So while I was aware that the Secret Empire crossover would remain in X-Men: Blue considering the cliffhanger the previous issue left us on, I wasn’t sure it would be as decent as the last. So it came as a surprise to me that this issue actually ended up being much better than its predecessor. For one, the content of this book was really overflowing with a multifaceted plotline that still manages to keep away from its crossover, a wonderful balance of action, intrigue, and mystery, and just fantastic overall art. What I loved most about it is that, while this is going on in the Hydra controlled United States, the mutant population seems to be operating in its own little corner of the world, mostly unaffected by the going ons in the current state of the Marvel Universe. By the time it was over I was actual filled with a deep excitement over where this story is going to end up.
The last time we saw the X-Men we were shown the Mutant-Human utopia of New Tian ruled over by Xorn, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw and his Hellfire Club, and the older Hank McCoy. Their dream was to make an experience that offered a peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants that actually just ended up being full of brainwashing facilities to make their population more complacent. Jean Grey and her team, supported by Briar Raleigh, formed up a rebellion with the intention of liberating these centers which was beginning to prove redundant as those they rescued would end up back in one anyway. The Team is discovered in their hideout and they are quite outmatched by several mutants who have secondary mutations and helmed by Archangel and Havok who are beyond any of the X-Men capabilities. The issue closes with the team being defeated and Scott being drawn into a temporal dimension with Emma Frost.
The issue opens back in the forest where Jean and Jimmy pretended to meet their demise while the rest of their team was taken back to Utopia, the capital of New Tian. Between Jimmy’s healing factor and the power of Jeans TK shield they survived what would have been a fatal attack from Havok. They have to save their friends and they have the element of surprise. Plus, as an added stroke of luck, the Blackbird seems to have been upgraded by Magneto to make itself away, all of this ignites their plan to assault the capital.
Back in the capital, the remaining X-Men are held in their own cells with mutation dampers to keep them in check while Emma Frost slowly starts to eat away at Scott’s mind. It seems that she’s not only trying to get him see things her way, thus getting the rest of the team on her side, but she’s also trying to seduce him. I guess it is also becoming a running gag that Scott has a magnetic effect for telepaths, incredibly powerful ones at that. Scoot doesn’t want to meet the fate that his elder self did, but even with all his strength he may lose to the power of the White Queen.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team is making the most of their current position. Hank’s magic is also dampened like his power, Bobby is full of self doubt and Warren is trying desperately to keep them on their toes. This is really a great show of personal strength considering his elder self made an appearance in the last issue. Hank, on the other hand is showing off a much different personality with his dark thoughts of vengeance and retribution. He may be younger than his wiser self but this is still weird for him. Havoks conversation with Raleigh is particularly significant as he reveals what the White Queen is really after. She doesn’t believe Magneto is dead and she wants him, though her colleagues don’t agree she wants him bad, but for what purpose?
An Unexpected Reunion
Speaking of Magneto, we finally see what he’s been up to since he inducted Jimmy Hudson as an X-Man. He does confirm that he is definitely in hiding given the current state of the world, but it seems he’s still pulling at a few strings; the puppets, of course, being the X-Men. He doesn’t sound malicious in his intent and makes it clear that he trusts their abilities enough. He made a promise to someone that he would not interfere with Hydra’s dealings and that prevents him from personally helping out the team, but there are ways around that.
The grand battle begins as Jean and Jimmy begin their assault, being held back by Hellfire Club troops. Not soon after the mutants who gave them all a beating begin to arrive, trying to persuade the two before something bad happens. Numbers are obviously not on Jeans side, so she pulls out an old illusion to buy them a way into the fortress, she summons an illusion of all the X-men past to scare their pursuers. To add to the effect it seems the Blackbird has its own offensive. The famous danger room itself comes in a robot form and certainly the data from every mutant who trained in there would be data within her memory, enough to make her a force to be reckoned with. Jean and Jimmy are however, halted by Havok as they progress into the fortress. This doesn’t bode well for the pair as not even the whole team could take him out. The issue closes with a surprise appearance by Polaris, daughter of Magneto and former lover of Havok, in an explosive surprise.
Joey Vazquez and Terry Pallot join the creative team on the illustrations for this book, proving that the more the merrier. The work was great on this one with an intense focus on detail in both physical shading and penciling. The amount of mutant costumes we got in this issue just overflowed with reasons to get creative and they really took advantage of that. My favorite piece was without a doubt the flashy appearance of Polaris with its significant duality on the colors between her and Havok.
This one was really something exciting. From the fights to the mystery and that great ending, this makes me somewhat okay with the fact that it’s a tie in without having to worry about knowing anything about Secret Empire. I wouldn’t mind this storyline being around for a while just to see what the fate of the X-Men and their oppressors will be. Lots of questions were asked in this issue and I’m kind of hoping, as a reader of X-Men: Gold that eventually they’ll meet up with their alter team.
Final Score: 9/10
X-Men: Blue #8 Credits
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Cory Smith & Joey Vazquez
Inker: Terry Pallot
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letters: Joe Caramagna
All Images Courtesy of Marvel