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Apr 26

All-New X-Men #8

Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

We’re in another of those odd lulls between storylines concluding, it seems, which I guess is to be expected when there’s a crossover on the go.  So let’s do All-New X-Men #8, which is a Beast solo issue guest starring Doctor Strange.

It gets off to a deeply aggravating start.  Remember how issue #7 ends with Cyclops apparently dead, crushed when the catacombs cave in on top of him?  Well, issue #8 just picks up with him in hospital.  I mean, yes, he’s unconscious and he’s badly injured and everything, but seriously.

That’s not how you resolve a cliffhanger, is it?  I mean, of course we all knew he wasn’t going to die.  But that’s not the point, is it?  The tension is how he gets out of it.  Skipping straight to him in hospital, and saying “oh yeah, Pickles teleported him out”… that’s a cop-out.  Either the previous issue oversold the ending, or this one needed to actually show him being rescued (even if that would spoil the purity of it being a Beast spotlight issue), but what they did here?  Doesn’t work.

Never mind.  Let’s move on.  The set-up for this issue is simple enough.  Hank is miserable because everything is going wrong.  They’re out of their depth; they’re losing to complete no-hopers like the Toad.  He thought they could make this work but they don’t belong here and they should all go home.  All this, by the way, is a perfectly decent angle for Hank because it nicely parallels the thought processes of the older Hank from “this seems like a good idea” to “what the hell was I thinking”, but it doesn’t face the same problems of justifying Big Hank’s original decision.

So Hank, the arch-rationalist, thinks to hell with it – if I don’t have a scientific solution, I’ll find Dr Strange and just ask him to send us back.  The story kind of blurs two ideas here – Hank’s general scepticism of magic, and the idea that resorting to magic is “cheating”, which is really more true on a narrative level than a scientific one, but it works well enough.  The story then unfolds in the time-honoured manner, as Hank teams up with Dr Strange to fight a magical threat, overcomes his hostility to magic, and realises that it can’t be used as a cheat anyway.  That’s because magic is just as rule-bound in its way (and, arguably, the idea that you can’t break the story is more of a magical concept than a scientific one).

Still, the story does that little arc efficiently enough.  I like the fact that it doesn’t go down the usual route of having the narrow minded science man learn that there are things beyond his ken; instead, it makes the case that Hank’s worldview can accommodate magic, because it’s not as arbitrary as it appears.  At the end of the story, Hank is sent on his way to earn his way back to the past by solving the problem himself.  Oh, and he gets a magical trinket which is presumably going to come in handy in the Apocalypse crossover.

Artist Paco Diaz wouldn’t be the first name to come to mind for a story about the insanity of magic – he’s a very clean, traditional superhero artist – but he actually works quite well here, helped by some nice colouring decisions which effectively present some panels simply as line art.  The expanses of white are a lot more striking than the usual bombardment of colour would be.

Precisely why Strange doesn’t just send the X-Men back – well, that’s something the story glosses over.  Strange implies that he can’t simply return the original X-Men but never actually gives a clear reason why not, beyond the fact that it would be “cheating”.  As I say, there’s some sleight of hand going on between actual in-story reasons and “we can’t do that because it would be a rubbish ending”.  Perhaps Strange really does mean that he can’t do it because it wouldn’t work as a story.  Or maybe they’re just glossing over it.

The absence of an explicit reason is all the more noticeable because the story actually has one right on hand.  Since Strange has to be doing something in order for a team-up to take place, the book goes for an unfashionable approach – it plugs the current Doctor Strange storyline, in which magic is starting to fail thanks to the attack from the Empirikul.  This is useful, since it explains why Hank has anything useful to contribute to Strange in the first place – but it would also provide an obvious explanation for why magic can’t send the X-Men home just now.  Clearly the story doesn’t want to go for a solution with “just now” tacked on the end, and is more concerned to seal off this sort of angle entirely, and establish the ground rules that the X-Men are going to have to get back through their own efforts.

If, of course, they ever do.  It’s a little surprising to see this concept rearing its head again, eight issues in – I rather thought everyone had just forgotten about it by now and we were simply running with the idea that the younger X-Men are divergent versions of the characters who are never going to go back.  Dennis Hopeless seems to be setting up a story where the X-Men have to earn their way home, which sounds great in theory, but could be very difficult to pull off in practice.  Given how much some of the characters have already changed in the present day, is it actually possible to send them back without hitting the reset button in a deeply unsatisfying way?  Maybe he’s got an answer to that.  We’ll see.  You could have used it as the pretext for a line-wide reboot, but that ship has sailed post Secret Wars.

