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Sep 16

The X-Axis – 16 September 2012

Posted on Sunday, September 16, 2012 by Paul in x-axis

Hey, you know what the world needs this week?  A truly ridiculous quantity of X-Men comics!  Set the dial to excessive!

(Poor Astonishing X-Men must be wondering why it didn’t get to ship an issue this week.  Everyone else did.)

Avengers vs X-Men #11 – And so here it is.  The moment that must come in every crossover.  The obligatory death of a character who hasn’t had a significant role in the story, but whose demise might justify a press release.

Yes, it’s time again for Professor X to lay down his life in the name of dramatic tension.  And in principle, this really isn’t a bad idea.  The character has arguably outlived his usefulness.  He’s already been more or less written out of the X-Men’s stories.  In fact, even as far back as the 1980s, Chris Claremont was regularly booting the guy into space to get rid of him and free up space for another character at the top of the tree.  Plus, if Cyclops is going to be out of the picture at the end of this series – and frankly, it rather looks as though he is – there are more possibilities with Xavier gone than there are with him around.  It means that another character will have to fill that role, and let’s be honest, that’s more interesting than hitting the reset button and making him the headmaster of Wolverine’s school.

And of course it ought to make a good moment to show that Scott has finally gone off the rails, just like the rest of the Phoenix Five.

So I don’t have a problem with the concept.  The execution, on the other hand, leaves quite a lot to be desired.

For a start, there’s the fact that Xavier hasn’t had a major role in the story.  He’s had a couple of minor subplot scenes in order to stop his appearance here coming as a complete bolt from the blue, but essentially, this story has not been about Scott and Xavier’s relationship.  Quite simply, as a Big Emotional Moment, this is relying on the work done by stories before it, since Avengers vs X-Men itself did very little to set this up as a story beat.

Perhaps more fundamental is that, just like the supposed death of Winter Soldier in Fear Itself, the story utterly fails to convey that he’s actually dead.  This is a remarkable breakdown of storytelling, and you would like to think that Marvel would have learned from their mistake last time round.  But bluntly, there is nothing in this story to convey that he’s dead, without reading the press release.  Nothing happens to him that looks any more drastic than what Scott does to Emma on the previous page – where the dialogue helpfully spells out that she’s not dead.

I read this issue already knowing that somebody died in it.  And when I read Xavier’s death scene, I didn’t realise that was it.

That’s how badly the storytelling here has been botched.  Again.

Look, I realise that you don’t necessarily want to have characters standing around spelling out the plot, and that’s fine.  But only if the storytelling is otherwise clear.  And this just isn’t.  Can you tell me how I am supposed to figure out that Xavier is dead and Emma isn’t, based solely on the content of the printed page?  Because I don’t see it.

This isn’t the only clarity problem, to be honest, but it’s the most fundamental one.  Given that this is basically an issue-long fight scene, you have to wonder who decided to assign this particular issue to Brian Bendis.  It’s never been one of his strong suits.  He’s a character writer first and foremost, and his action scenes tend to be neither especially inventive nor desperately clear.  To be fair, artist Olivier Coipel isn’t always helping either.  For example, the idea that Xavier distracts Cyclops by trapping him in an illusionary conversation while the battle has started without him – that’s quite clever.  That’s a nice idea.

But the big reveal doesn’t really work, because it’s entirely unclear what’s happening in the real world.  Notionally, the plot seems to be that the Avengers and X-Men are already fighitng Emma, but what the art actually shows is a bunch of people standing around Cyclops looking stern, with Emma in the background, and a bunch of other characters looking at her in a vaguely concerned manner, a couple of them in a “ready for action” stance.  (And Polaris facing the wrong way entirely.)  It’s quite an attractive composition, but what does it actually show?  And unfortunately, that sets the tone for much of what follows, which is essentially characters gesturing at one another and unintelligible displays of energy blasting, with no particular sense of where anyone is actually located relative to one another.

