Artist: Stuart Immonen
This has been one of my favourite series in Marvel NOW!, and although it doesn't always deliver, having had some poor issues, it's still been very fun, and has kept me drawn in. I've also loved seeing the development of the younger X-Men in their new environment, and overall it's been a brilliant series.
As the X-Men go after Mystique's trail, Mystique herself has a meeting to attend, with none other than Madame Hydra.
This was an excellent issue, and although it's not the best the series has produced, it's been the best in a long while, and isn't far behind the even better issues. Brian Michael Bendis has really got a handle on both X-Men series, and although on average his Uncanny X-Men's been better, this has been the one that's excited me the most time and time again. I've always lover the more fun based comics, as although the more serious tone of Uncanny's been working, when Bendis delivers on the fun, it really outweighs the serious. Bendis also really seems to understand character's, and more importantly character dialogue, as although you can argue that the actions of certain character's in his previous work has been out of character, it's hard to say that about their dialogue, and this was shown perfectly during this issue. There was also plenty of emotion in this issue, showing exactly how the character's felt, which was brilliant, and Bendis dialogue once again prevailed here. The action was also handled perfectly, with ton's of excitement, as well as adding drama, and suspense. There were also some other brilliant appearances from other character's that haven't yet featured in this series, as well as some mystery over what may happen later in this issue, or the next, which yet again adds suspense, as well a speculation.
The art in this issue was phenomenal, and this is probably the best art that Stuart Immonen has done all series. Don't get me wrong, his art is always great, but there have been times during this series where it has slipped in the detail department, and looked a little too rough. Anyway this wasn't the case this time, as the detail was near perfect, with very little imperfections. Immonen's layouts were also once again superb, and really added more depth, and drama to the issue, whilst also helping to set the tone. There were however two parts of Immonen's art that really stood out to me in this issue, and the first thing was his action sequences. They were nothing short of epic, and although the fights themselves weren't the best I've ever seen, it was hard to tell that when I saw Immonen's fabulous artwork. It was simply amazing, and really explosive, adding ton's of excitement, and suspense. The other thing that stood out to me in Immonen's art was the way he handled the character's facial expressions, especially during Kitty Pryde's small speech. Now Immonen usually does a great job at showing how the character's feel, but he did an outstanding job in this issue, as you could easily feel, let alone tell what the character's were feeling.
The start of this issue sees the continuation of how last issue ended, with the X-Men trying to track down Mystique by visiting Stark International, Mystique's last known location. Now I have felt that the whole Mystique story has went on a little too long without a great deal of proper development, and although it has been very suspenseful, I'd have liked something more to have happened before now. It did however go up a gear in this issue, which I was very glad about, and it looks like the story may be getting closer to it's conclusion. During the actual hunting of Mystique I loved how certain members of the younger X-Men (most notably Iceman) questioned Wolverine's abilities, which really added more humour to the issue.
Now the X-Men weren't the only ones that weren't happy with Mystique, as Lady Mastermind isn't happy with being kept out of the loop. This lead to a very interesting, and exciting discussion between Lady Mastermind, and Mystique, and the way it was handled was simply amazing. This also continued to show how Bendis is brilliant at writing dialogue, and creating friction, as although no physical fighting took place, there was a lot of harsh word slung about, and the way each character reacted to certain statements was brilliant, and the dramatic tone, along with the suspense really made this a tremendous sequence.
Lady Mastermind wasn't the only person that Mystique would have words with, as the arrival of Silver Samurai, as well as Madame Hydra would lead to a meeting between Mystique, and Madame Hydra. Now I won't go into details about this meeting, as to avoid spoilers, but I will give my thoughts on the sequence. To be honest it was no surprise that both Silver Samurai, and Madame Hydra would feature in a storyline sometime soon, as with them both going to feature in the upcoming film, The Wolverine, it was obvious that they'd make an appearance in a story, and more so a Wolverine story. I did however like that this was slightly subtle, with these character's not being the main villains, making it less obvious, and more natural. The words shared between Madame Hydra, and Mystique were also very interesting, and overall this was yet another brilliant sequence from this issue.
This issue would also show the reactions of both Mystique's group, and the X-Men over Havok's speech in Uncanny Avengers #5, where he talked about not wanting to be branded a mutant. Now I could talk about this for ages, but I'll shorten it down to my favourite part, the reaction from Kitty Pryde. Now Kitty has been one of my favourite female character's for a while now, as well as my favourite female X-Man. Basically she states how she's proud to be a mutant, and why, and that Havok isn't talking for her. Now there was a lot more to this than just that, but I felt it best not to mention, as it's a nice surprise to read. Anyway it was very emotional, and moving, as although she was neither upset whilst telling her tale, nor make others upset whilst telling it, she was getting a point across, and trying to inspire the younger X-Men, which was brilliant, and overall the sequence was handled perfectly.
Although this wasn't the best issue in this series it wasn't far behind, and was one of the better issues to have been told during this story. It had excitement, and suspense, whilst also having drama, and action, which were all brilliant. It was however the emotions, and passion of a certain character that made this issue brilliant for me, and overall the issue was amazing, and I hope it continues to be like this in the next issues. Due to this I'd easily recommend this issue, and the series so far, as although it's had it's moments, it's overall been outstanding, and very fun.