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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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