Miles Morales has finally brought together the original X-Men’s Jean Grey and the Ultimate X-Men of his universe. In an issue where sparks should fly and distrust should be met with hostility, these characters once again prove to be far more patient than their elder or otherworldly selves and logic prevails. In short: a good discussion is had by all and very few fists are thrown.
In this sense, nothing is especially memorable about All-New X-Men #34 but it still has all the charm and appeal that comes with a Brian Michael Bendis comic book just the same. This issue sort of just exists as another pawn mover, setting up the pieces for what will obviously be (at this point it has to be!) a fantastic crescendo. Until those final moments however, everything seems stagnant as Miles tries very hard to stay out of trouble, and in doing so stays out of the story almost entirely whilst the X-Men talk it out.
There’s plenty of great examples of Bendis’ handiwork at play here. In terms of interaction, the original five X-sprouts have some shining moments in this issue. Iceman takes on the relentless heat of Atlanta, Georgia while battling a humongous Moloid. Bobby is a developing young mutant who still hasn’t learned how to fully control his abilities. His raw, unpolished talent, which his future self will train into pure skill, is for now used recklessly. He shows some brass by harmlessly taking out two racist officers who try to arrest him for, well, being a mutant-in-public. Bendis is serving us a perfect foreshadowing of the man Bobby Drake becomes later in life.
On the other hand, Hank McCoy’s time in the Ultimate Universe is going rather disastrously. As a “special guest” of Dr. Doom (have we gone over how great Dr. Doom is yet?) he is served a full meal. As a result his secrets are revealed while under the persuasion of Doom’s “truth serum.” Unfortunately, he also confesses his thankless love and adoration for Jean Grey and humble Hank loses all humility. It’s a disparaging moment for readers to see such a hopeful character brought down to such a low level. This really is what makes Doom such a splendid villain. If it will get Doom what he desires, there is no depravity too low.
Warren, Laura, and Wolverine’s-fill-in, James Hudson, Jr. have a moody moment as well. Here, James briefly, like in a single panel, catches up both of his new friends and new Ultimate readers with the history of Ultimate mutants. In the Ultimate Universe, mutants were made, genetically altered to be exact, the first being James Howlett a.k.a. the Wolverine. This is a haunting reality, difficult for them to accept and Mahmud Asrar, Marte Gracia and Marcelo Maiolo each do a suitable job capturing the depressing and dark mood of this shadowy secret.
While the revelations and meet-ups are still interesting to read, it may not be the case much longer. In terms of moving the story along, this issue is more or less a wash. Bobby escapes the Moloid and the racist cops but he’s still loose in Atlanta, Hank is still at dinner with Doom, Jean Grey met Jean Grey and they sorta hugged it out, and Miles is awkwardly sitting at the table with the Ultimate X-Men while somewhere in the “Canadian Wilderness” Angel, X-23, and Wolverine, Jr. are standing around talking aimlessly. It may sound petty, but there’s not a lot of bang for your buck here. It’s a slow moving train indeed and despite the decent intrigue and even a notable cliffhanger, at the end of the issue, what was really the point? The story arc is getting into the nitty gritty of the characters, something Bendis excels at. Unfortunately, it can also mean the story gets long-winded and if this goes on much longer, that will certainly be the case.
Overall, #34 is a good read with beautiful pencils and a wealth of colors which makes the art, at the very least, worth the cover price. For more on Miles Morales in this title, you’ll just have to wait for the next issue. Bendis is definitely holding out on us when it comes to our youthful webslinger, but fear not, this just means he’s saving the best for last!