Another excellent issue of ANXM from Bendis, this title is so consistently good, and whilst I did think that this story was wrapped up a bit too quickly, I can sense that the religious hatred angle is going to run on a bit longer, and that Stryker’s incarceration isn’t going to last too long.
In a very cool touch, Bendis kicks off this issue with a flashback to when Reverend Stryker was still alive, and he ropes in the original artist of the God Loves, Man Kills OGN, Brent Anderson to draw it. Not only does this provide a cool sense of continuity from that story, but it Anderson’s style is very retro, and it works very well for a flashback scene. In this scene, Stryker cuts a deal with AIM to experiment on his son and give him the power he needs to fight the Mutant menace.
Back in the present, Stryker Jnr has the X-Men captured, but he can’t kill them right away. As one of his men says, they are from the past, if they kill them, it might cause a paradox and fuck things up even worse. So, rather than risk destroying the fabric of the time-stream (little does Stryker know that an X-Man already did that), he calls in someone smarter than him… AIM. But before that, it’s time for a bit of torture and interrogation on X-23. They show her the footage of Avengers Arena that Arcade put up online, and tell her that the whole world knows her for the monster she truly is, and what will her fellow X-Men think when they see this? I think it’s great that Arena hasn’t just been ignored by Bendis, and that it’s going to be a big part of X-23’s character for the foreseeable future. It just goes to show that, contrary to what the whiners say, that series wasn’t done just for shock value.
Dr Rapaccini from AIM then shows up, and tells Stryker that, yep, you shouldn’t kill these X-Men, in fact, you should let them go, because even doing that might destroy reality. She does however ask for some DNA samples so she can experiment with combining Mutant and Inhuman DNA, which is intriguing. Bendis has been going slow with the AIM involvement, but with this issue and the recent Uncanny, they are becoming more and more prominent, which is cool. Rapaccini also tells Stryker that he can kill Kitty Pryde, she’s in the right time period, so it’s cool. Just as he is about to, Jean uses wakes up and uses her telekinesis to free everyone and the X-Men proceed to kick AIM and the Purifiers’ asses and arrest them.
It sounds basic, but there’s cool stuff in there, like X-23 finally opening up and hugging Cyclops due to the shame of what she’s done, and Jean making Stryker see a vision of his dad, but as I said, it does feel rather abrupt. I just hope these plot threads aren’t dropped when the X-Men go into space for the crossover with the Guardians Of The Galaxy. I’m looking forward to that crossover for sure, but there’s so many interesting Earth-bound plot threads for the X-Men right now. We shall see next week!
Brandon Peterson’s art was solid once again, but it did look a bit rushed towards the end, however, I love it just for the cool contrast between his style and Anderson’s. I’d love to see Anderson come back and do a whole issue set in the past.