Posted on Sunday, July 7, 2013
by Paul in x-axis
It’s the quietest week we’ve had in ages. In fact, I’m slightly surprised to learn it’s even possible to have such a quiet week given the volume of material the X-office puts out these days. This won’t take us long.
What If? AvX #1 – How’s this for the most optimistic solicitation of the year? “The biggest event of 2012 is now the biggest miniseries of 2013!” Come on, now. This isn’t even the most anticipated miniseries of the week. It’s a four-issue weekly mini with an alternate version of last year’s Avengers vs X-Men story, and honestly, the only reason I’m even mentioning it is because it’s so quiet otherwise.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Jorge Molina are your creative team, and this first issue is basically a retread of the opening act of AvX. It’s not a beat-for-beat recreation, but it’s essentially a cover version of the same story with only minor changes, up until the closing pages where – this being What If? – a major character gets killed. Up to that point it’s really just the same thing with a change of emphasis, such as a larger role for Magneto to cause the friction between the two groups. And it has to be said that using him in that role does make the conflict feel a bit less forced, though I get why the original story wanted to keep the story more on Cyclops. He had more to do in the mini, and it played into his overall character arc – which this book doesn’t necessarily have to worry about.
Judged purely as a freestanding issue, it’s okay. But then, it’s not a freestanding issue, it’s intended as a companion piece to AvX, and given that, it’s hell of a repetitive. The original What If? series usually avoided this sort of thing by just having the Watcher recap the original story in the opening two pages, and there’s a lot to be said for doing it that way. Admittedly, the original series also tended to feel ridiculously overcompressed, not least because its stories tended to feature the world ending in the remaining 18 pages or so. But what Palmiotti has written here is a perfectly reasonable first act repeating the set-up from scratch. That’s laudable if he’s aiming to make a story that’s completely accessible to new readers in its own right, but I wonder whether that’s really necessary where What If? is concerned. For 95% of readers, at most they needed their memory refreshed. It’ll read better in the trade, but as a single issue it feels weirdly redundant.
X-Men Legacy #13 – The minor-tier X-books really do love Pete Wisdom, don’t they? We’ve just had him guest starring in Gambit, and now here he is again in Legacy. David has shown up in London with some non-specific dodgy plan in mind, and Wisdom duly sets out to nip that one in the bud. David’s plan probably has something to do with the state visit of a bigoted Middle East ruler, but since he never actually says so outright, there’s room for speculation.
The oddity of this issue is that, for the first time that I can recall, the series completely drops David as its point of view character, and does everything from the standpoint of the guest star. The book has always played tricks with David’s narration, by having him turn out to have convoluted plans that he never actually mentioned to the reader, but now we’re completely shut out from knowing what he’s going to do, and seeing him entirely from the perspective of the other characters. And as best we can see, it’s obvious why you wouldn’t trust him; he’s presumptuous, unrepentantly manipulative when people won’t play ball with his scheme, and refuses to explain himself with anything more than a petulant wail that “You don’t understand.”
Meanwhile, the book goes on a veritable tour of UK-themed continuity with the characters David tries to rope in to help him. Considering that it has at best an ambivalent attitude towards the superhero genre, the book’s more than happy to play around in Marvel Universe minutiae. The likes of Pixie and Chamber and to be expected, and Lila Cheney at least used to be a major character, but Alchemy hasn’t been seen in about twenty years (as I recall, he was the winner of a “create-a-character” contest or something). And “very off the grid” is an understatement for Liam Connaughton, whose only previous appearance was in 2002’s Muties #6.
This being X-Men Legacy, it seems inevitable that there’ll be more here than meets the eye, and that David will actually turn out to have some complicated plan that depends on making people think this is what he’s up to. (Did all these characters really come all the way to the UK just to tell him to get lost?) Still, it’s a worthwhile break for the series to change its perspective and show him from the outside.