morales meet the original X-Kids. There’s nothing wrong with a slowly built story with momentum that pushes the narrative to exciting places. The problem is, this just isn’t it.
It’s rare, but even Bendis can slow his own momentum to a near halt. You would think in an issue with Iceman first coming to terms with his power set, James Hudson and X-23 meeting for the first time, and young 616-Jean Grey trespassing on Ultimate-verse X-Mansion property, something would give and a punch would be thrown. For a bunch of teenagers, these mutants seem really collected and pragmatic.
The James Hudson scene is the most troubling. Hudson comes barreling out of the Canadian wilderness through the snow at the love-sick Warren (Angel) and unamused Laura (X-23). There’s no fighting, just staring as James explains how he followed Warren all the way from the Savage Land in a way that lacks any credible detail. “I figured out where you were going before you could figure out how to get there,” is Hudson’s explanation.
That seems unlikely to me, even with my knowledge of James. Kid-Wolverine here may be holding some information back and I would like to believe that is the case. However, this still doesn’t address how James would anticipate exactly where Warren would be headed. Why would he assume Angel would have anything to do with Weapon-X? The only reason 616 young Angel knew where to go is that in his Universe, the old Weapon-X facility is the Scott Summers X-Team’s base of operations. Then, to really make you crumple the page, the reader has to figure that Warren had to fly from the South Pole to Canada in just about an hour. For every other character a total of an hour or two, max, must have passed in the last three issues. Are we to seriously believe Warren, young Warren, has the ability to fly that fast and that far in under two hours? How did Laura get there? Just about everything else in this issue feels right, but these three meeting up in this scenario is a coincidence that isn’t sitting well.
During #33 there’s a moment when the reader should stop to appreciate that the main villain for an Ultimate universe/All-New X-Men crossover event is setting up to be Dr. Doom. It’s almost inarguable that the most important revelation in this issue is that Victor Van Damme has an interest in multiverse traveling. This will undoubtedly have major implications in the future of both Universes. It seems Dr. Doom, with his doombots of doom service, fulfilling his every doomed need, has theorized the origin of the Hank McCoy that appeared out of thin air on his very doorstep. For me, the most intriguing factor is that Bendis just placed the two most scientifically inclined characters (thus far) in this arc together, in the same room, to discuss how Hank McCoy of 616 (past) got to the Ultimate present. I’m weary for Hank in the future of this arc as torture is certainly an option that Ultimate Doom would consider.
The best examples of Asrar and Gracia’s astonishing artistic instincts revolve around the Iceman and Jean Grey scenes. The entertaining opening of Bobby Drake’s battle with Mole Man and his minions provides a swell opportunity to see Iceman going at it alone. It’s also a humorously pleasant surprise to see Mole Man, another Fantastic Four villain thrown haphazardly into the mix. Asrar has a firm grasp on emoting through facial expressions and some of my favorite instances in this issue take place during this scene. Bendis uses Bobby’s clash with Mole Man as a teaching moment for the young Iceman as he learns how to really bring his abilities to their maximum potential. The result, however, may not fare well for young Bobby. Bobby’s final page in #33 features an homage by Asrar and Gracia of Fantastic Four #264; a full page shot of a gigantic moloid (a fungal monster of Mole Man’s creation) breaking the surface of New York City streets.
The best scenes in the issue are the interactions between Miles, Jean, and Ganke. Asrar appreciates the full-faced, loud mouthed Ganke that fans clamor for. There’s also Jean’s facial reactions which idealize perfectly the mindset that she has seen and heard it all when it comes to young teenage boys. Unfortunately their moment is short lived and once again Bendis leaves readers clinging (and in despair) as the All-New X-heroes fail to reunite. Miles agrees to the lunacy of driving to Westchester to the seemingly abandoned Xavier Academy so Jean might find Cerebro. Granted, Miles’ run-ins with X-folk is minimal to none, but still the glaringly obvious dilemma remains; where’s Kitty Pryde? It’s right about here where Miles should have realized that he probably should have gone to her before he went to Ganke. As much as I respect the Ganke/Miles relationship, and as humorously awkward as it is to have an exchange between Ganke and Jean, it’s unnecessary and delays the point. They needed transportation to the Xavier Mansion and I’m willing to bet Kitty still has front door keys. Kitty has been so underused these last few months throughout the Ultimate line and this just continues to throw dirt on the grave of a great character.
Bendis’ books are always a great ride. Even when he gives us a quick read with plenty of bite but none of the nourishment, you can be sure that the next issue will quickly get to the good stuff. While this issue felt flatter than the two before it, it has segued into some major revelations for the All-New X-Men. It seems Miles Morales is going to have a hard time playing peace-keeper between the two clans of the Children of the Atom.