By Brian Michael Bendis, Mahmud Asrar and Marte Gracia
This is the issue of All-New X-Men that will blow the message boards up: the one that has the team and X-23 making a visit to the Ultimate Universe. While this was no secret because the solicitations spilled the beans for everyone a while ago, it was still interesting to see how things came to be.
There really isn’t too much that Brian Michael Bendis hasn’t conquered. He’s done some good independent work, made the Avengers one of Marvel’s highest selling titles, and now he’s working his magic in the X-verse. One of the most enjoyable things about this issue is the panel time he’s been giving X-23. Her telling Jean that she isn’t doing the whole girl talk thing is a cool moment for her that shows that she’s grown up a little. This issue is also pretty funny, as is usual with Bendis, but any time someone makes a Nate Gray joke, you have to chuckle. While we all knew the crossover with the Ultimate Universe was coming, Bendis did it in a fairly creative way. While you may have expected Beast to somehow have created the dimensional portal, it was actually a bit of a curve-ball.
The art this issue is done by Mahmud Asrar, which is a step down from both Sara Pichelli and Stuart Immonen. Asrar has many panels that lack detail, which can be distracting and several faces also lack distinction. While Asrar does deliver a nice final page, the rest of the book is too uneven, especially when compared to the other artists who have worked on it before him. Asrar’s style is that of a minimalist, we are not given much more than what is essential, and that hurts the book overall.
While the writing was very good and very funny, the art takes a dip from where it usually is. Bendis continues to impress on this title with his witty banter and character development. Mahmud Asrar’s work needs to improve to up the overall quality of the book. He has a lot of great artists to live up to on this book, but seems capable of it. All-New X-Men continues to be a must read for fans of the band of merry mutants.