This is a shame, because to be fair, Bendis does a better job when it comes to his traditional strength – characterisation.  He hammers Xavier as the loving father a bit hard, but at least he establishes the point clearly enough, and better late than never.  And I do like the way he writes Scott, who doesn’t simply go crazy, but remains an essentially decent character now seeing the world through the Phoenix’s prism, unable to grasp why everyone else can’t see things his way.  The central ideas of this story aren’t bad at all – it’s just a shame they haven’t been executed better.

New Avengers #30 – Let’s wring a few more crossovers out of this poor beleaguered miniseries before it’s too late!  This issue is actually about Luke Cage deciding whether he should quit the Avengers in order to spend more time with his family.  But it counts as an Avengers vs X-Men tie-in because – honestly, this is the tie-in – he worries about it while taking Emma Frost to jail after Avengers vs X-Men #11.  She just sits in the back of a truck for most of the issue and tries to make a break for it when the bad guys attack – but she’s there, and that’s your crossover.

So, yeah, it’s the New Avengers fighting the Purifiers over a truck for the better part of an issue.  There is a rather nice double page spread which is supposed to represent the turning point in Luke’s mind, with lots of images of his family life obscuring the page – but other than that, it’s a forgettable fight scene of no particular importance to the crossover.

Uncanny X-Force #31 – Rick Remender is nearing the end of his run on this title, and it would seem that this particular incarnation of the team is also heading for the shelf.  (The next version of X-Force is going back to Cable and Miscellaneous Others.)  I’ve enjoyed Remender’s run for the most part, but I’m also glad that it’s ending, because it looks as though Remender is indeed going to tie everything together into a complete over-arching story.  And it’s one which won’t just resolve the storyline of Evan the little Apocalypse Clone Kid; it also looks set to address head-on the question of whether the title characters are hard-nosed soldiers doing what needs to be done, or just a bunch of killers.

In that context, Evan’s story serves as an interesting contrast for the team’s ethical dilemmas.  As a black ops team, they’re used to appearing in stories where they fight unequivocally evil bad guys and kill them without remorse.  But Evan’s arc is about whether Apocalypse really is innately evil, or whether a fresh version raised from scratch might turn out differently.  We’re supposed to root for him to reject his heritage and live up to his comically naive idea of heroism – and we do – but it’s a view of the character that sits very uneasily with the way X-Force themselves generally act.

That central argument also goes some way towards explaining what characters like Daken and Sabretooth are doing in the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  While I’m still not a huge fan of just piling up random villains to form the opposition, both those characters (and to a lesser extent Mystique) do share a general rejection of the whole hero/villain set-up that justifies X-Force’s existence.  To Daken, X-Force is a textbook example of Wolverine’s hypocrisy, and he has a point.

That said, quite what the Brotherhood would stand to gain by turning Evan into Apocalypse again, isn’t altogether apparent.  None of them are characters who seem like they would want to put in all this effort just to pyrrhically prove a point.   And I still don’t have a great deal of time for the Skinless Man, who remains decidedly one dimensional.  But there are some really interesting ideas here, and ones that look set to tie up Remender’s whole run in a satisfying way.

Uncanny X-Men #18 – This is essentially Avengers vs X-Men #11 from a different perspective, though one that appears to imply that Scott is experiencing two different illusionary realities at the same time.  I guess that’s possible, though it does seem a little odd

At any rate, this is the sort of story that actually does need to be covered again in Uncanny, in order for the series itself to hang together.  You can scarcely have the climax of Cyclops’ arc take place entirely elsewhere.  And there are quite a few good bits here – Kate Kildare’s reflection on how to spin the Phoenix Five; Scott continuing to cling to the idea that he’s a hero even as he drifts further and further out of touch with the real world.  His rejection of Magneto’s concerns is lovely dialogue, which starts off pretty standard and suddenly goes in a rather unexpected direction.  (“I’m nothing like you,” Scott retorts.  “I’m winning.”)  The contrast between him and Emma is also nicely done; both of them are losing their grip on reality, but they’re doing it in ways that still feel specific to them.

