X-MEN BLUE is coming to an end. I’ve been saying that for a while now, but the reality of it is finally setting in. September is the series’ last month, and while I feel like I should be a little sad, I’m mostly just disappointed. When a series ends, I expect an epic conclusion that keeps readers reading up until the last page (i.e. BATWOMAN Rebirth for all the DC fans). X-MEN BLUE #34 doesn’t do that. Even though there are only two issues left in the series, writer Cullen Bunn delivers a confusing, convoluted mess of a plot that would take months to clean up. Months that X-MEN BLUE doesn’t have.

X-MEN BLUE #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Back to the Future

Nineteen years in the future, the present day Magneto comes across the future versions of the original X-Men. They spend about half of the issue arguing about who made the future better or worse, with the reader only understanding around a quarter of what they’re talking about. In the other half of the issue, we see Magneto (back in the present timeline) trying to become a villain again. Or, maybe not. Bunn seems to be purposefully leaving a lot of things half-said, for whatever reason. This issue isn’t explicitly clear on anything.

Storm Encounters the Living Dead in X-MEN GOLD #34

Exposition Please

When comics deal with time travel, they need to have a strong sense of clarity. Jumping timelines is confusing. This is especially true when a writer doesn’t give a time-traveling arc enough time to develop organically. In the case of X-MEN BLUE #34, Bunn rushes through the time-traveling elements. As readers, we know practically nothing about this future world and its history. The future versions of the original X-Men don’t give us a lot of information and Magneto gives us even less.

Overall, the plot of X-MEN BLUE #34 lacks exposition. Readers need a little more background on a reality in order to understand what’s going on. This version of the future could have been interesting if Bunn had developed it a little more. With the series concluding so soon, a time-travel arc probably wasn’t such a good idea. We need more than a few issues to flesh this reality out.

X-MEN BLUE #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

The Endgame of X-MEN BLUE #34

Marvel is completely uprooting their current flagship X-Men titles in order to reinvent the franchise. Since both X-MEN GOLD and X-MEN BLUE have been a little underwhelming, I’m more than willing to let them go. However, for the transition from X-MEN GOLD and BLUE to the new UNCANNY X-MEN series to be smooth, the conclusions of the aforementioned series have to make a few things clear. For X-MEN BLUE, Bunn needs to sort out the Magneto problem and, partly, the time-displaced X-Men problem.

Kitty and Colossus’ Decades Long Romance: From the First Kiss to the Wedding

As confusing as X-MEN BLUE #34 is, I think it does begin to show Magneto’s slide back into evil. He reveals at the end of the issue that his “old ways” work best. By “old ways” I’m pretty sure he means evil. His classic red-and-purple suit solidifies that point and paves the way for the upcoming X-MEN BLACK Magneto one-shot.

As for the original X-Men, this issue highlights the dangers of keeping them around for too long in the current timeline. We’ve always known that they don’t really belong, but now it’s becoming a little too obvious. They really need to go home.

Worth Reading

X-MEN BLUE #34 is far from the series best issue. Still, thanks to Marcus To‘s artwork, it also isn’t the worst. To is one of the best artists to work on the X-MEN BLUE title. He consistently delivers compelling, action-filled panels that are both realistic and imaginative. The panels where the various heroes are using their powers against Magneto is my favorite part of the issue. Somehow, To is able to take a huge battle and bring it to life in only a few pages. To is set to stay on the X-MEN BLUE creative team until the end, which might be the only reason to pick up the last two issues.

X-MEN BLUE #34
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Veteran Marvel colorist Matt Milla has worked with To before, which is why their pencils and colors appear so seamless. Milla’s colorful and saturated palette heightens the drama in To’s battle scene without being overpowering. So often, colorists cloud pencils instead of enhancing them. With To and Milla, I think they’ve found the right balance. I definitely hope to see this creative duo in the future.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a light, X-Men read for the end of summer, X-MEN BLUE is not for you. Bunn is doing some very complicated work as he tries to wrap up a series that has thirty-plus issues. The result, as seen in X-MEN BLUE #34, isn’t pretty. The plot is complicated and lacks needed exposition. We get some Magneto characterization, but that too isn’t given the attention it deserves. Marvel is pushing for a new era of X-Men, which means the old era has to be shoved out the back door. Let’s just hope the new UNCANNY X-MEN series is worth it.

X-MEN BLUE #34 by Cullen Bunn, Marcus To, and Matt Milla
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
With X-MEN BLUE wrapping up next month, Bunn struggles to conclude the series with a compelling ending. The element of time-travel makes X-MEN BLUE #34 confusing and in need of some serious exposition, but Marcus To's beautiful illustrations help give the issue a few positive points.
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Confusing and Convoluted
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One Comment

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