Brian Michael Bendis continues to do great work in this title of developing the various new Mutants he’s introduced. In this issue, the established names like Cyclops and Magik only appear at the very beginning and the very end, as the new recruits are sent on a training mission by themselves and all sorts of sparks (and golden balls) fly.
The location of this mission is initially unknown, with the likes of the Savage Land or just the Danger Room being suggested, but thanks to David, AKA Hijack, who has brought along his phone despite being told to destroy it by Cyclops, they discover they are in Montana. It’s not said outright in the issue, but I’m guessing they are in Tabula Rasa, which was created in Rick Remender’s X-Force run and was visited by Cyclops during Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men tenure. The opening few pages are light and full of classic Bendis dialogue and humour, particularly when everyone makes fun of Tempus/Eva’s obvious crush on Cyclops. However, once a giant hairy rhino ape monster appears and attacks, things get more serious, and the team is separated.
Goldballs and Tempus are attacked by a giant ostrich lizard, and awesomely, Goldballs is able to fight it off. Goldballs is turning into a bit of a bad-ass, could it be that Future-Deadpool from Battle For The Atom was telling the truth about his legendary status? I would love that. In the process of defeating this monster, Goldballs loses track of Eva, and when he hears a girly scream, he runs off in it’s direction. This scream turns out to have come from Christopher Muse who is totally freaking out, until one of the Stepfords uses their powers to calm him down. We saw this tactic used to great effect in Limbo, and it works here, but how long can these X-Men go by cheating into learning lessons? Not very far I think.
Elsewhere, Benjamin, Hijack and another Cuckoo are wandering around the jungle, where they run into 3 weird red humanoid creatures. Their presence causes the Cuckoo (I think it’s Celeste) to start freaking out and fall to the floor, and, from the reaction of the other Cuckoos, she might even be temporarily dead. Benjamin goes up to the creatures and uses his powers to shape-shift into them, and gain their trust, which allows Celeste to wake up. However, once these creatures see how angry she is at them, they bare their teeth and go into attack mode. They are stopped by Tempus, who appears out of nowhere with her clothes all torn. It looks like some seriously bad shit happened to her when she was on her own, and she orders the Cuckoos, who have read her mind, not to tell anyone what they saw, and even refuses to let Christopher heal her. I can’t wait to see Bendis fill in these gaps, and I just love the fact that these new characters are getting some real development.
So, everyone is safe and back together, but they are still not out of the woods, as SHIELD, along with Nick Fury Jr, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman show up to bring them in, as they’ve tracked Hijack’s phone, just like Cyclops said they would. Hijack manages to redeem himself somewhat by using his powers to take control of SHIELD’s weapons and by them time to escape, but that’s still not good enough for Cyclops. The issue ends with Cyke furious at Hijack for disobeying his orders and refusing to take responsibility, so he kicks him off the team, as Magik drops him back at home. I really liked this scene, it showed how serious Cyclops is taking his mission, and how it’s not all lovey dovey like the Jean Grey School. In Uncanny, if you fuck up, you’re done. Of course, this won’t be the last we see of Hijack I’m sure, I imagine SHIELD will be outside his door in 5 minutes, so this harshness could come back on Cyclops.
Chris Bachalo’s art was once again excellent, he’s perfect for drawing weird, mutated plants and monsters like we got in Tabula Rasa, and he fits the comedic side of this book as well. Plus, I don’t think anyone else can draw Goldballs, he is the definitive, iconic, Goldballs artist.
All of X-Men books have been great lately, and this is no exception, I especially can’t wait for next issue, which promises to bring the focus back around to Cyclops. I love these new characters, but there’s nobody quite like Scott Summers in comics right now, he’s just fascinating.