Artist: Stuart Immonen
This has been one of my favourite Marvel NOW! series, as although it's often been inconsistent, having some really high moments followed by poor ones, it has generally been a very fun, and exciting series. Also with the announcement of Battle of the Mutants I'm even more excited about this series, as I am about the other X-Men series.
The battle between the X-Men, and Mystique's gang comes to a head, but is the young Jean Grey in control of her powers, or will she turn into the Dark Phoenix?
This was a great issue, but it wasn't quite as good as last issue, and the big cliffhanger from last issue wasn't continued as well as it could have. None the less Brian Michael Bendis did a good job of this issue, and there were some really clever development points throughout. The character interaction was also handled brilliantly, with some being very amusing. The action was also handled very well, with some interesting points throughout, with both sides having their moments. I also loved how there was a bit of mystery to this issue, as it kept me questioning points. There were however some points that felt a little weird, and disappointing, but nothing to drop the quality much.
Stuart Immonen once again produced some amazing art on this issue, with brilliant detail that was for the most part perfect, having very few imperfections. The layout was probably one of the best things about his art this time round, as like usual it was very dynamic, adding depth to the issue, as well as more drama, and at times suspense. The action sequences best showed this, as they were very explosive, and exciting, with the layout adding to that. The facial expressions were also handled perfectly, as you could easily tell what the character's were feeling, and I especially loved the young Iceman's reaction to a certain event, with Immonen's art being the main reason for this.
WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD!
Now I don't like giving away spoilers, but this was a subject that I felt strongly about in this issue, and it was revealed near the start. I'm talking about whether young Jean had truly turned into the Phoenix. It was quickly revealed that she hadn't, and that she'd projected that into the enemies brains to get them off guard, accidentally doing the same to her own team. I found this very clever, but at the same time it kind of spoiled the cliffhanger from last issue, as I was expecting to see Jean as the Phoenix properly. As I said though it was clever, and unique, and the way Jean showed progression in her new found powers also interested me a lot.
The fight between the X-Men, and Mystique's gang was the other main feature of this issue, with the battle between the two coming to an end (at least for now). The fight itself was very explosive, and exciting, and I extremely enjoyed it. It also had a lot of drama, and some interesting turning points, which really stood out. It also had some interesting dialogue, that added humour, as well as atmosphere to the fight, also adding depth. There was also some very clever points during this fight as well, and although it wasn't necessarily the best way to end the problems between the X-Men, and Mystique, it wasn't bad. I did however also feel that HYDRA wasn't involved as much as they could have.
Lady Mastermind tried to stand out in this issue, using her powers in an attempt to manipulate they young Jean, as well as the other members of the X-Men. Now this probably could have been handled better as well, but to be honest it was done justice, and it would have probably been harder to do better without dropping in quality somewhere else. The illusions from Lady Mastermind were however very interesting, with one in particular being very interesting.
This was a tremendous issue, and although it wasn't as good as last issue, with some disappointing points, it was still very entertaining, and fun. It also had some amazing action, and brilliant dialogue, with real depth, and emotion. I'd still highly recommend this issue, as despite the disappointments it was still a very interesting, and exciting issue.