Comics : All-New X-Men Special #1

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Arms of the Octopus"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Oct 2013.

Background...

If you have been keeping up with the X-Men lately, you would know that the X-Men from the past have bee transported to current times. Those X-Men are Iceman, Beast, Cyclops, and Jean Grey.

If you have been keeping up with the Hulk lately, you would know that he is now an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bruce Banner builds for S.H.I.E.L.D. while the Hulk carries out missions.

If you have been keeping up with Spider-Man lately, (I assume you have since you're on Spiderfan.Org, after all) you should know that Doctor Octopus has taken over Peter Parker's body and is now the Superior Spider-Man! He also has his own island and army of henchmen.

(Jeez! Can you say too many status quo changes before the status quo changes yet again?)

In Detail...

"Elegy in the Classroom"
All-New X-Men Special #1
Dec 2013 : SM Guest
Summary: Superior Spider-Man teams up with X-Men from past!
Arc: Part 1 of "The Arms of the Octopus"
Editor:  Nick Lowe
Writer:  Mike Costa
Pencils:  Kris Anka
Inker:  Kris Anka
Cover Art:  Alexander Lozano
Colorist:  Jordie Bellaire
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Review

On the subway, the X-Men of the past are all eagerly waiting on the subway to see the current New York City. Bobby expects it to be identical to the NYC of their time, but he is surprised when he sees that countless billboards around them. “I have a headache,” he falters. As they walk in the streets, the heroes are all surprised to hear all the civilians blathering on their phones. “Do they just not care that everyone can hear them?” Scott asks.

They all decide to go somewhere less crowded and they split into two groups. Bobby and Henry head as a group in Central Park. Bobby is immediately attracted by a yoga class. “Spandex! I knew it would catch on!” he yells. Henry, meanwhile, heads off to flirt with a girl reading poetry. He starts stumbling over his words and the girl reveals she is a PH.D student at Empire State University.

When Henry spies a purse robber running away, he takes off his shoes and jumps off. He merely takes back the purse and hangs the man from a tree limb. When Bobby runs by, he tells him that he pulled a muscle while doing yoga. The girl Henry was flirting with finds out he is a mutant and is riveted.

Henry becomes more confident with her and they find that they both know Dr. Jude. The girl asks how long ago he studied under Dr. Jude and he tells her, “Oh, it was longer than you might think.” She invites him to meet him, but Bobby warns his teammate that they shouldn’t separate further. Henry retorts that he will soon become a “giant, blue homunculus” and girls won’t be inviting him anywhere anymore. Bobby is still reluctant and Henry offers to give him all the credit for stopping the purse snatcher. Bobby agrees.

When the girl enters Dr. Jude’s lab, Henry finds has it has changed quite a bit. He reintroduces himself to Dr. Jude, who recognizes him from a while back and finds he is very young. “My, ah, mom always said I have a baby face,” Henry hesitates. They get in a conversation about science until the floor starts to violently shake.

Dr. Octopus bursts through the wall yelling, “Jude! I want David Jude!” Henry jumps up to stop him.

Meanwhile across town, Scott and Jean stand in front of the movie theater, puzzling over 3-D. But they stop when Henry crashes into a car next to them. (How convenient!) Doc Ock scuttles toward him, exploding every car in his way. Bobby, in Central Park, sees the explosion and slides toward it in his ice form. When he arrives, his fellow X-Men are all in costume, trying to stop Doc Ock. None of them are able to lay a hand on him, though, because his robotic arms are so hard to elude. Luckily, a web manages to hit Ock’s glasses.

The Superior Spider-Man slings by on a web, ranting “What is this? Some kind of sick joke?”

He manages to land a punch on Ock but finds out quickly that he is “blazing with gamma radiation.” While the X-Men battle Ock, Spidey asks Beast, “Who are all of you? Some kind of mad cloning experiment of Xavier’s he intended to punish the world with after his death?” Henry is completely caught off guard by his question.

Then, Spidey set a plan in motion. First, he orders Iceman to lower the temperature around Ock and in his lungs. Second, he commands Jean to use her telekinesis to keep Ock’s arms in check. Last, he directs Cyclops to herd him toward the park with his lasers. Ock, though, is too focused on getting to Dr. Jude.

