All-New X-Men Special #1 by Mike Costa (Comics Review)

With Marvel’s ongoing Battle of the Atom crossover event across the X-Men books, I’ve finally given in and started to read these books. I was already following Brian Wood’s X-Men but having read the first month’s worth of Battle of the Atom issues, I have this hankering to catch-up on both All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, mostly because these series are still “young” and the catch-up isn’t too daunting. There’s already a new issue of the former out, yesterday, and I’ll be reading it soon.

However, before I do any of that catch-up, I decided to read Mike Costa’s one-shot All-New X-Men Special #1, following an interview he did with CBR regarding the Arms of the Octopus mini-crossover he is writing across All-New X-MenIndestructible Hulk and Superior Spider-Man. It was a fun interview and it got me really interested in the story here, so I went ahead with reading the issue. I was expecting something a bit intriguing and entertaining. I ended up getting something that I really enjoyed on all levels, something that is worth rereading and is memorable.

All-New X-Men Special 01The issue starts of really whimsical as Hank McCoy aka Beast from the past talks about the “method of loci”, which he explains is “the act of associating things you wish to remember with familiar places or objects, allowing for feats of super-memorization”. In a bit of a subtle approach, this lays down who and what Hank is. He’s a super genius and a very highly-educated guy. This is all done through the narration, overlaid on scenes of the X-Men from the past (Bobby, Jean, Scott and Hank) as they take a day trip to New York, and remark on how life now is different from life then, the life that they know. It works really well together since Hank talks about the past in his narration while the team is exploring the future, their future, which is now their present.

The pace for the first few pages is rather leisurely, reflecting that the team is just out have some fun and takes things easy. Of course, the press of Humanity in Times Square makes the trip not-fun and the four decide to break into pairs and head-off to wherever they all want to go. And this eventually leads to a situation where Hank ends up fighting Doctor Octopus, who attacks a radiation specialist at the Empire State University. This in turn leads to a situation where Superior Spider-Man (the real Doctor Octopus, who has killed Peter Parker and taken over his body) arrives and fights off against his one-of-many iconic villains.

Whereas the first third of the issue is very low-key, as Mike Costa takes the time to introduce and set up the characters, the next two sections of the issue are a bit more hurried. There’s now an urgency in the script since there’s a supervillain around, someone who is crazy-mad with rage and needs to be put down.

All the banter between Superior Spider-Man and the All-new X-Men was really great. Otto Octavius as Spider-Man is quite entertaining in his jabs on the X-kids, as are the latter with their return jibes at the former. Of course, nobody other than Otto himself knows that Peter is dead and all that (an event that took place in Amazing Spider-Man #700), so there is some confusion on the part of the X-kids since they can’t reconcile the Spider-Man before them with the Spider-Man that they know from the past. It makes for a really entertaining read throughout.

Of course, Mike Costa also touches upon the fact that Otto-in-Peter’s-body knows that this Doctor Octopus before him is a fake, and there are some questions that the X-kids ask which he evades or plays off as unnecessary. And then come the final 2-3 pages, in which Otto is forced to accept that he can’t solve this mystery himself, and he needs the help of someone else, a major Marvel character who is an expert on a very specific form of radiation, the kind that this fake Doctor Octopus is bleeding off like a flood.

I really enjoyed the narration in the issue, all of which comes from Hank himself. He is the key POV character in the issue and we see everything coloured from his own view, and we get to see who he is and what he is and what kind of things he likes and the mental struggles and confusions he is dealing with right now, especially those of a romantic nature.

Mike Costa has really done a great job here with this issue and I can’t wait to see the next chapter.

The artists here are Kris Anka as penciller and Jordie Bellaire as the colourist and VC’s Cory Petit as the letterer with Alexander Lozano on the cover. For Kris, this is his first full issue on pencils and I think he does a pretty awesome job himself. It also helps that I’m not familiar with any of these characters, outside of the current ongoing All-New X-Men (and I haven’t yet read a single issue of Superior Spider-Man), so I’m able to approach the X-kids on a very level footing. I love the way that Kris draws them all. He gives them a really good look, both in and out of their costumes, and his Spider-Man looks pretty good too. Mike gives Kris lots of opportunities to do the big 2-page spreads and all, a promise that Kris delivers on quite handsomely. Combined with Jordie’s excellent colours, all soft and moody and “classic”, All-New X-Men Special #1 is definitely among my favourite reads of the week so far, and I’d even say that this could very well be one of my top picks for the month!

A really great issue. Good pacing. Great story. Great art. Excellent premise. Really neat cliffhanger.

Rating: 9.5/10

More All-New X-Men: #16 (Battle of the Atom Chapter 2).

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Posted on October 3, 2013, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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