The original X-Men discover more about their future fates in the present day...

(Panini Books)

THERE has been a certain degree of criticism levelled at Brian Michael Bendis’ current run on the X-Men titles, with some readers condemning the books for dialogue-heavy sequences, a general lack of plot progression, and only periodic bursts of action.

In fact, the high concept nature of his story – the original X-Men are brought from the past to save the present – actually merits taking the time to explore how protagonists from all sides react to such a game-changing development, instead of rushing in and ignoring the character moments which make this work so well.

Yes, the pace is slower than regular readers might be used to, but that actually works better in trade instead of individual issues, as the plot and character progression moves forward at a comfortable speed without ignoring the implications of events unfolding on the page.

Having decided to remain in the present day in order to prevent a predicted mutant apocalypse, the fledgling heroes of the first team of X-Men find themselves torn in all directions by various super-powered factions, including the Avengers, the terrorist group of “Uncanny” X-Men, and shape-changer Mystique’s self-interested cabal.

The young mutants must also come to terms with the knowledge of their future destinies and the way the world at large has changed over the past decade, which is not always for the better.

As the teenage Cyclops loses his grip on the leadership, Jean Grey steps into the breach, which shifts the dynamics of these children of the atom in a way that never occurred back in their past. Meanwhile, Angel finally meets his contemporary counterpart, and discovers he has obviously been damaged both physically and mentally by some horrific event in his past…

As the title of this second volume has it, the original X-Men are here to stay, and there’s no need to rush ahead to conclude their contemporary adventures so soon after they’ve begun. We’re obviously in this for the long ride, and the consequences of their sojourn to the present day are sure to be felt for some time to come, even when they finally return to their own era.

Trust in Bendis. He knows what he’s doing, and even the odd continuity glitches are more than likely to be there for a reason, rather than just a case of bad research as some fans have claimed. Thanks to his influence, the X-Men have gained a new vitality and direction which has shaken up the characters in a way we haven’t seen for decades. Long may it continue.