Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man , joins the All-New X-Men and the Ultimate X-Men on an all expenses paid trip to scenic Latveria where they will wine and dine with Dr. Doom! Or have a battle royale! Or both!
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Sara Pichelli & Marte Gracia
Assistant Editor: Xander Jarowey
Editor: Mike Marts
Story: The X-Teams make their way to Latveria to rescue Beast from the clutches of Dr. Doom, who is trying to get as much information about dimension hopping and time travel as he can from the brainwashed Hank McCoy. Before they arrived, All-New Jean and Ultimate Jean teamed up with Cerebro to locate the missing All-New X-Men. Miles Morales tagged along and made a desperate gambit against Doom at the issue’s explosive finale.
Thoughts: Asrar opens the issue with a gorgeous two page splash showing the All-New X-Men, Ultimate X-Men, and Ultimate Spider-Man engaged in battle with Dr. Doom and his Doombots at Doom’s Latverian castle. He’s got everyone squeezed into the scene with a great perspective on it and I feel like I notice some new detail every time I look at it. The opening grabs your attention, but caused some momentary confusion as well. By opening in media res, it caused me to wonder if I had missed an issue somehow as the scenario was not where we had left off in the story to my recollection, but I rolled on and got confirmation a few pages later that Bendis had just moved events around for dramatic effect.
Miles is great in the opening . Even though this isn’t his book, he shares focus with the X-Men in the battle, getting names for the X-Men wrong, regardless of which reality they are from. He’s got funny exchanges with both Rogue (Rock) and X-23 (Lady Wolverine) and he’s not alone in his confusion as Angel can’t tell his Icemen apart, either. Bendis juggles the melee well and I enjoyed how awestruck Miles was realizing he was encountering “Doctor freakin’ Doom”. I always appreciate seeing Miles go into stealth mode and Asrar rendered All-New Jean’s shock well at the scene’s cliffhanger.
Bendis then takes us back to where the prior issue left off, with the Jeans utilizing Cerebro. It’s one of my favorite interactions since they can really get into each other’s heads, leading into the characters getting insight into themselves. Is it self acceptance when you tell your counterpart “I like you.”?
Apparently, Doom wants to have his own version of this with his other selves and has Beast still under his chemically induced control, giving him all sorts of information. This doesn’t mean that Beast can’t verbally resist sometimes, like by telling Doom to die in a fire. With Bendis being an architect of the modern Marvel universe, I have to wonder if this will play into the upcoming Secret Wars as Beast is forced to detail his knowledge of the time line. We see all sorts of events mentioned, such as Onslaught, Last Will, Dazzler President, Secret War, Inversion, Logan is old, Hope & Cable, Cyclops goes to space, Apocalypse, Avengers disappear, 2099, Exiles, Bishop’s future, Jean on trial, and M Day to name quite a few. Bendis has also dropped hints in Miles Morales, Ultimate Spider-Man #3 that the worlds are converging and Ultimate Doom may very well have a hand it that after this issue’s events! May is so far away…
Another great character beat this issue was X-23’s despair over their situation. She laments how everywhere they go there is just evil, this time worse than what she’s accustomed to. Her frustration and hopelessness were heartbreaking to me as she finally collapsed from her rage, wishing for things to be better. Turn the page and she gets a glimmer of hope as the Jeans appear, reminding me of Superman’s first costumed appearance in Kingdom Come. Not having read a lot with X-23, I appreciated the contrast with Logan as I couldn’t see him expressing such feelings.
Bendis really knows how to bring these characters together in amusing ways. Part of the fun of these reality hopping adventures is seeing how everyone interacts to their differences. Probably my favorite bit was Ultimate Kitty and All-New Bobby meeting as Miles awkwardly witnessed their conversation. Facepalm is always good for comedy gold! Asrar depicts everyone’s body language perfect in the scene.
It cracked me up that Ultimate Bobby has himself on Google alert. I found it a sad commentary on society that as All-New Bobby faced the police most bystanders found it more important to recall his name or film the altercation with their cell phone than offer some kind of help, other than beer. We’ve seen a scene like this before in the movie version of Kick-Ass and it just bums me out. I can understand being afraid of being hurt and therefore staying away and not pitching in to help, but the whole “I’ve gotta catch it and post it to social media” thing does not speak to the best part of ourselves. Bendis provides us with another funny beat of the Bobbies interacting, one annoyed with the other now that Ultimate Bobby can never show his face in Atlanta again and All-New Bobby stating, “You’re welcome!” Even better, the X-Men found it hilarious that the Icemen annoy each other as much as they annoy their teammates!
As they approach Latveria, the Jeans team up and help Henry break from Doom’s control and Asrar sells the panel when Beast can finally turn the tables on his captor! Now we are finally back to the beginning of the tale and Bendis punctuates it with a dramatic finale as Miles goes camo, Jean shouts his name in alarm and an explosion rocks the castle grounds!
For me, this has been the most enjoyable issue of All-New X-Men that I’ve covered. Bendis deftly weaves in humor, action, and characterization and gives everyone a great moment. Miles is more prominent this time out, without overshadowing anyone in the book, which made me far more happy than just having him sit at the table awkwardly for a joke. Asrar wowed me with his art as well, both in terms of composition and the characters’ “acting”. Looking forward to the conclusion!
My Grade: A
Javi’s Huh?: Doom can see Miles in camo mode?