The issue also checks in on Colossus and Magik as they come down from the Phoenix.  This is a great scene – not only does it firmly re-establish the Juggernaut storyline that rather got shouldered aside by the crossover, but it actively uses the crossover to relaunch the arc, and then hits you with a genuinely shocking explanation of what Magik has been up to.  One that makes perfect sense, though.

That scene aside, it’s ultimately another version of Avengers vs X-Men #11- but it’s a very good version, and the dialogue is great.

Wolverine and the X-Men #16 – Another one from the “notionally a crossover” category.  This is actually the origin story of Kade Kilgore, and the sum total of its crossover content is that the Phoenix Five show up for four pages near the start to take the kids into custody.  The rest of the issue is them wreaking havoc in Rykers Island, explaining Kade’s back story and how he ended up in charge of the Hellfire Club, and then escaping.

Kade is something of a problematic character, because he’s ultimately rather ridiculous.  He’s a twelve year old criminal mastermind, and you’ve got to hit a certain tone in order for that to work.  Generally, Wolverine and the X-Men does hit that tone, even if the kids would look rather out of place in other books.  With this issue, though, we seem to have an attempt to do the childhood of a sociopath, and I’m not really convinced that it works.  It seems to be trying to give him the history of a proper character, and fundamentally, if you ask me to think about Kade in that way, I run up against major problems of suspension of disbelief.

Basically, I can buy him and his cohorts as a random bit of craziness in a crazy book – but I don’t buy them as characters.  I really don’t think they work on that level; yes, this is the Marvel Universe, and that gives you a lot of leeway in what counts as plausible, but there’s still a limit.  This is the X-Men, not the Powerpuff Girls.

X-Men #35 – The concluding part of “Subterraneans”, and while it does see Storm’s team retrieve the DNA sample from the weird religious cult, it clearly doesn’t end the “ancient mutant DNA” storyline.  Presumably that’s running through the whole of Brian Wood’s run on this series, which is kind of a shame, since for reasons I’ve gone into before, I don’t think the concept works.

Still, there are plenty of good things here.  I do like the cult leader character – it’s a nice change in these stories to have one who actually does believe in what he’s saying, and appears to be just a bit unhinged rather than secretly malicious.  If anything, you almost feel a bit sorry for him – he just wants to inject himself with ancient mutant DNA and see what happens.  It’s hardly a villainous scheme.  As he points out, it’s firmly in a proud (if irrational) tradition of people trying to enhance themselves using powdered rhino horn and so forth.

And the art is very strong throughout, even if pages have had to be split between two artists with seemingly very different styles.  Roland Boschi’s characters are angular, David Lopez’s are much smoother, but they actually fit together rather well.  Partly that’s sympathetic colouring, but there’s also a fair amount of similarity in their layouts, despite the differences in how they render the characters.  A good couple of issues here.

X-Men Legacy #273 – In which Rogue helps singlehandedly end a global conflict before going back home to rejoin the crossover.  This is one of those stories that has some perfectly good ideas but really needed a few more issues if it was going to work.  There are strong ideas in the two warring races – essentially, the rugged individualists and the communists – and that metaphor would have worked nicely at greater length.

But to resolve the story in this amount of space, Christos Gage has to rush it, and at that point it all starts to feel a bit too convenient.  A massive world war is apparently brought to a shuddering halt with a single confrontation; the subsequent reconciliation comes a little too close to “Wow, we’re all friends now and by pooling our respective skills, it turns out everything will be wonderful.”  It’s not quite that heavyhanded, but it really does get too close for comfort.

Some nice ideas, though, and Gage does write a good Rogue.  It’s just a bit too compressed, so that a parallel that was always going to be fairly clear ends up being thumpingly plain.

