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Time travel should be banned from Bendis' work
on 16 September 2013
I only read this a couple of days ago but I drew a blank when I tried to recall what happened in this book and, upon flicking through it again, rediscovered that not a whole lot does. This isn't by itself a terribly bad thing as the book is eminently readable and more or less entertaining but it is a book where not only does very little happen, but it feels like a lot of stuff from the first book is repeated and the whole pointlessness of the situation is underlined more firmly in this book.
For those who don't know the setup, Beast went back in time and brought back the original X-Men to the present day, ostensibly to try and show present-day Scott Summers aka Cyclops just how much he's changed and to turn him off of the current path he's on, ie. war-mongering fugitive. This clearly doesn't work in the first book but rather than send the kids back and avoid some weird space-time conundrums, the kids are bizarrely "here to stay".
The Avengers find out what Beast did and are rightly annoyed at his reckless behaviour. I mean, Wolverine's latest time travel adventure basically ripped the very fabric of the space time continuum (see Age of Ultron) so Beast just nonchalantly changing the past on a whim is rightly something to be angry about. What is it about the X-Men that they think they can just do whatever the hell they want?
As for what happens in this book, young Scott, Jean, Hank, Bobby and Warren are getting used to the present day, reconciling what they'll do in the future, and what it means. Scott especially is conflicted about the person he will become while present-day Scott decides to start up his own rival school to Logan's with a different philosophy. Mystique on the other hand just decides the hell with it, let's just get rich and start robbing banks, and assembles her own gang of mutants to do just that.
As someone who's now reading the Battle of the Atom series, I can see why Bendis kept the past X-Men around, so from my perspective this volume feels like the characters are sitting around twiddling their thumbs in anticipation of that Event, further making this book seem intentionally like filler. And, once more, why no one is insisting the kids go back in time before they completely destroy the present/future remains a mystery to me. They just seem wilfully unwilling to for the sake of the future plot of Battle of the Atom, making Here to Stay all the more contrived.
That said, there's something compelling about seeing the present day X-Men and the past X-Men interacting that keeps me reading even though at the end of the book I wondered what the point of it all was. And, in keeping with the aim of Marvel NOW!, All-New X-Men does feel accessible for new readers and the fish-out-of-water angle is a well known trope to work for anyone picking up this book to understand. Here to Stay feels meaningless and ultimately it probably will be, more so than usual, but it's at least readable even if I really hate Bendis overusing time travel as a plot device. I think it's just me overthinking the setup that stops me from enjoying the story for what it is.