all-new-x-men-23We’re continuing on from the second part of Jean’s trail that took place in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ #11 and we kick off with what has ended up as my favorite issue of the crossover so far!

The introduction brings us pure humor. With everything our mutants have seen so far, having been flung into the future, nothing has apparently prepared them for seeing a talking Raccoon (sorry he’s not actually a Raccoon, even though it’s part of his name) or a giant walking and talking tree! There are some brilliant banter between Rocket and Iceman here though we, of course, have Scott quickly putting the focus on “Where’s Jean?” Star-Lord kicks in and lays out that the plan to rescue her and that’s what his team is here to help with.

My worry from the first two issues is quickly proven to be unfounded as we get the story moving forward telling us what happens to both Jean in Shi’ar custody as well as the X-Men and the Guardians. I was really concerned we would only focus on one team and in the next issue do the other at the same time. Clearly not the case as we immediately check in on Jean and see that she’s in the hands of a psychic that forces her to confront what she’s done as the Phoenix. Only the psychic also realizes that Jean hasn’t experienced this first hand. She truly isn’t the one responsible for the actions of the Dark Phoenix (though as Rocket would add to the end of that statement, “yet”.) I don’t know if this tidbit is going to help her chances of getting out of her trial or if it’ll just be ignored in open court.

Speaking of the trial, I’m still not sure as to why Gladiator is pushing to capture Jean and try her for these crimes. They knew she was alive after the entire Phoenix event and I’m thinking there has to be something more at stake here. Bendis is not so lazy of a writer to ignore such giant plot portions for people to nitpick over, so I suspect by the end of the trial something else is going to come into play. Bendis has been doing great on the X-Titles (if we ignore how ‘Battle of the Atom’ ended up) and I have a feeling he’s got a few more fun surprises in store for us.

When the Guardians finally catch up to the ship they thought Jean was on, they are prepared to attack but she is already gone. Immonen’s art has been great all issue but really shines as the space battle unfolds on page.

Now we come to the close of the book which happens to be my favorite aspect of it. Here we are with the Guardians in danger and in need of help when out of the blue another ship comes to their rescue. Long term fans of the X-Men are going to instantly recognize who just showed up and this is a surprise that really topped the issue off for me. Their saviors are the Starjammers, once again being lead by Corsair who should by all accounts be dead. For those of you unfamiliar with Corsair, he is an ex-pilot turned space pirate that also happens to be both Cyclops’ and Havock’s father. I’m not sure how they are going to explain away his return to the land of the living but I’m looking forward to it and hope it’s something that really works. It’d be nice if it somehow ties in with what the Shi’ar are up to as well.

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ALL-NEW X-MEN #23
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Stuart Immonen