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Perfect Page: All-New X-Men

I came across a terrific bit of comics storytelling while pursuing my digitally-driven read of All-New X-Men.

All-New X-Men #6

The above page comes from All-New X-Men #6 (2013) by author Brian Michael Bendis, artist David Marquez, and (notably) letterer Cory Petit. (While I’m at it, I should credit color artist Marte Gracia, too!)

What I love about this page is how it uses the unique toolbox of comics to tell its story. The jumble of thought balloons — and the dialogue balloons overprinting the same — beautifully show us the confusion of a telepath suddenly bombarded by the thoughts of everyone around her, even as her teacher tries to guide her through the maelstrom.

I’ve accused Brian Michael Bendis of writing pages that look like an explosion in the Word Balloon Factory, but here’s an example of using that technique to spectacular effect.

As a reader, we can linger on each panel, and read all those individual thoughts, or we can stick with the narrative, and see how our heroes resolve this crisis. Either way, you can’t help but hear what is happening on this page, which is one of the miracles of the silent medium of comics. (And when that last panel goes blank, the silence is deafening).

Now as to why an adult Kitty Pryde is counseling a teen-aged Jean Grey about using her telepathic powers … well, explaining that one is above my pay grade. Suffice to say that All-New X-Men dives directly into time travel and deep continuity to tell a mixed-up story of X-Men characters old and new, which is (usually) delightful for old hands of the series, and almost-certain to form an impenetrable barrier against readers new to the title.

But the plotting and publication strategy of All-New X-Men is neither here nor there (and there’s a whole new wave of X-Men books hitting the beach soon in any case). That page, though. Nice work!

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About Paul O'Connor

Revelations and retro-reviews from a world where it is always 1978, published once a month or so at www.longboxgraveyard.com!

Posted on September 9, 2015, in Perfect Page and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I don’t know Paul; its always nice to see this kind of narrative trick, but…. its a little old hat isn’t it? Fine as far as it goes, but at this point, it doesn’t seem too remarkable.
    Having said that, I’m now trying to think of an example of where I’ve seen it before off the top of my head. Umm… didn’t Frank Miller do something quite similar to this in an early ’80s Daredevil (the one with the heightened senses or radar or whatever going haywire)?

    All the same, you’re usually a reliable guide, so I’ll give it a go – thanks for the pointer.

    Like

    • Well, follow any idea back far enough and you find an ancient Greek (or maybe Will Eisner). I’m not making any claims to originality here — just calling out a page for engaging the senses, and leveraging the particular strengths of the comics medium to make us “hear” thoughts in a more effective fashion than other media might achieve.

      I also thought it only fair to praise Mr. Bendis when his technique achieves superior results, given that I’ve taken him to task here when those same techniques proved of dubious value.

      As far as being a guide is concerned … first, thanks! Second, the Bendis X-Men run is very much like the Bendis run of anything else, so if you like talky books with good characterization and slowly-evolving plots (which might sometimes go nowhere), then dig in! They are pretty much the opposite of the Bronze Age books I normally tackle here at the blog, but I still like them, most of the time.

      Like

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