The time-displaced team has agreed to be mentored by their long-time foe, Magneto. X-Men Blue #2 attempts to explain why.
X-Men Blue #2
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 26, 2017
Collected in: X-Men Blue v1: Strangest
|WHAT IS MAGNETO HIDING?
MAGNETO has joined the X-MEN, but due to their long history, not everyone on the team trusts him…especially not JEAN GREY. With tensions rising between teammates, can the X-MEN come together to be a cohesive force for good? Or will ulterior motives and personal quests derail the entire enterprise? At the end of the day…who can be trusted?
Things got off to a good start in X-Men Blue #1 a couple of weeks ago with a well-executed, though occasionally overly silly, old-school super villain fight. That issue ended with a cliffhanger revealing that our young X-Men heroes were being mentored by their oldest foe, Magneto. Given that Magneto was already an on-again, off-again heroic figure even back in the 70s it isn’t actually all that big a deal for long time readers, but this issue does suitably make it clear that it is a big deal for this version of the X-Men. I am not 100% sure I buy into the idea that they still regard him skeptically due to their time travel adventures, but it works well enough. Perhaps if they had only just been transported to the current timeline a few issues back that would work better, but they’ve been here for years (our time) now.
However, if we discard that idea there are still plenty of other good reasons why they shouldn’t trust Magneto, so while the reasoning may not be sound the conclusion actually is. What we have then is them playing along with the idea that Magneto genuinely wants to help them, while preparing to defend themselves against his (sudden, but inevitable) betrayal. The twist here is that he may actually have their best interests at heart, and not even his own warped version of what those interests are. This leads into its own cliffhanger for the issue, so we’ll have to revisit it next time around.
Where X-Men Blue #1 was a return to the olden days of straight-up superheroes versus super villains, X-Men Blue #2 is a return to the soap-opera drama of the 80s and 90s. Bobby is back to having issues with his boyfriend, which is pretty much par for the course for him (just swapping out “girlfriend” for “boyfriend). Beast is hiding something dark and mysterious. Cyclops is overthinking everything. Angel is pretty much a background character at the moment just hanging around because he’s expected to be on the roster. Only Jean is moving in a different direction, and not just because she is the team leader.
For a long time Jean Grey — the original one — was defined almost solely by one of two things: her relationship with Cyclops (and occasionally with Logan), or her relationship with the Phoenix Entity. The latter of these was so overwhelming that it effectively destroyed any potential character growth she had. The younger incarnation is largely unburdened from this, although it remains a looming threat (and one her upcoming solo series seems intent on tackling). The idea has clearly been to move away from Phoenix stories as best they can, while still leaving the door open. Making her the team lead, and giving her a degree of cleverness, helps immensely. Her seeing through Magneto’s “I’ll let you read my mind freely” gambit is just one example of that.
Jorge Molina and Matt Milla bring us the art again this issue, and it remains suitably cartoony. Molina has always struck me as a better action artist than as a dramatist, but he does fine work here. His style does tend to shift a bit throughout the issue, but on the whole it comes together well. It may not be what I would consider a traditional X-Book style, but it fits this title. Issues like this don’t need to be super-flashy, and Molina is able to tone his style down to match that. There are also no obviously mustache-twirling moments like X-Men Blue #1 had.
X-Men Blue #2 is an issue primarily dedicated to getting subplots rolling which will presumably drive the book forward for the foreseeable future. Most of the characters have plots of their own to follow, and there is certainly potential in most of them. The “Bobby has significant other problems” card is probably a wee-bit too old hat compared to some of the others, and I think they might be relying a bit too much on the fact that it’s a gay relationship to carry the plot. We’ll have to wait and see where they are going with it, though, since it is a plot that is only just forming. It would probably help if the book identified who his boyfriend is at some point, because I feel like we’re supposed to know but I’m in the dark on this one.
There’s a lot going on here, and while we’re still waiting on the emergence of an actual plot beyond “it’s the young X-Men book” there’s still plenty to dive into. Writer Cullen Bunn is obviously at home writing these characters, and his art team has a lot of talent in it. Given that I have never felt particularly enamored with the “young X-Men brought to the present” storyline, the fact that they have gotten me to care at all is pretty impressive. I’m looking forward to what X-Men Blue #3 and Jean Grey #1 each have to offer when they come out.