X-Treme X-Men #3 – The end of the first arc is something of an improvement.  The tension about whether the group has been misled about its mission is nicely built, and Pak starts to throw in details to build the characters (and back stories) of his cast members.  Generally, there’s a bit more depth here than there was to the previous issue.

That said, the details of this world seem decidedly confused.  The recap page describes it as a Bronze Age world, which is broadly what we seemed to see in the first two issues.  But this issue has what appears to be a steampunk island and a ruined city of skyscrapers.  You could view that as hinting at a rich backstory, but it comes across more as a bit confused.

The art takes a step up from last issue’s rather messy work, perhaps helped by some fill-in work by Paco Diaz on some pages.  It’s still not great, but it’s at least serviceable.

Still, the fixing of all the world’s problems is ridiculously abrupt, and it doesn’t solve that problem just to have the characters ironically draw attention to the fact.  And it seems way too early to write out Emmeline Frost, which seems to come entirely out of nowhere – though I suppose it’s possible that we’ll be seeing her again down the line.

Bring on the comments

  1. Suzene says:

    re: X-Treme X-Men #3 – Pak, not Gage. God, Paul! Avengers Academy and Legacy are up for the axe while X-Treme gets to live, and you have to go and rub salt in the wound. 😉

    WATXM #16 – More proof that Aaron is only interested in writing his pet characters. Shame I’m not interested in reading about them.

  2. Somebody says:

    Couple of bits have gone wrong. Firstly, this sentence (and paragraph)…

    > The contrast between him and Emma is also nicely done; she’s

    …just stops after “she’s”

    Secondly, XXM’s written by Greg Pak, not Gage.

  3. Tdubs says:

    So I read a comic this week where Charles Xavier became Jesus and the Hulk shows up why? Hulk’s only scene in the fight was so botched by the art.

    All new X-Men. The originals show up to learn three of them become world ending threats one turns into a monster and the fifth remains insignificant to everyone. $3.99 every two weeks, going to be a tough sell for me.

  4. Mike says:

    I quite like X-Treme X-Men, and really do hope it catches on…your review is pretty spot on, however, the issues you’ve pointed out don’t so much bother me as the whole thing is generally so high concept/OTT.

    I love that Howlett is gay, too!

  5. Paul says:

    Whoops. Both errors fixed now.

  6. wwk5d says:

    “So I don’t have a problem with the concept. The execution, on the other hand, leaves quite a lot to be desired.”

    I think this can sum up the entire crossover as a whole.

    Xavier’s death would have more meaning if we had seen him more not just in this crossover but in the regular titles throughout, to see how much the dynamic between him and Scott has changed. But it seems like Marvel doesn’t know what to do with him, so they decided to kill him off here.

    Speaking of which, how long do you all give before he returns? I give them 2 years.

    I will miss this version of X-force. Along with X-Factor and New Mutants, I’m actually enjoying it more than the core X-men titles.

    I wouldn’t miss Kade Kilgore if he is never seen or heard from again.

    It seems like many of the titles have to wrap their storylines in time for the NOW! NOW! NOW! reboot. Too bad, I didn’t mind the status quo set up by Schism. Now if only Marvel would get rid of the Decimation status quo…

  7. maxwell's hammer says:

    That Magik/Colossus scene was one of the best comic book scenes I’ve read all year. It was so delicately scripted and conveyed the complicated balance of how sad and awful Illyana has become. And Ron Garney’s art matched it in the subtle portrayal of Illyana’s hopefullness and Peter’s deflated sadness and confusion. Those were the best five pages of Uncanny X-Men since before Matt Fraction’s run.

    And how it fits in with the events of AvXM notwithstanding, that was also a great moment where Emma realizes the fight in the real world isn’t going so well. Again, an interesting and effective mix of sadness and fear from a character who is an expert at hiding all that.

