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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Top of the Pile: X-Men Regurgitation

by Ken Newquist / April 20, 2008

The X-Titles have gone through another cycle of relaunches in the wake of the Mutant Messiah crossover, most of which are disappointing.

Uncanny X-Men sees the X-Men team disbanded (again) in the wake of the apparent death of Professor Xavier. Colossus, Wolverine and Nightcrawler are touring Europe as Peter (Colossus) tries to get over the loss of his love Kitty Pryde (though we don't know exactly what happened to Kitty, since giant-sized Astonishing X-Men #1 hasn't been released yet). Meanwhile, Angel's lost in a trippy, 1960s-flashback San Francisco, and Cyclops and Emma have to try and find him. It's a decidedly low-key relaunch, but I don't mind this sort of X-downtime occasionally, and I'm willing to roll with it.

X-Factor

X-Factor sees Jamie Maddrox (Multiple Man) reeling from the events of Mutant Messiah; the heart and soul of his team, the truth-seeing mutant Layla, is lost in an alternative timeline, Wolfsbane has left to join a new secretive X-team (more on that in a minute) and Siren's pregnant with Jamie's child (but he doesn't know yet). It's highly dysfunctional, but it's also true to life, and as has been the case for the last two years, X-Factor's the book that has the most soul, and the characters who care most about.

X-Men: Legacy

There are four new X-titles. X-Men: Legacy continues the numbering scheme of X-Men but introduces its own muddled premise: Professor Xavier, who appeared to have died after having his brains blown out at the end of Mutant Messiah turns out to only have been mostly dead. The former herald of Magento, Exodus, has his Acolytes recover Xavier's body, then re-grows his brain. He then invites the de=powered-Magento to his secret lair in an effort o jump-start Xavier's psyche and return him to the land of the living. The last two books have been an exploration of the resulting head trip.

I'm not making this up. It's a stupid premise; it would have been far, far better to leave Xavier dead, and then explored the former headmaster's legacy by forming a team that was committed to achieving his dream. I'm sorely tempted to cancel it now, except the collector in me doesn't want to leave a hole in an X-Men collection that goes back to Issue #1.

X-Force

The relaunched X-Force gives the covert X-strike force from Mutant Messiah its own title. The team's comprised of all of the X-Men's best trackers, hunters, and killers -- Wolverine, Warpath, Wolfsbane, X-23 -- and was formed by Cyclops (the current defacto leader of the X-Tribe) to track down the enemies of mutantkind ... and kill them.

It's a brutal, dreary title, and one that's essentially realizes Xavier's worst nightmares: mutants trained to kill, rather than protect. In an better days, this would have been a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants; now they're the heroes.

The team itself doesn't make much sense; if comics, role-playing games and HeroClix have taught me anything, it's that a homogeneous team of like-minded and like-powered supers is doomed to failure. You need a team with a good mix of abilities, so that your enemies can't easily shutdown by anyone threat. Sending out a bunch of Wolverine clones to fight your enemies just isn't a good idea.

The most interesting thing about the title is Wolverine's reluctant leadership of it; he's gone from being the murderous barbarian outsider to being the leader of a team who's founding principles he doesn't necessarily agree with. That aspect of the story has potential, but I don't know that it's enough to overcome the book's muddy colors and high body count. I'll give it to Issue #3 to come up with a reason for me to stick around.

Young X-Men

The X-Men were disbanded because Xavier and his dream are dead. So said Cyclops, except, it seems, Xavier isn't dead, and Cyclops really isn't disbanding the X-Men. Instead, he's forming a new team, using rookies, to go after a new threat: the resurrected Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The new team are the Young X-Men, and they're comprised of a few survivors from the previous teenaged X-team (New X-Men) plus a few new mutants we've never heard of before (which is surprising given that there are only supposed to be 199 left).

I get why Marvel wants to have a young X-team -- it's an appealing demographic -- but the premise of the book doesn't work for me. I could see it a year from now, after we've had a chance to live in a world without X-Men for a while, but relaunching it. Then again Xavier's not really dead, so why bother?

The identity of the new Brotherhood is revealed at the end of issue #1, and I've got to say ... huh? what? I won't ruin it for those who haven't read the book yet, but suffice to say that the new Brotherhood is comprised of some old friends, and I really don't like where this is heading. I'll give it one more issue, but then it's on the chopping block.

