When this series launched one of the big changes that writer Cullen Bunn brought to the table was the younger (alternate universe) version of the original X-Men under the tutelage of Magneto, not Charles Xavier. It was a chance for fans to see what an alternate version of the team would be like in the hands of the “Master of Magnetism”. Jean Grey has reflected the concerns of the readers by questioning the sincerity of Erik’s deeds. Has Mags really turned over a new leaf, or is this another villainous plot to destroy and twist his hated enemies?
If the idea of bad guy turned good guy is your thing then this issue is custom-made for you, as the X-Men are met with not one, but two old threats that have seemingly found a new, more positive role in the X-Universe. As the X-Men run headlong into a group of mutant SAVING Sentinels?!? Who operate under the influence of a new pro-mutant Nimrod/Master Mold version of Bastion. (For fans who might not remember, Bastion was the big bad trying to Kill Hope and Cable a few years ago in the whole Messiah storyline)
Bastion has returned to save mutant kind, as he views them as an endangered species since the Inhuman’s Terrigen mists killed off a large portion of the mutant population. His ultimate goal though? Get the mutant numbers up so he can then destroy them on his own!?!
This is where the logic of Bastion totally flies right out the window. Why go through the trouble of protecting mutants if he is just going to turn around and kill them? It doesn’t make any sense! The whole idea feels contrived right out or the gate. I think that Bunn got to this point in the script and couldn’t figure out a solid motivation for the villain… I think Bunn straight up just slapped this together in the hopes of working out the kinks later.
Even the X-Men themselves are left scratching their heads at Bastion’s explanation. It’s like saving someone’s life just so you can kill them yourself… sure it seems vindictive, but highly illogical and impractical; and we are talking about a robot here. Would logic and calculation be at the forefront of Bastion’s character? I want a heartless villain that feels more like the Borg from Star Trek, than a confused cyborg.
While the plans of Bastion might leave you confused, Bunn continues to build up a solid dynamic between Jean and the rest of the team. The trouble is that Bunn has spent way too much time focusing on Jean; leaving the rest of the team in the background.
Once again I’m left with the feeling that Bunn is telegraphing his plot before it happens. There are too many nice villains running around already and it’s only issue three! It’s not going to be long before the team is betrayed. I hope that Bunn can surprise me when it comes time for the twist, but considering that this title is becoming paint by the numbers already I’m not going to hold my breath.
The highlight of the issue was the artwork. Molina is still swaying back and forth between trying to draw like Olivier Coipel and hints of manga/anime influence in the faces of his characters. It’s not as jarring as it has been, but it is still apparent that this artist is still trying to find his own unique style.
Ray-Anthony Height filled in a few pages at the end of this issue and the change in the artwork is evident. The change in faces and hairstyles make the book read like a whole different comic. (Not in a bad way either) I prefer Height’s style and design. That is a reflection on my own personal taste and not a knock on either artist.
All in all there are signs that this title is starting to show cracks in the proverbial armor already. The plot and writing are starting to get shaky, the fact that a back-up artist is already helping out in issue three is not a good sign. I’m guessing that by issue six (the end of the first graphic novel length storyline) there will be an entirely new creative team at the helm of this title.
While I’m hoping that I’m wrong and this book will turn a corner, there are signs that there is trouble ahead.
Final Score: 3 ½ Stars out of 5.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: Jorge Molina
Cover Artist: Arthur Adams