    UXM has been all over the place in terms of quality for many many years, but it seemed like the stars aligned for at least a few scenes in #18.

  8. James Moar says:

    “Speaking of which, how long do you all give before he returns? I give them 2 years.”
    The sequel to X-Men: First Class is out July 2014, so about then, I’d say.

  9. Artlight says:

    I’m surprised how positive you are about AvX. IMO, the whole thing has been a spectacular mess (with some rather lovely art by Coipel).
    Now that I think about it I have the exact same opinion about AvX that I did about Civil War: the art is nice but the story is just terrible because the writers pretty much destroy characters just to make one side be in the right and the other be the bad guys, even though they include plenty of hooks to make both sides look good.
    For example, in issue 4 or 5 we had a scene of Beast saying he was tired of fighting his friends leaving a window open to the possibility that not all Avengers thought the Phoenix 5 were bad… and yet there was absolutely no follow up to that. Heck, in this issue we have Iceman basically treating Cyclops like a regular supervillan instead of like a friend who is kinda being controlled which ignores the fact that until this issue Emma was probably the more obvious villain (wasn’t she enslaving the X-Men who stayed in Utopia last issue?).

    I guess I should get used to this taking in count the whole Marvel NOW! thing is basically pandering to the Avengers fanbase thanks to the movie, but it’s still a terrible crossover.

  10. Daibhid Ceannadeach says:

    Have they done a story where there’s a hilarious mixup between Kade Kilgore and Kate Kildare yet?

  11. Dave says:

    I do have a problem the whole concept of AvX, too. Was expecting it to be about Hope and the Phoenix, not for that to be ditched a third of the way in. Mmaybe the last issue goes back to it, but inbetween the whole Phoenix Five bit’s been…something between silly and dull. And all just to get to ‘Phoenix turns Cyclops evil’? Too predictable.
    As for this issue in particular – started reding it without looking who was writing, and as soon as Cap was talking around Hulk (which seems to happen purely because of the movieverse) it was all-too obviously Bendis dialogue. Xavier’s death is just SO DULL – oh, big event, needs big death – and I do have a problem with the idea again, too, as it’s his umpteenth supposed death, and Messiah Complex all those years ago ended with him practically brain dead. The only question is whether he’ll be walking or not when he comes back (wheelchair bound in First Class 2, so probably not).
    Fear Itself and this have put the last nails in the coffin for Marvel events, IMO.

  12. Si says:

    I miss narration boxes. The death scene in Avengers vs X-Men sounds like it would have benefited greatly from it. As would Bucky’s death in the last event, and Wasp’s death before that. The general thinking seems to be that narration boxes are childish, but what they do is free up the artist to show the most interesting scene, rather than just the one that progresses the story most effectively. I mean often the artist should be able to do both, but why limit yourself?

  13. Brian says:

    Back when Kyle and Yost were writing New X-Men, I thought that series could be much improved with a new writer and by having Xavier step in to assume the responsibility of training/teaching the young squad.

    It really shouldn’t be difficult to figure out what to do with someone named “Professor X.” He’s a professor. Have him profess. If the senior X-Men have outgrown the need for a professor professing things to them, then you stick him with a bunch of kids. I would have enjoyed interactions between Xavier and say Santos, for example.

  14. Lawrence says:

    The Magik/ Colossus bit in Uncanny X-men is probably the only genuine surprise in the AvX crossover. Not only that, but it was great! Before this, I was getting a little bored with both their characters, but this twist has made more interested in the characters than ever before.

    I’m a little worried since Colossus is going to be in the X-Force book, but I’m hoping Gillen gets to write more on the subject in in AvX: Consequences mini-series.

  15. alex says:

    I guess I was right about Scott’s heel turn, although I thought he would kill Emma and/or Hope.

    Well, there’s one more issue.

