All-New X-Men #12
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Cory Petit
I always find myself thinking I might be too critical of All-New X-Men, there's a lot of good things in this series. It has an interesting team, I do like Bagley way more than either Land or Ramos, and they did have a lovely character moment for Idie (one of my faves) that harkened back to her arc in Generation Hope. But that was back in issue #3 or #4. We now have about a year worth of this series and none of the issues have really blown me away. Hopeless splits up his team a lot so we have mostly seen issues dealing with one or two characters lately, and there are no remarkable relationships on this team. I don't think All-New X-Men has been bad but unless you are already invested in these characters, there's no reason to buy this book.
This month we see Wolverine (helped by Pickles) go on a string of solo missions while she tries to clear her mind, she finds most of the times someone has beaten her to the punch until she finds some goblins doing something nefarious and proceeds to beat them up. This issue has some action but at its core it is a character piece about Wolverine, it tries to exlain her attitude in the past few issue of this series but truth be told, Laura's musings about violence in this issue are not new. It's a bit of a retread for her character and it pales when compared to Marjorie Liu's X-23.
The book swerves in a completely different direction once Angel crashes into the pile of goblins that Wolverine is fighting, even the color palette of the book completely changes to mostly reds as everything is engulfed by the fire from um.. “that stupid Black Vortex” thing, as Angel calls it. Laura and Warren bicker while they fight the goblins and then Laura kind of relents and kisses Warren. The sequence does give their relationship more depth but it is a very hasty conclusion and there's no real resolution to their conflict. The fight feels kind of shallow because neither of their motivations are as elaborated as they could be here.
I don't think Bagley was the right artist for an issue as focused on character as this one. His faces have always been very unique but I don't think they are great at conveying the characters' emotions. But this is still the best drawn X-team book. Hennessy's heavy inks mesh well with Bagley's lines and Woodard gives most of the book a diverse color palette, which really makes the book for me. If you are going to have panels that are as loaded as the ones in this issue, you might as well make them as distinctive as the ones here. Bagley's layouts also allows the reader to really take every shot in, very few pages in this issue more than 5 panels.
All-New X-Men #12 is on par with the rest of the series, it's an OK book if you already like the characters here. But at the same time Hopeless is taking a lot of time building up the team, as a reader figuring out who gets featured on each issue is basically a wild guess.