Uncanny X-Men #30 published 1/28/2015 Written by: Brian Michael Bendis Art by: Chris Bachalo Tim Townsend
I think there should be a law in comic books. If a writer abuses a popular convention or troupe of comic books it is immediately taken away from them like when your little brother shoved the crayon up his nose and was locked away from the Crayolas. In this case I would like to submit that Brian Michael Bendis can no longer use time travel ever. He has abused it far too many times and yet this week I cracked open “Uncanny X-Men” number thirty only to find an X-Man back in time talking to Professor Xavier. I then had to put my own wallet between my teeth to prevent myself from gnashing them into dust.
Yes, even though the original X-Men aren’t finished mucking up the time stream, it seems Bendis isn’t finished making time travel into Marvel’s best punchline. And what I was wondering was why Professor Xavier wasn’t a little more pissed that the future had stolen away his students and left them stranded decades in the future—and also in an alternate universe but let’s not get off track. In the book, Eva Bell decides that Scott Summers has gone off the deep end and the only way to stop him is to travel back in time to… wait a second. Bendis! Did you just steal your own X-Men story? The year was 2012 and Brian Michael Bendis wrote issue one of “All New X-Men” in which Beast is having a tiff with Cyclops and the only way he can think to fix things is to time travel back to the original X-Men. Good to know that every three years we can expect the same exact story to happen. Speaking of…
The entire premise for this book is a last request Charles Xavier left behind in his will. It seems he used his powers to lobotomize another problem mutant. But this mutant woke up and he has incredible but devastating power that is a danger to the—God damn it Bendis! Again? Why not give him some yellow spandex, a cape, and some long blonde hair and name him Sentry? Honestly, this new mutant even has a tragic accident happen to his family. Also? I’m going to spoil a lot of things in this story from this point on but I don’t feel bad about this for two very good reasons. First, this story involves time travel so essentially it’s pre-retconning itself. Second, all of this is getting scrubbed away in “Secret Wars” anyway so when I say Cyclops and Magik are blown to bits by a missile attack, realize I don’t take it at all seriously. The new mutant also shatters Emma Frost into a million diamond shards. So it’s nice to know Bendis doesn’t only steal from himself, he also steals from Grant Morrison.
The action in the book is actually pretty good. Chris Bachalo is fantastic as ever as he excels in the fight scenes, the frame where Emma punches the new mutant is a delight. But he also makes the more macabre elements really shine like when the new mutant knits himself back together after being caught in the missile attack and it is truly horrifying to see him paste the torn flesh to his bones as he regenerates. I also can’t completely slag off Bendis in this book, his dialogue is fantastic and snappy, some of the best banter I’ve ever read, downright witty. If he’d written an entire book of the X-Men just hanging out and being snippy with each other I would be singing a completely different tune but the story he’s attached to this book weighs it down like a hang glider made of granite.
Undeniably the worst part of this book is that at the end Eva Bell decides the best course of action is to bring Charles Xavier from the past. Great, so now we’ll have the entirety of the original X-Men here—and who knows? Maybe Charles will get stuck here like the others. I had so much hope for Eva Bell. When she was initially conceived, all she could do was manipulate the time around her, slowing down bullets or moving things around in the blink of an eye. My trepidation grew when she started the random time travel jumps. I remember thinking, “Shit, now Bendis has a magic time travel button.” Low and behold, the first chance he gets he sends her to the past. The whole point of traveling to the past in comics is so the protagonists can be reminded of a feeling or memory they’ve lost touch with. It’s so they can see the innocence, the wide-eyed optimism they once had. “Invincible” was able to convey this when Mark was lost in the multiverse by Angstrom Levi. Guardians from a future Earth were able to bridge the universes and help rescue Mark—among the Guardians was Atom Eve, much older and much more jaded by time. She told him point blank that her biggest regret was she never got the opportunity with him and Mark could see the cynicism the entire group had accumulated in his absence. He saw that he needed to be there—not because he was a great crime fighter but because he provided hope.