Once upon a time, this issue would have been a much bigger deal. What we have here is one of only three crossovers ever between the 616 Universe and the Ultimate Universe. Once upon a time, this sort of thing was strictly verboten.
Perhaps time and Brian Michael Bendis make fools of us all.
For whatever reason, All-New X-Men is going to have an extended crossover with the Ultimate Universe, where we will no doubt face all manner of hijinks and shenanigans. It wasn’t too long ago that they had an extended crossover with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Is Bendis just casually taking his time-displaced team on a tour of Marvel’s publishing output? What’s next, a crossover with the Inhumans?
But I kid. And I kid ’cause I love.
I was as big a skeptic as anybody when All-New X-Men was first announced. The teenage original X-Men stranded in the present day? Please! But Bendis easily won me over with two things: strong characters and enjoyable dialogue, two of his strongest talents. And All-New X-Men #13 is a perfect example of both.
This is a transitional issue, wrapping up storylines from the previous comics, and kicking off the next big adventure. Bendis spends the issue just hanging out with his characters, both the All-New X-Men and Cyclops’ recruits from Uncanny X-Men. The adult members of the team are off to read the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, leaving the youngsters to hang out and try to figure out what they’re going to do next.
Both teams play very well together. The dialogue is a true highlight as it bounces freely between characters. Young Bobby Drake remains a constant source of pure, unadulterated joy. Young Jean Grey is easily coming into her own. One of the Cuckoos makes a Nate Grey joke that is all manner of gigglish – if you understand the reference. And Angel and X-23 are so cute together that they might just work as a couple.
The real thrust of the story picks up when the All-New X-Men decide to go help a new mutant deal with the sudden onset of her new powers. It’s a classic X-Men set-up, and Bendis handles it wonderfully. The girl is scared, but the X-Men are pros, and they do their best to put her at ease. Again, I can’t say enough about the dialogue. It carries the whole issue in ways that only a Bendis book can.
The Ultimate crossover comes from the fact that the girl’s new power apparently involves opening portals to other dimension in the Multiverse. Seems simple enough. The issue ends with the X-Men transferring over, with the actual crossover picking up next issue.
Not that I mind in the slightest. The All-New X-Men and the Uncanny X-Men are some of my favorite characters in comics right now. Reading a whole issue of them cracking jokes and hanging out is a lot of fun.
It helps that All-New X-Men #31 is drawn by the always impressive Stuart Imm–wait, what? Who is Mahmud Asrar? No, seriously, I read through this whole comic, and it wasn’t until just now, checking the credits for this review, that I realize this comic was drawn by the regular artist, Stuart Immonen. Believe me, that’s a compliment! Immonen’s art is some of the best in the industry. Asrar does such an amazing job on pencils that I just didn’t realize there’d been a change! Immonen and colorists Marte Gracia and Jason Keith create a bright, colorful superhero world, so that even a ‘talking heads’ issue is fun to look at. Every character is expertly crafted, their faces a wide mix of emotions, both good and bad. Asrar is ready to be considered among the pros.
A crossover between the All-New X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man sounds like a pretty weird premise from the outset. But considering Bendis writes both books, and that they’re both two of his very best, I have no doubt he’s got a lot of fun in store for us.
All-New X-Men #31
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colortists: Marte Garcia and Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Rating – 9/10.