Artist: Chris Bachalo
I originally wasn't going to get this series, hence the reason I'm reviewing it so late. I did however decide to get it as it had decent reviews, but the main reason was the upcoming Battle of the Atom crossover which features this.
When Cyclops's X-Men visit the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning looking for new recruits, Emma Frost gets in a heated discussion with the Stepford Cuckoos. Also back at the New Charles Xavier School for Mutants the students pick their own dorms.
This was another fantastic issue, and although I still feel this series is yet to hit it's full potential, it remains to be interesting, and entertaining. Brian Michael Bendis has been doing a cracking job of both his X-Men series', as both this, and All-New X-Men have been amazing, and although they are both very different, they still have similarities. Again like last issue this one wasn't exactly as I was expecting, but as was the case with that issue, Bendis once again made up in other areas. The dialogue throughout the entire issue was brilliant, and really made the issue very dramatic. It also added depth to the issue, which it really needed, as although the dialogue saved the issue from being poor, there were still points that bugged me. Mainly the fact that the events during this issue were a all over the place, changing settings without even a hint, or mention of the fact. There were however some fun points in this issue, and that came with the way Bendis handled the students in this issue, as the dialogue between these character's was simply amazing, and at times very funny, although I'll talk more about the students later on in my review. Bendis did however do an excellent job of adding some emotion to this issue, which yet again helped to pull the overall quality up.
I have to say that I seem to be enjoying Chris Bachalo's art even more with each passing issue, and although I still far from love it, I have been enjoying it throughout this series, and feel that his style really suits the series, as well as Bendis' style of writing. I really liked how Bachalo drew all the character's, both from Cyclops' X-Men, and Wolverine's, as although there were still small things about his artwork on these character's that bugged me, in general it was amazing, and much better than it's been in the past. I especially loved Bachalo's artwork during the sequence between the Stepford Cuckoos, and Emma, as although there were parts of this sequence that had plain white background, it really added mood, and suspense to the sequence, which really made it that much more exciting, and dramatic. I did however find the small panel that showed Emma, and Cyclops during the events of Avengers vs. X-Men to be slightly unappealing, as they looked very awkward, and unrealistic. Bachalo also did an excellent job of the minor action sequence that took place during this issue, showcasing the best of his skills, and why most people love his art. His colours were also once again superb, and the best thing about this issue, and I especially loved how every character apart from Emma, and the Cuckoos were whitened out whilst they were telepathically talking, as it really helped them to stand out.
The main thing that I was looking forward to was seeing how Cyclops' X-Men got on at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Now it wasn't exactly the meeting that I was looking forward to, as it featured in All-New X-Men #10 &11, but rather the comparisons. Now to be fair this was actually nothing like the events of All-New X-Men, as besides the fact that they make their appearance, and end the issue leaving with some students, it doesn't go into much discussion, as Bendis obviously wanted to leave that till the All-New X-Men issues, not making both issues too alike. I do however see why fans were upset over the revelation as to who would join Cyclops' team, as with the big question over the All-New X-Men #11, for that question to have already been answered, and in a much less dramatic way would have upset me too, but luckily I read All-New X-Men first.
The main feature of this issue was actually the mental discussion between Emma, and the Cuckoos, with Emma trying to persuade the Cuckoos to come with her, and the Cuckoos unhappy with the fact that she left them here in the first place, wanting Emma to know that they weren't happy with her. Now this was a brilliant sequence, and this alone is what made up for the fact that the rest of the issue was all over the place. The emotion between both Emma, and the Cuckoos was brilliantly shown by both Bendis, and Bachalo, as you could see the mischief, and anger on the Cuckoos faces, whilst also seeing the regret, sorrow, and worry on Emma's throughout, and it really made the interaction that much more dramatic. It was however the dialogue in the end that made this as good as it was, and like he's been doing throughout this series, Bendis just hit the nail on the head with this dialogue, and he really can make up for a lot of annoyances with it.
Whilst this is going on the students back at the New Charles Xavier School for Mutants are deciding where they'll be sleeping. Although this wasn't much I loved the fact that we got to see more from the students, as their development has been what's intrigued me the most. The way Bendis writes these character's, and the dialogue he gives them is just amazing, and add the right amount of fun to the series, whilst the overall tone remains serious. It was also nice to see how they acted in a more relaxed environment, as so far they've been seeing some unusual thing stuff that they wouldn't see if it wasn't for being a member of Cyclops' X-Men. There was however also a little bit of excitement that centred around the students, and although I won't go into details, as to avoid spoilers, I will say that it was a nice addition.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILER AHEAD!
Final thing I'll talk about in this review is about Magik, and how she acted strange near the end of the issue. Now I may be wrong but the only member of the X-Men to have been a part of the Phoenix Force that hasn't shown any signs of difference has been Magik, so it was nice to see that she wasn't left out, and it just took longer. It was also a brilliant, and mysterious way to leave the issue, and with it continuing into the next storyline it was even more fitting, and I look forward to seeing the development of this.
This was possibly the weakest issue so far in the series, but if so it wasn't by much, and was still overall amazing. The issue was all over the place, and once again slightly disappointed on the continuation of the previous cliffhanger. It did however make up in other areas, with brilliant dialogue, as well as some fun, and mysterious sequences. Overall the series is still not at it's full potential, but it's still interesting, and I'm sure it will reach it's full potential soon. I would highly recommend this issue, as although like all the issues so far it's lacking in certain areas, it was interesting, and I for one want to read more of it.