  16. Matt C. says:

    I knew an X-Man was going to die in AvX #11 because of all the teasers. To be honest, I thought it would be Emma – I figured it’d be one of the Phoenix Five, and it wouldn’t be Namor/Magik/Colossus since they got depowered and weren’t really big-names (except Colossus, who’s already died). Didn’t think it would be Cyclops because of the Marvel NOW! adverts. That just left Emma, and her turning full evil seemed obvious given some of her prior scenes (such as the one with all the X-Men bowing to her). But no, apparently Professor X bites the dust (and like Paul, I wasn’t sure he was supposed to be dead either from the art). Big whup, considering 1) he’s “died” multiple times before and 2) he’s already been pretty marginalized in the X-books for awhile now. Having Cylcops be the one making the heel turn should’ve been obvious given the horrendous characterization in this event, though. Even with how much of a bastard he’s been in the years leading up to this, the Cyclops we’ve seen in AvX doesn’t feel like Cyclops at all.

    I also really enjoy Uncanny X-Force and I’ll be sad to see it end, but I’m also happy that it has a set end in mind. I wish more authors did that, and it’s no coincidence that some of the best runs on X-Men we’ve had in recent history (Morrison, Whedon, and Remeder’s UXF) have been such.

  17. The Universal Guardian says:

    The comparisons between AVX and Civil War are inevitable, but I have more respect for the former than the latter, simply because Marvel did not drum up high expectations like they did with CW. That being said…I did not understand the Prof’s death at first either.

    Not to mention I was totally cynical about it, brushing it off with an “eh”. He’ll be back.

  18. NB says:

    Considering he hasn’t been used in a significant role for years I’m willing to take their word that this time it will stick for a while.

    Say five years or more.

  19. ZZZ says:

    SPOILERS, but it’s stuff that’s been discussed around here several times:

    You know, I figured that the existence of AoA Nightcrawler in X-Force – and now young Kurt in X-Treme X-Men – pretty much meant that they didn’t plan to bring 616 Nightcrawler back to life, at least until those characters are no longer active. And the fact that they’re bringing in a young Jean for All-New X-Men makes me think that they’re doing their best to write off the idea of ever bringing dead Jean back to life, unless All-New X-Men bombs horribly and they send the young X-Men back to the past.

    So maybe as long as X-Treme X-Men is giving us an alternate Xavier, they won’t feel the need to bring the one that just died back. Or maybe a younger Xavier will be included with the All-New group.

  20. NB says:

    I think the characters in X-Treme are mostly irrelevant to what Marvel does with their main universe. It will hardly be around for more than 12 issues anyway.

    Sure looks as if the AOA-Crawler was brought in to replace Nightcrawler, though. But I don’t believe we will get a Xavier replacement, the whole idea is to explore the meaning of his dream with him no longer around. The premise of Uncanny Avengers basically, and also a huge part of the setup for All-New X-Men.

  21. Daibhid Ceannadeach: I constantly typo that when writing scripts.

  22. argus says:

    Very sad that Uncanny x-force is ending. It’s been a treat, had some great art and genuinely posed some interesting moral questions, and had great character beats. But at least it seems to have been planned, and will end on a high.

    Also sad that Gillen is off uncanny X-Men. Him and remender have been getting great reviews, I wonder what decision prompted the shuffle?

    Shame AvsX has been sloppy and mishandled disaster from start to finish.

  23. arseface says:

    “For example, the idea that Xavier distracts Cyclops by trapping him in an illusionary conversation while the battle has started without him – that’s quite clever. That’s a nice idea.”

    OK, I read the comic and had no idea that happened. I just thought Cyclops was suddenly ambushed.

    At least the Bendis script wasn’t too “Bendisy”, i.e. unnecessary dialogue and endless out-of-character snarking.