Because the X-Men are taking too long, Spidey directs Iceman to “ice up” his hands. He hits Ock’s face, calling it his “most ironic punch yet!” Once our favorite tubby villain is unconscious, our heroes take him to Dr. Jude’s lab. They remove Ock’s arms and Spidey discoveries that they are almost perfect replicas of his arms. He declares that this isn’t the original Ock because “he would have destroyed the five of you.”

Henry’s admirer brings up the option that he may be a time traveler, which Spidey quickly rejects. But, to Spidey’s anguish, the X-Men reveal to him that they are from the past. Dr. Jude suggests that the space-time continuum may have been weakened by their arrival. (In fact, the space-time continuum is broken because of the events of Age of Ultron #10.)

Spidey sticks to his guns when he declares that that isn’t the real Doctor Octopus. Henry suggests that they examine the amount of radiation cascading off of Ock. Dr. Jude brings up that he shouldn’t even be living because he is so radioactive. Spider-Man decides that there is only one man whose knowledge exceeds his in radiation.

In a S.H.I.E.L.D. base, two agents are alerted when Spider-Man calls them. He tells them that he must come in contact with a certain Avenger. The agents inform his that the Avenger he’s looking for is wrapping up a mission. “Then, he’ll be ready to consult,” the agent says.

The man Spidey is looking for is Bruce Banner, the Indestructible Hulk!

In General...

I know what every Spider-Fan (including myself) who heard about this storyline first thought. Everyone was unhappy about how there is yet another crossover annual event involving Spider-Man and how thy have probably never even heard of Mike Costa or any of the various artists involved in the story. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure I was going to pick up this story. I mean, why should I have to pay $15 for another throw away Spider-Man crossover with creators I don’t even know? Well, I’m now glad I bought it.

This issue was a great story with loads of heart and an interesting mystery. Mike Costa, the writer, weaves a great first part to what looks like a promising storyline. There is lots of great sentiment in this story and Costa obviously did his homework on the characters he is now writing. The dialogue and interactions between the characters is pleasurable and Henry’s narration is astounding. I really enjoyed Spidey’s line when he punched Ock.

Costa has me captivated with this mystery. When I first heard of the idea that Doctor Octopus is back from the dead, I wasn’t thrilled. But after actually reading the story, I’m enthralled in the story. Who is this new Doctor Octopus? What does he want with Dr. Jude? Why is he so radioactive? My one concern is that Ock may simply be a result of the space-time continuum breaking, which would be terribly monotonous.

Also, I am usually pretty bitter towards the X-Men. As a very cynical person, I look at them for what they have become: a bunch of overdramatic, multicolored characters, many of which have overly stereotypical personalities that have become an inflated industry in itself. Plus, there are too many skimpily dressed women on the teams. (Or course, as an Avenger fan, I’m still upset over Avengers vs. X-Men.) But Costa reintroduces the X-Men to me with a remarkable tone of heart and fun. It was so entertaining that it almost has me interested with reading All-New X-Men. Hey, isn’t that the purpose of these crossovers?

I think that another major reason why I’m excited with this story is that the main characters are all popular on their own. I find that whenever Spider-Man is involved in a crossover, he is usually teamed up with C-lister heroes who need a boost to their book. Luckily, the X-Men and Indestructible Hulk are all popular, A-list characters so I don’t have to worry about any boring Punisher wannabe or anything striving for attention on the pages, practically shouting, “Read my book!”

Finally, I have never heard of Chris Anka or seen any of his art. Who is this artist, I asked myself. At first, I simply brushed him off as one of those fill-in Marvel artists that are typically involved in throw away crossovers. To my surprise, he is a Coipel-esque artist with a great kinetic style. He manages detail in characters well and portrays heart masterfully. Sadly, the fact that his panels lack background really hurts his art. About only half of all the panels in the book have a background and that’s really just lazy of the artist.

Overall Rating...

Although we all hate the idea of it, this is a reasonable story with loads of heart and great dialogue.