The original X-Men are brought out of the past to put their contemporary selves back on the straight and narrow...

(Panini Books)

IMAGINE waking up in your future to find every decision you made was the wrong one, your one true love is dead, your friends hate you and the world you thought you were helping to create has become a twisted nightmare.

That is the horrific situation experienced by teenager Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, leader of the recently-formed mutant superhero team the X-Men, who has been plucked from the past along with his team-mates and thrust into the present day.

There he finds his contemporary self has killed his mentor, allied himself with his greatest enemy, and is regarded as a terrorist by human and mutant alike. To make matters worse, the love of his life, Jean Grey, has died not once but twice, and the remainder of his team have been irrevocably changed over the years.

The premise of All-New X-Men is so simple, yet so effective, that it’s amazing nobody had thought of it before. How do you give a new perspective to the troubled Children of the Atom? Simple, view their exploits through the rose-tinted lenses of youth, in this case their time-tossed younger selves, brought to the present by a dying Hank McCoy (Beast) to shock his Scott Summers into realising the folly of his ways.

Usually such meddling with the time lines would be impossible in the Marvel Universe, but it seems the rules have changed and all of a sudden the historical original X-Men are not only interacting with their older selves, but being dramatically altered as a result.

Can the youngsters who make up the original team – Scott, Jean (Marvel Girl), McCoy, Warren (Angel) Worthington III and Bobby Drake, aka Iceman – really return to their own time knowing what they have seen, and somehow not be tempted to change the course of history as a result? And what of the modern mutants? Will the innocence of youth force them to put their own sins into new focus?

Long-term Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis recently concluded his run on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and has started his X-Men tenure by giving the mutants a major kick up the proverbial. This storyline plays to his strengths with characterisation, but also brings a long-overdue sense of freshness and excitement to the various teams, and although the pacing is somewhat slow, there’s no need to rush when you’ve got such an interesting idea to play with.

These might be your father’s X-Men, but they’re just one cog in a fascinating new dynamic for the mutant misfits which is set to play out over several years to come.

NB. Panini seems to be jumping on board the new wave of Marvel Now! titles with great gusto, offering collected editions of major series including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Avengers, X-Men and Spidey just weeks after the publication of individual issues. Fingers crossed they continue with second volumes of all these books, and build a proper collection of the latest instalment in the Marvel Age of Comics.