Or, of course, you could just string it out indefinitely as a goal which drives the characters towards other adventures. At this point, that’s probably the simplest way.

Bring on the comments

  1. Suzene says:

    I imagine it’s a subplot they’ll pull the trigger on once the book isn’t selling as well. Really, I think they could get a decent bit of mileage out of sending the X-Men back to their time, then playing against trope by spinning out an AU in which the 05 are absolutely using their knowledge of the future to try and alter things, with the expected mixed bag of results.

  2. Si says:

    The Doctor Strange story felt to me like an old-fashioned filler issue. Maybe they couldn’t delay because of the Apocalypse event, or realised too late that they were one issue short for the trade. Whatever, it had all the elements of a fill-in. The individual character split off from the team, a guest star, nothing that moves the plot forward, and a jarring shift from the ongoing storyline. And a different artist I think?

  3. bnyblm says:

    Wait, they brought in a guest character and stayed true to the current continuity going on in that character’s own book?? What is this, 1992? Love it!

  4. Sean Whitmore says:

    I don’t know if this is just the mini-X-Men being influenced by their older selves, but it reads weird for Beast to be so dismissive of Blob and Toad. He comes from a time when they were actually a legitimate threat.

    Well, Blob, at least.

  5. Nu-D says:

    playing against trope by spinning out an AU in which the 05 are absolutely using their knowledge of the future to try and alter things

    Wasn’t that more-or-less the premise of eXiles. only with a mish-mash team instead of the O5?

  6. Suzene says:


    Kind of. The Exiles had a set mission in each reality they were sent to, usually along the lines of “here’s your brief, now stop this event from happening”. But they were always visitors looking at echoes of their world at best. The 05 would be taking on the responsibility of shaping their world into one big What-If.

  7. Rich Larson says:

    I naively thought that Secret Wars would be the big fix for Broken Time and the O5. I guess it’s pretty obvious by now there never was a plan.

    But even if the writers aren’t thinking about it, it does have me wondering why the O5 are now stuck, since time travel seems to be available in other ways. My thought is this. We are back to when time travel in Marvel is effectively dimensional travel and the time lines split when a big enough event happens. One of those events is when the O5 get shunted forward in time. This created two timelines. One where the O5 do go back and one where they don’t. Our O5 are the ones who don’t. And the reason they can’t is because since they didn’t return, all those times the X-Men saved the planet or universe never happened. Their dimension is now destroyed and the reason they can’t go back is because there is no where to go back to.

    Once upon a time, this would have put me in the running for a No Prize! But once upon a time, someone would have actually planned a coherent ending to the O5 story.

    Enough cranky, geeky philosophizing now. Back to work!

  8. Chris V says:

    I had heard that Marvel planned for Secret Wars to be like DC’s original Crisis. That the Marvel multiverse would be streamlined by the events. There would only be one Marvel universe, and there would now be a set past and future for that universe. No more alternate timelines. Time travel wouldn’t be treated like it had in the past within the stories.

    However, Marvel’s editors don’t seem to care anymore, and it was shortly after the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel launch that we started to see all the same things that happened before start to happen again.
    In fact, “time in broken”, which seemed to be one of the reasons for the events of Secret Wars happening, had not even been fixed.

    The original five being stuck in the present could have been explained away by the events of Secret Wars, but that was not the case.
    They could have simply explained that the Marvel Universe was recreated almost exactly as it was at the time of Secret Wars.
    So, the original five were from an alternate time-line that was wiped out by Secret Wars, but because they were in the current Marvel Universe at the time of Secret Wars, they’re now stuck in this present.

  9. LiamKav says:

    “… issue #8 just picks up with him in hospital. I mean, yes, he’s unconscious and he’s badly injured and everything, but seriously.”

    So, basically…

    “Mr. Burns was admitted to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then transferred to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to ‘alive.’”

  10. Arndt says:

    This is just Samurai X-Jack?


    That could have been a good comic if I hadn’t lost interest

  11. Arndt says:

    Toad has super strength and agility.

    His biggest weakness is that inferiority complex.

    But that dude is straight-up nasty when a writer recognizes his due.

