Sunday, May 1, 2016

All-New X-Men #3 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Hopeless continues to do a great job getting into the kids' heads in this issue.  Despite the fact that we're dealing with a group of mutant teenagers who just broke into a police station, Hopeless makes their conversations feel totally natural, like they're arguing at the student union whether they should vote for Bernie or Hillary.

The Ghosts find themselves in a pickle when they discover that the cops have already circled the station by the time that they're ready to escape.  Hannah and "Juice," the two women on the team, argue that they're outmatched and need to surrender.  On the other hand, the guys fill out the spectrum of responses:  Sebastian is panicked, Jeremy (or Pillar) is aggressive (wanting to take the fight to the cops), and Thirst (or Austin) struggles in making a decision for the group.  Scott makes the astute -- if not terribly helpful at the moment -- comment that they just all need to lie on the floor of the station and wait for the cops to come, because mutants don't get a second chance to put down their weapons.  They are their weapons and the cops'll kill them on live TV.

But, a decision is made for them when the X-Men arrive to help address the situation.  They take down the guys (because the women decline to get involved) and then they all turn themselves into the police.  But, Jeremy regains consciousness at the wrong time and threatens the cops.  They order them to stand down, and Austin gets edgy, threatening to drown everyone.  Hopeless really does a great job of escalating this situation:  Hannah and Juice are pleading for everyone to be calm, and you turn the page not really sure what you're going to see happen.

The answer is that Scott finds himself.  Hank had sent in Pickles with his visor, and Scott emerges from the shadows, deflecting with his optic blast a bullet shot at Thirst.  With everyone recording him on their phones, he says that mutant kids should get to make mistakes without immediately getting killed for it.  He says that he's tired of hiding and pledges to win back the name "Cyclops."  The issue ends with him thanking Hank for believing in him and the team riding into the sunset...unaware of a grim epilogue that seems to involve Toad pledging to kill Scott.

The joy of this issue is more the character study of Scott and the Ghosts than the superhero shenanigans.  Hopeless makes an emotional pitch for tolerance here, and Marvel seems to be positioning this Scott as the real Scott, given the death of the older one.  It's a clever way to go, to be honest.  When Scott went bad and proceeded to get worse, it was hard to see how he was believably going to be able to become a good guy again.  (The "believably" part is important.   I've always rolled my eyes every time someone like Magneto or Colossus suddenly stops finding themselves in the crosshairs of law enforcement, even though they were the most-wanted person on Earth in the previous issue.)  Now, I'll admit that I hope that we somehow get to see San Francisco Scott at some point in the future, because I actually liked him.  But, for the time being, this approach works, too.

**** (four of five stars)

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