This week, we rejoin the All-New X-Men’s struggle to defend Miami from the Goblin Queen’s demon hordes as writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Mark Bagley continue to prove you can teach a young Beast new tricks.
All-New X-Men #16 (Marvel Comics)
Character-wise, Marvel’s older Beast has been quite polarizing for several years now, so it was a treat to see him raked over the coals over in Inhumans Vs. X-Men #1 (also out this week). Despite the crimes of Hank McCoy’s older self, I’ve been impressed with the work Hopeless has been doing on his younger counterpart. It’s some much-needed character rehabilitation for a mutant who should be a whole lot more loveable.
You see, after spending some time with Hollywood movie star Doctor Strange, young Beast began to dabble in magic (he must be a Cumberbatch fan). And what a time to pick up this new hobby, because the Goblin Queen from the Secret Wars ‘Inferno’ mini-series wants to bring her wacky demons – and mutated pet Nightcrawler – to Earth-616 … or whatever it’s called after Jonathan Hickman made a mess of the universe then disappeared into the multiverse with Reed Richards.
On the opposite end of the characterization spectrum, Hopeless’ take on Madelyne Pryor is … interesting. She’s a Goblin Queen who just wants to have fun by wreaking havoc in Miami. It’s been a long time since I read the original ‘Inferno’ event, so I can’t quite remember if Jean Grey’s clone was this flip, but her casual attitude definitely makes this a lighter X-Men tale – something in short supply these days.
I will say, ignoring the fact that the Goblin Queen’s a clone of the All-New X-Men’s former teammate Jean Grey with horns and a devil tail was a real missed opportunity. What would young Cyclops think? He’s seen his older self incinerated by Black Bolt and now he’s battling a woman who looks like the love of his young life and, oh yes, she commands a legion of demons.
I mean, I’d certainly have a question or two.
Despite this nitpick, All-New X-Men #16 is another solid installment from this very consistent creative team. We now know writer Cullen Bunn will take over ownership of the time-displaced mutants in X-Men: Blue. I just hope he carries over many of Hopeless’ character contributions – because there have been a lot.
And with the surprise ending to this issue’s battle, we know this story’s far from over. (Sorry for the vagueness, I hate spoilers).
I’m also curious to see where Bagley will go once Marvel puts a period on this series. In my opinion, these past few issues have been some of the strongest work I’ve seen from this artist in a long time. It’d be fun to see him revisit Spider-Man post-Clone Conspiracy next, though he’s always welcome in the X-universe.
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