  24. moose n squirrel says:

    The speed with which Cyclops and company went from quasi-recognizable characters with understandable motivations to cartoonish, one-dimensional supervillains was pretty breathtaking. And whatever happened to the whole “reversing M-Day” thing? Wasn’t that the whole reason Cyclops was so gung-ho on the Phoenix in the first place? But it never gets mentioned after they actually get the Phoenix power. What a mess.

  25. Niall says:

    Yeah, in spite of some great ideas, AVX was poorly executed. It is unfortunately full of plotholes and mischaracterisations. I have to say I’ve loved Gillen’s run and wish he was continuing. He really showed the potential that the central concept behind AVX had.

    Would love to read a Kate Kildare series. Something along the lines of She Hulk could work.

  26. Suzene says:

    @moose n squirrel – The X-Men realized that even with the Phoenix, they can’t get the X-gene back on track without Hope. Just an exceedingly minor plot point that the writers forget to actually include in the story itself.

  27. The original Matt says:

    This crossover sounds horrible. Can’t wait for the trade.

  28. Hellsau says:

    Uncanny X-Men #18 was wonderful.

  29. moose n squirrel says:

    @Suzene – was that one of those plot points that was delivered through a testy interview/blog post/tweet from Tom Brevoort? That seems to be an increasingly popular form of storytelling at Marvel these days.

  30. kelvingreen says:

    I have to admit to feeling a little bit ill when I saw Bendis in The Guardian last week describing his own writing in Avengers vs X-Men #11 as “Shakespearean”. I hope he was being tongue-in-cheek, but I fear that he was not.

  31. Dave says:

    Alas, poor Xavier! I knew him, Logan.
    – Xavier? He of the most excellent dream?
    Aye, Xavier. Here hung those legs that hath been rendered useless I know not how oft. Prithee, Logan, tell me one thing.
    – One thing?
    One thing.
    – One thing, then. Have at it, my hirsute friend.
    Dost thou think the resurrection of our esteemed mentor shall occur ere the second of the sagas of First Class?
    – Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

  32. acespot says:

    One can only Hope…

  33. Dan Coyle says:

    Kelvin: I vote for tongue in cheek- there’s no way he can’t know how bad his work is at this point.

  34. The original Matt says:

    Is anyone else fearing that the original team coming to the present may be the first step to getting the titles “back on track” similar to one more day?

    Marvel tend to consider “back on track” as undoing the previous status quo. In this case, erasing the last ten or so years and getting us back to pre Morrison?

  35. Niall says:

    Back on Track eh? Like Heroes Reborn? Like One More Day? Like No More Mutants?

    I imagine that the All New X-Men will have a lot in common with the above.

  36. Taibak says:

    All-New X-Men reminds me of the end of Scott Lobdell’s Alpha Flight run. A duplicate team was a bad idea then and it’s a bad idea now.

  37. The original Matt says:

    @Niall… Exactly like those stories you mentioned.

  38. The original Matt says:

    Oh, I attended the marvel superheroes 4d at madame toussads today. Pretty cool little video. (stilted dialogue, though. Haha)

  39. Niall says:

    Actually, for people who want to know how Bendis would write teen X-Men, check out his Ultimate X-Men run.

    Half of it was a Spiderman/Wolverine crossover, and the other half was a relatively inoffensive story about a bunch of new mutants. I may be mistaken, but I think that arc gave us Ultimate Dazzler.

  40. wwk5d says:

    The first arc was yeah, basically a Unltimate Marvel Team-up which wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel like an Ultimate X-men story. But, his second arc, New Mutants, I actually enjoyed, and I’m not usually a Bendis fan. And yes, it did give us Ultimate Dazzler (and Ultimate Angel, Havok, Emma Frost, and many others…).

  41. Niall says:

    It was a weird arc. It basically introduced a new government sponsored team, killed Beast and then it all came to nothing.

    The characters who were introduced were largely ignored until Loeb needed somebody to kill.

  42. wwk5d says:

    Vaughn got some good mileage out of them, actually.