Cable

At the end of Mutant Messiah, Cable escapes to the future with the mutant baby that inspired the entire crossover. He's pursued by Bishop, who's hellbent on killing said baby to prevent his nightmare timeline from becoming a reality.

It's not a bad setup, but Cable and Bishop have had their own titles before, and neither did a particularly good job at capturing fan interest. I can't say that this one, which so far as been long on setup, short of action, is going to be any better. I like Cable as a character, and I think the idea of him acting as a protector for a mutant child is a nice juxtaposition of roles (given his own history as a baby sent to the future for his own protection) but so far this book is slow going.

Final Analysis

With the exception of X-Factor and perhaps Uncanny X-Men, the X-Title titles feel like their going swiftly no where. They're recycling concepts (Young Ex-Men, Cable) creating new one that no one wants (X-Men: Legacy) and spawning monsters that the true X-Men should be fighting X-Force). I'd like to think that things will pick up, but unfortunately I think we're stuck with these lackluster books for the foreseeable future.

Comments

HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!

DC is better. :p

But seriously, wow. I was a huge X-fan back in the 80s, when I really started getting into Marvel books and kept my fan card through much of the 90s. I saw my favorite muties through some truly awe-inspiring stories (Dark Phoenix, Inferno, the Siege Perilous story arcs, the Marauders story lines, the Hellfire club stories, Days of Future Past, the founding of the Excalibur team, to name a few off the top of my head).

I thought the cartoon series in the 90s was near perfect and I still enjoyed the edgier cartoon series from 5 or 6 years ago. I really liked the first XMen movie and LOVED the second XMen movie.

But every time you talk about what's happening in the X books now, I just shake my head in sadness. I can't BELIEVE what Marvel has allowed to happen to the XMen. It makes me angry and disgusted.

>I'm sorely tempted to cancel it now, except the collector in me
>doesn't want to leave a hole in an X-Men collection that goes back to
>Issue #1.

Ah, the Collector's Imperative, why Marvel and DC continue to sell some really bad books and why I got out of comics entirely.

True that, though honestly, it only gets you so far. Legacy's been painfully bad, and while the urge to keep my collection intact is strong, I don't know that it will survive the spring. I can easily see cutting back my X-titles to Uncanny and X-factor by June.

Talk to me again after Batman R.I.P comes out. Someone needs to keep Grant Morrison away from mainstream titles; he can do brilliant stuff, but he has this nasty habit of butchering the books just for the sake of bloodletting.

The most frustrating part is that things were really looking up coming out of Mutant Messiah; they had a chance to regain their footing, and they blew it.

1. Morrison should definitely stay away from mainstream books. He's great, but tends to try and fix what isn't broken, or make it even more broken than it was before.
2. X-men is one of the reasons I pretty much quit marvel. In the crap ratio between Marvel and DC... Marvel definitely puts more crappy books on the shelf.

Yeah, I've been hearing rumors about the end of Bruce Wayne for a while. I can do nothing but wait and see. (And I frickin HATE Grant Morrison. Seriously.)

Batman suffers from most of the same problems as the XBooks and any 60 year old series dealing with the same character. The main problem is that you can't generally progress beyond a certain point. Batman (and most other comicbook characters) doesn't get old. He doesn't die.

So the writers are stuck with Batman in his mid-thirties, even as the rest of his extended family age (Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin, for example).

To combat the problem of the never ending story, comic book writers come up with all kinds of weird stuff. With the XMen (and Spider Man. And Captain America. And the Avengers.), these writers just come up with MORE weird stuff that is more EXTREMELY weird (IMO).

So we'll see what they do with Bruce Wayne. Hopefully they won't screw him up on a Marvel-scale.

Sigh. Well, at least Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Birds of Prey, Justice League and most importantly, the Justice Society of America, continue to be quality books.

And Wonder Woman is pretty darn good, too.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that was about Morrison. He can do good stuff but sometimes he just tries too ... damn ... hard.

Regarding Marvel vs. D.C.: I hear that Countdown is doing it's best to even up that ratio. :)

So thats why Colossus was all talking about lost love. Glad to hear marvel is following it's continuity. Too bad that continuity hasn't happened yet...

I've already given up on X-men Legacy and X-Force, but I'll give the rest a bit more time.

That's my guess. I'm only inferring that from the fact that Kitty wasn't in a great position at the end of the Astonishing run; it's nothing official, and hell, she could be alive again before Giant-Sized Astonishing is even released.