Welcome to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly column that answers the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?” This week there are four X-Books on the stands, which will cost you a total of $17 to buy and take roughly eight minutes to read. If that seems like a waste of time and money, you can keep your money by reading our recaps for free. We make no promises about the use of your time, however.
This week, we’ve got Phoenix: Resurrection #4, X-Men Blue #20, X-Men: Blue Annual #1, and Legion #1. Let’s take a look at X-Men: Blue #20.
X-Men Blue #20
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Penciler: R.B. Silva
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
We pick up the Cross Time Capers story from the previous issue, which was basically a whole lot of X-pository dialogue ending in the reveal that Charles Xavier II and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from Earth-13729 were masquerading as the original five X-Men back in their original time while the original X-Men have been in the present. The original X-Men arrived in time to stop the fake X-Men from killing Magneto, which had royally screwed up the timeline in the future they are now trying to prevent. Phew! Time travel is hard!
The issue opens with Xavier II monologuing about why he’s decided to replace the X-Men in the past. Bloodstorm is sick and tired of all the x-position, so she attacks Xorn. Xavier II tries to retaliate, but Jean blocks his powers. The X-Men and their new best friend, old school Magneto, battle the Brotherhood, but Magneto is mostly just disappointed that the Brotherhood weren’t really the X-Men, because he was a fan of their work (even though it included trying to kill him).
Jean runs off to find the professor, and Beast, having learned nothing from his older self screwing up the timeline by bringing the X-Men to the present or from his own flirtation with dark magic, brings a crapload of X-Men from throughout the timestream to battle the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is defeated a page later and escape into the timestream. The other X-Men Beast invited also disappear, just in time for Jean to arrive with Professor X, who explains that he sent a telepathic message through time to call the X-Men back where they belong.
But listen: they can’t stay. Professor X says that the X-Men must return to the exact moment they left so that nothing will have changed in the timeline. Indeed, back in the future, the X-Men talk to Magneto, who doesn’t remember anything, but confirms that his old Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the one that were murdered by the alternate future Brotherhood masquerading as the X-Men, are still alive, which means they have to go back at some point.
The issue ends with present-day Magneto (and not past Magneto, which our commenters had to point out to us — time travel is hard) locating the alternate-universe Brotherhood before they can travel back in time and replace the X-Men again and announcing his intentions to kill them. Ooh, he’s such a bad guy!
Everything was wrapped up pretty neatly here, and we know we’ve got about one more storyline left with the original five X-Men before they become lost in space and a new team takes over the book in April. X-Men Blue has consistently been the superior core X-Book compared to X-Men Gold, even if it hasn’t been quite as good as the ancillary X-titles. If you’ve been reading so far, you might as well continue, but if not, April’s team reboot will be a good jumping on point.