  43. clay says:

    It was a weird arc. It basically introduced a new government sponsored team, killed Beast and then it all came to nothing.

    To be fair, I *think* Bendis was originally supposed to be on Ult XM for longer than he turned out to be.

    At least the Bendis script wasn’t too “Bendisy”, i.e. unnecessary dialogue and endless out-of-character snarking.

    Eh, he doesn’t really do this anymore. Well, okay, some, but he honestly has improved over the past few years. His Thor doesn’t sound like his Captain America who doesn’t sound like his Iron Man, etc.

    Yes, some characters (Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Thing) are basically quip-machines, but I don’t think that’s out-of-character for them. And Bendis’ Tony Stark talks a *lot*, but that’s clearly modeled after Robert Downey Jr’s portrayal.

    But Cap? Doesn’t quip. Thor? Doesn’t quip. Luke Cage? May or may not quip, depending on the situation.

    Besides, the dialogue’s never been his main problem on Avengers. It was the slow, aimless plotting.

  44. Dave says:

    Speaking as someone who’s mostly only read Bendis on Avengers, I think his dialogue is the worst in comics (Ever? Ever). As I wrote above, I could tell who was writing this month’s AvX in the first few pages (where it was mostly Cap talking).

  45. ZZZ says:


    I generally like Bendis, but the thing that makes his dialogue often ring false to me isn’t the quipping, it’s that he only has one “normal” speech patter. If he’s writing Thor or the Hulk or Dr. Doom, they’ll be fine, but anyone who’s supposed to be a “regular” person will speak the same way. Like this (From AvX 11):

    “I don’t know if you know – we’ve been at war with the X-Men over – no, we’ve been at war with SCOTT SUMMERS, Cyclops… They – HE has called a cosmic power called the Phoenix Force and we just CANNOT win the fight in front of us. We can’t win it.”

    It’s the repetition, the self-correction, the cadence; I’m almost certain it’s Bendis’s way of “writing the way people speak” in lieu of florid Claremontian purple prose and in small doses it’s fine, but when the guy’s writing multiple books each month with a dozen characters per book for years on end, it really starts to stand out. That’s one of the reasons everyone says he’s much better at solo books than team books (there are other reasons, but that’s a big one).

  46. wwk5d says:

    I ZZZ captured it perfectly.

  47. Niall says:

    The dialogue quips would be easier to forgive if it wasn’t for the fact that most of Bendis’ promising plots come to naught. I associate Bendis with the anti-climax.

  48. Two Bed Two Bath says:

    Nailed it, ZZZ.

    For me, Bendis just doesn’t have the hunger or fire-in-the-belly any longer. Go back and read something like AKA Goldfish, then compare it to the absolute soullessness of his Dark Avengers run, for example. Whatever spark he used to have, constant kowtowing and wheelbarrows of cash from Marvel have extinguished it, permanently I’m afraid.

    (But Niall’s right-on as well — as good as his earlier stuff was, endings have never been his strength, going all the way back to his first Sam & Twitch arc, at least.)

  49. kingderella says:

    ok this discussion is already a week old, but i just read the books, so heres some delayed random thoughts:

    i really liked uncanny x-men, and i LOVED the art. i used to rather dislike garneys art; i used to think its generic at best, and often quite ugly, with strangely distorted faces. but i havent seen any of his work in about a decade, and wow, its really improved. the inks may have a lot to do with it as well.

    the art on xforce was great as well. and the issue was very well written. it couldnt have been easy to write a satifying issue that almost entirely consists of philosophical discussions, with barely any plot, action, or character moments.

    i disagree that legacy was rushed. x-men in outer space (or other dimension) never really works for me, but this arc has been a pleasant diversion rather than a tedious trudge, precisely because it was so short. i just wish the dimensions of that conflict would have been defined better. paul seems to think its a ‘global conflict’, and the characters indeed talk about ‘the world’, but i think the story would have worked much better if it was about two warring city-states or so.

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