One of the perks of dropping the classic, still-green X-Men into the present day, is to watch them react to what's in the here and now. Nowhere is that more clear than the first pages of issue #26. It's a good 'un. Spoilers follow.

Teen Jean Grey is having nightmares about losing control of her new-found power. Grown-up Scott checks on her, and they have... frankly, an absolutely crazy-important conversation.

Relationships are weird. How you are with one person may be nothing like how you are around someone different. Even then, the person who brings out the best in you may not see all of that person when others are around. Privacy matters. This issue begins with what may be the first time Young Jean and Present-Day Scott have been alone together since this whole mess began.

So yeah. They get a chance to talk, and this powerful, vibrant, hormonal young woman winds up hitting on the older, wiser version of her almost-boyfriend. I totally get that. Scott shoots her down, gently but firmly. He takes his leave, and runs into Professor Kitty Pryde, who tells him in no uncertain terms that she never wants to see him spending time alone with Jean again. Which is fair.

It's a day for hurt feelings, as X-23 takes a hike off the plantation. Not knowing her well, Teen Angel still intuits that it has something to do with her feelings for Teen Scott. She doesn't deny it, but she doesn't open up either. Not surprising, since she hasn't got the first idea how.

This is, of course, when a bear shows up and says "Muoorr!" This is our first hint that things aren't what they seem. Wild animals usually don't enjoy the luxury of word bubbles. Their growls, hoots, and hollers are expressed as sound effects. The fact that the bear says "Muoorr!" is cause for alarm.

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X-23 runs off, only to run into Teen Scott... who's not currently on the planet. Before she can suss out that it's a shapeshifter, he stabs her in the gut and steals her backpack. (Too bad she didn't use the super senses she inherited from her 'dad'.)

It's indeed bad news, as she crawls back to the campus... with the future X-baddies (first appearing in the event comic Children of the Atom) soon to be knocking on their front door.

My spider-sense is tingling on that one, though. Just because she was stabbed by a shapeshifter doesn't mean he/she was connected to the future X-baddies. There's no sign of her backpack with any of the approaching villains on the splash closing page. Also, none of those X-jerks would deliver a line like "I took no joy in that." Any one of them would definitely enjoy it. So that's a thing.

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On the whole, it's fine chapter. Limited settings leaves us more 'space' to deal with individual scenes, rather than bouncing all over the place. Brian Michael Bendis' writing remains sharp— his 'voices' for these characters is distinct as ever. It's gorgeous to look at, Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger's work (outstanding name, btw) is matched nicely w/ Marte Gracia's colors. It's consistently fine work.

And that cliffhanger's not too shabby, either. What do you think?

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