X-MEN BLUE #25 by Cullen Bunn, Jorge Molina, Matt Milla, Mike Perkins and Andy Troy
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
X-MEN BLUE #25 is exactly what this series needed to return to its former glory. It's action packed but is still able to focus on the larger plot. It has a lot of characters but it avoids confusion. It may be different than what readers signed up for with issue #1, but that's what comics do: they change. And in this case, change is good.
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X-MEN BLUE isn’t the series it was way back in issue #1. The time-displaced X-Men are out of the picture, along with their teenage dreams for a better future. In their place, writer Cullen Bunn recently added a slew of new characters and plot lines that have offered more confusion than entertainment. I was close to abandoning X-MEN BLUE, a series I loved at its inception. In comparison to other X-Men titles, it just wasn’t as good. And then X-MEN BLUE #25 came along.

Ordinarily, I don’t think one issue can turn an entire series around. Good characterization is built over time and storylines need numerous issues to develop. But, there are always exceptions to the rule and X-MEN BLUE #25 is one of those exceptions. Writer Cullen Bunn and artists Jorge Molina, Matt Milla, Mike Perkins and Andy Troy’s latest issue is one of the best in the series to date. Not only does it change the direction for X-MEN BLUE, it also makes the series a real contender in a world full of X-Men titles.

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The third installment in the “Cry Havok” arc begins with Polaris mourning. Malice is no longer possessing her, but the ramifications of her actions are apparent. Nightshade’s friends are critically injured and the Madripoor house is in ruins.

x-men blue #25
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The scene shifts to the Lighthouse where Magneto met Havok in the last issue. Havok warns Magneto that Bastion’s Sentinels are about to release Mothervine, which will cause over half of Earth’s population to spontaneously mutate. Overnight, mutants will become the majority species. Still, Havok’s place doesn’t impress Magneto and he attacks the team of supervillains. The Master of Magnetism takes down Miss Sinister and Bastion easily enough, but Havok proves to be a formidable foe. It’s only a little vial of mutant growth hormone that allows Magneto to escape the fight unscathed.

Back in Madripoor, Xorn takes a look at Malice’s victims. He assures Polaris that he can heal them, but the process won’t be fast. Briar Raleigh brings Daken back to the X-Mansion and Raleigh helps Polaris create a new team of X-Men (the “new” Blue Team) consisting of Jimmy Hudson, Blood Storm, Nightshade, Daken, Xorn, and Polaris. When Magneto returns, bloody and bandaged, Briar assures him that the X-Men can stop the Mothervine and save the world. That’s what the X-Men do, after all.

Do Not Go Gently

The great thing about X-MEN BLUE #25 is it’s really a double issue. At the end of Polaris and Magneto’s story, the scene shifts to the time-displaced X-Men, who’re lost in deep space. Thanks to a meteor shower, Danger Room is unable to repair the ship and get the X-Men back to Earth. With no hope in sight, Danger uses some fancy technology to psychically transport the four remaining X-Men to a “happy place” so they don’t die in pain. For Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Cyclops, this happy place is Xavier’s circa 1963.

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Cyclops is surprised to see Jean there (since she was transformed into a Poison in VENOM #163) but he eventually realizes that it isn’t the real Jean. Beast is able to convince the love-sick Cyclops to leave Danger’s makeshift paradise. Once he’s back on the ship, Cyclops begins to wonder if the Jean he saw was the real Jean. Could it be possible that she isn’t really gone?

The New and the Old

X-MEN BLUE #25 is, essentially, a reboot of the old X-MEN BLUE series without all of the fuss reboots typically entail. Instead of canceling the series and creating a new one, Bunn used what he had to make something fresh and exciting. It’s very different than what we’ve seen before from the series, but comics have to change if they want to stay relevant. Though I enjoyed reading about the time-displaced X-Men, I’m really glad to see a team made out of characters who rarely receive the spotlight.

x-men blue #25
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The inclusion of the short story at the end (called “Meanwhile”) is both a bad decision and a good decision. While the issue still would’ve been strong without it, the story does give readers some perspective. While the original Blue team might not be around, they aren’t completely gone.

At the same time, by including this story, Bunn takes the focus off of Polaris’ new team. Suddenly, the stars become the same X-Men we’ve seen over and over again. Still, I enjoyed reading the story, especially since it brought in some more morbid themes that reminded me of some of the grittier X-Men series from the past.

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Is Emma Frost Really a Villain?

Since SECRET EMPIRE, Emma’s been treated as an antagonist. A lot of people don’t like the fact that she changed sides so quickly after the death of Cyclops. However, I argued in another article that Emma Frost deserves to express her emotional trauma — even if that expression isn’t necessarily healthy.

In X-MEN BLUE #25, Emma’s anger and resentment begin to crack and the Emma we had for most of the 2000s begins to shine through. While she doesn’t suddenly abandon Havok, Magneto manages to encourage some mistrust. When Magneto criticizes Havok’s band of villains for having ulterior motives, Emma agrees. Magneto also recognizes that Emma, unlike Miss Sinister, actually wants what’s best for Mutantkind. She isn’t naturally evil. She’s just trying to do what Cyclops would have wanted her to do.

x-men blue #25
Image Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

I think in future issues, Emma will become more and more distrustful of Havok. She might even be what breaks Havok’s grand scheme. Maybe, after defeating her lover’s evil brother in battle, she can finally escape her demons and move on with her life.

Stranger Lines

The “Meanwhile” story offers two new artists to the X-MEN BLUE series: Mike Perkins and Andy Troy. Perkins’ style is dramatically different than Molina’s, but since the two stories are clearly separated, the contrast isn’t harsh. The new artists do a solid job of illustrating a scene with two very different backgrounds (which can be tricky) but unfortunately, Troy’s coloring inhibits the drawings from reaching their fullest potential.

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Perkins own renderings aren’t perfect and frequently struggle with proportion issues. The lines around the panels are messy and the overall effect is the opposite of polished. Still, I think it’s ultimately Troy’s use of saturated primary colors that hurts the illustrations. A few panels, particularly those at Xavier’s, show some shading and dimension but overall, the colors flatten figures and shapes instead of making them pop off of the page.

X-Men Blue #25 on ComiXology
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Final Thoughts

X-MEN BLUE #25 is the beginning of a new era for X-MEN BLUE. Things are a lot different now, and for some readers, that may be a deterrent. A new team means new characters and new motives. The squeaky-clean consciences of the teenage X-Men are nothing like the rag-tag bunch Polaris manages to gather in this issue. But, I still encourage any and all X-Men fans to give this issue — and the series — a chance. The new X-MEN BLUE is a great example of a successful reboot that could become one of the best X-Men titles of the summer.

X-MEN BLUE #26 comes out April 25! Until then, don’t forget to support the creators of X-MEN BLUE #25 and ComicsVerse by purchasing this issue over at ComiXology!

2 Comments

  1. Clayton

    April 15, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I’m so excited for the new roster. I like this new team and I like the fact that Polaris is their new mentor. I also love their outfits better than the one from X-M Gold. Polaris was the one who gathered the crew and not Daken.

    Reply

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