    Mind you the last story where he was formidable was a Liefeld Era X-Force comic written by Fabian

  12. Nu-D says:

    One of those events is when the O5 get shunted forward in time. This created two timelines. One where the O5 do go back and one where they don’t. Our O5 are the ones who don’t.


    While it did create two timelines, the turning point is when they travelled forward. So far we have not seen any timeline where they were returned. Presumably there is a timeline out there where they were never brought forward–one that looks exactly like the Marvel Universe up until BMB got his hands on the X-Men. Unfortunately, we are currently in the timeline where they were brought forward.

    The problem, then, is how did we get here. After all, in our timeline, the X-Men were lifted out of history and brought to “now.” Who did all the things we saw them do?

    There may well be a timeline where the X-Men were returned to their time, but it’s also possible that there is no such timeline. That story has not been told yet. But of course, if they don’t go back in our timeline, then how did we get here?

  13. ChrisV says:

    Well, if they never go back, it means that this timeline could never have happened.
    Hence, everything that existed after the originals were brought forward could not have happened.
    So, that means that Beast could not have brought the originals to our present.
    So, the time line is safe, as everything went exactly as it did in our reality, as we read the comics taking place in 616.
    Of course, this probably leads to a paradox, where Beast had to eventually bring the originals forward, as we read about those stories on Earth 616.
    Which leads to a time-loop between the point the originals left and a present where they never went back to lead up to the point where Beast could bring them forward.

  14. Rich Larson says:

    Nu-D and ChrisV,

    My thinking is that because they couldn’t now go back and still be the same X-Men we know, that they are not from our timeline. I know that we were told they were from our timeline and that Cyclops blipped out at one point. But at this point them going back to be our X-Men is even more problematic. The alternate timeline explanation works better.

  15. Nu-D says:

    My point is we simply don’t know how the writers intend to resolve the paradox. Rich’s solution to retcon them into being from a different timeline is one workable solution; another would be to return them with e mind-wipe.

    I like Rich’s idea, and I think it would be a fun alt-U story to have them shunt over to their original timeline, but at the contemporary moment, and see where their world went without them.

    But right now there are two sets of timelines: one where the O5 were brought to the future, and one where they were not. We do not yet have any information abut timelines where they were returned.

  16. Rich Larson says:


    Fair point that we don’t know how they intend to resolve the paradox. My initilal frustration is that i no longer believe they have a plan. I’d love to be wrong. Do you (or anyone else) think there is a plan?

  17. Thom H. says:

    Also, a mindwipe would work well except for Angel’s new “cosmic energy” wings. Unlike Jean’s slightly-different-than-our-Jean’s powers, his cosmic wings wouldn’t disappear without his knowledge of them, would they? I’m sincerely asking since I haven’t been keeping up. Also, it’s weird that he has cosmic energy wings. And swords, apparently?!

  18. Nu-D says:

    I’m only following their story via this and other blogs, so I don’t know what the plan is. My second-hand impression is that the plan is to let this be the status quo for the time being and let some other writer address the ongoing paradox if/when s/he is inspired to tell that story.

  19. ChrisV says:

    I don’t understand why original Hank can’t figure this fact out.
    He wants the originals to return to their past, yet if they return with all they know about their future, then how can the timeline not be altered?
    Surely, original Hank doesn’t expect that they’ll go back to the point where they left and that everything will happen exactly the same to lead to the present where Beast brought the originals forward in time.

    Although, I guess their original purpose was that they wanted to change the past so that everything didn’t go so wrong for mutants.

    However, if they change the timeline that significantly, it would lead to Beast not bringing the originals forward in time.
    That would mean that, at best, the original five can create an alternate future for themselves, but cannot change the timeline which saw Beast bring them forward.

  20. Nu-D. says:

    The only way out of this quagmire is to reinstate the Shooter-era multiverse. the O5 can stay or go, and there are always other timelines where each and every other possibility occurred. Any other in-story solution results in an intractable paradox.

    Of course, the writers can just keep on keeping on, ignoring the paradox as long as they like until readers just sigh and accept the new status quo. That is not a solution, just ignoring the problem until we forget about it. My hunch is that’s the current strategy.

  21. Rich Larson says:

    That actually seems like the best assessment. Frustrating to this long time fan though. And it may ultimately be a sales mistake. The franchise is only a mid-list seller nowadays and making the fans feel like they are more than the storytellers can’t be a good strategy.

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