X-men Blue follows Marvel Girl and her team of time displaced X-Men as they try to prove themselves as heroes in a world ravaged by the war between Mutant and Man. For those who didn’t catch the look at X-Blue #6 you can find it here. We left off with our heroes discussing their future with the newly introduced Raksha, a mutant vigilante team who pull no punches and hold no quarter.
Usually I don’t tend to read the brief recap paragraph at the front of the comic, however with #7 I felt compelled to due to one simple fact; The Secret Empire. Now I haven’t read any of the Secret Empire arc, but as any Marvel fan should know, it features one of the biggest upheavals in Marvel history. Characters have been known to change their shorts and switch sides pretty often, it’s commonplace for enemies to become friends and friends to become enemies. It’s integral to creating conflict, driving character and story development, however one character has always remained firmly and adamantly on one side of the field. Captain America.
For those who don’t know what I’m alluding to, the Secret Empire arc reveals that the Star-Spangled Avenger has never really been the paragon of virtue and sentinel of Liberty we took him for, but instead he’s the deepest deep-cover Hydra operative ever. He’s been working for those he so viciously seeked to destroy this entire time.
Now you’re wondering “Spud, what’s this got to do with anything? We’re talking X-Men here!” and you’d be right True Believer, we are indeed. This particular issue of the X-Blue series focuses on the Secret Empire arc and the Hydra uprising taking America. We open with Jean Grey (who’s name I spell wrong every time) using Cerebro and giving a brief background to how the world works now. Mutant kind live in a utopia called Utopia (creative right?) in Florida. The state has been renamed New Tian and is run by Emma Frost (who we saw at the end of last issue) and her gang of miscreants, including the timeline’s original Hank McCoy (introduced as “The older one”).
Not everything is as it seems in Utopia (go figure…) and any fish who swim upriver or oppose the new Mutant/Hydra regime are sent to Alcatraz. Jean and our lovable heroes endeavour to bust out their brethren held within and it’s a roaring success but Scott, ever the voice of reason, brings the mood down a little when he says that in a few days the prisoners will be back within its walls and they’ll probably end up there themselves.
One thing that becomes apparent pretty quick is that the art style has settled into itself a little more and seems more like the first 5 issues, although Jean is still missing her freckles but I’m just a stickler for detail I guess. Everyone’s character designs seem to be that little bit more polished and consistent which is great to see. Emma Frost looks as enticing and deadly as expected and the others amongst her cohort have adopted pretty foreboding and overbearing styles as befitting their tyrannical tendencies.
There appears to have been a pretty substantial time-skip, which considering the time hopped nature of the story shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it throws you off a little. Maybe it’s because I personally haven’t read the Secret Empire yet, but it seems a little distracting and begs the questions of what else have we missed? Briar Raleigh greets the X-Men at their new home in a secret bunker that they seem to have been operating out of for a while, hence the confusion.
The team appear to have been causing various kinds of guerrilla-style mayhem for a while too and apparently on Raleigh and Magneto’s orders too. Jimmy steals a quiet word with Jean as she enters but it would be reading too far into it to say if it has anything to do with their interactions in the previous issue.
The secret base isn’t secret for long however and we’re introduced to Firestar, Mondo, Toad, Marrow and Wolfsbane who quite literally come in hot. Jean reacts aggressively, as anyone would do, but the interesting part is the art in the frame, she’s wreathed in flames. Maybe it’s because of Firestar’s attack or maybe it’s because she’s tapping into the whole Phoenix thing, or maybe she’s just really pissed. Whatever the reason it looks badass and the team waste no time in attacking their unexpected guests.
Toad’s tongue is doused in green fire, something which Scott comments on, prompting a brief talk about “secondary mutations” and how he is new and improved from their last encounter. Toad isn’t the only one sporting some new abilities as Wolfsbane manages to transform himself into multiple wolves at once and encircle Hank. Havok also appears for a less than touching reunion with his brother, Scott, boasting enough power to flatten both Jimmy and Jean.
Jimmy throws himself in front of Jean in either a desperate act to defend his teammate and friend OR a subtle nod to the potentially blossoming romance going on there, it’s not clear and doesn’t last long before aforementioned flattening by Havok.
Broken and beaten, the team are rounded up by Firestar’s team and brought back to Frost’s capital building in Utopia and imprisoned. Closing out the issue with the lovely Miss Frost talking to Scott about their past (or future?) relationship and how they were to face the world.
Issue #7 clearly gives us a lot to think about and introduces a whole bunch more questions. First and foremost though, what’s this secondary mutation thing? We’ve already seen that Jimmy has the ability to change the composition of his claws on command, but he’s from an alternate reality right? Unless Miss Sinister’s little lab experiments are not as far from home as we once thought and instead of being merely brought forward in time they’ve also been hopped into an alternate world. That wouldn’t really chime with the whole Secret Empire thing so it’s likely that Miss Sinister isn’t the only one performing her little pet project.
I guess all we can do is wait and see what happens in the near future!
See ya next time, True Believers!