Brian Michael Bendis – using time travel – has brought the original X-men team from the past into the present day Marvel universe. Teenaged Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, and Iceman, have now seen their own future. Issues #4 and #5 play out the affects of these revelations on the X-men, and their community. Some spoilers follow for readers who have not read Avengers VS. X-men.
All New X-men: #4 and #5.
The fourth issue of Bendis’ new work on X-men is largely about Scott Summer’s reacting to seeing himself in the past. We are given a clear view of how far characters have moved from where they started. Young Iceman asks “I wonder what Scott [young Scott] thought of himself”. This questions forms the core of issue #4. Beast brought the X-men from the past to the present to make him feel regret for his mistakes – and particularly, feel profound shame for his most recent, criminal act: killing Professor Charles Xavier using the Phoenix Force.
Scott also gets wound up by seeing Jean Grey, alive and as he knew her when they first went to school together. There is one small panel Stuart Immonen has penciled where young Scott and Jean look at each other after meeting Scott in the present: Jean stares at Scott in silence with contempt. In issue #5, we see contempt toward Scott grow at Wolverine’s school: rage at Scott’s crime is being unfairly redirected at his past self.
While on the subject of attacks on Scott Summers, even his younger self has taken a swing: back in issue #4, Jean attacks present day Scott, and knocking his visor off. Young Scott jumps in to counter his older self’s indiscriminate energy blasts. Issue #4’s colourist, Marte Garcia, captures the battle creating a powerful spash page that is like watching a fireworks show.
What Scott thinks of himself forms the core of the story: specifically, how these attacks affect Scott Summer’s identity. Immonen constructs a key panel early in issue #4: sections of the characters faces, both the original X-men, Present day Scott, and Magneto, are arranged like a collage of photographs, positioned in neat rectangles to form a single face. the reader gets a sense of fractured identity from this image. If Scott is to continue to train new mutants and protect his community, he will need to keep his identity intact.
Whether this is possible remains to be seen. Their is a chance he has may be stuck on a path to becoming a new Magneto, instead of supporting Professor Xavier’s ideals.
Jean’s changing identity is also a key part of issue #5. Immonen provides a gift to the fans of X-men with a detailed splash page in issue #5: it’s the complete history of Jean Grey. Key moments from her career as a member of the X-men brought together. This time travel experience has forced Jean into an active leadership role. For a character who is consistently associated with the rise and fall of the phoenix force in the Marvel universe, it’s surprising and to see Jean Grey start a new direction in a new story.