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Feb 7

All-New X-Men #17-18: Inhumans vs X-Men

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

The crossover is upon us.  All-New X-Men has two issues tying in to Inhumans vs X-Men, a crossover which is welcome only in the sense that it might finally draw a line under a direction that didn’t work at all.  It’s not the sort of thing that All-New X-Men, a book about teenagers on an endless road trip in a magic bus, particularly lends itself to.

But the biggest problems here stem, not surprisingly, from the fact that Inhumans vs X-Men itself is just a dud premise.  I’ve been through this before, but let’s recap briefly.  The story is driven by the Terrigen clouds which are floating around the world empowering latent Inhumans and killing mutants.  The X-Men, having bent over backwards to try to find some other way of solving the problem, have now exhausted their options and are getting rid of the cloud.  This, apparently, is supposed to be some sort of moral dilemma.

And it simply isn’t.  It isn’t even a dilemma in the prologue miniseries where Cyclops – or rather, an illusion of Cyclops created by Emma Frost for publicity purposes – destroys one of the two clouds, because it’s a poison gas cloud, for god’s sake.  The X-Men are obviously right.  The Inhumans are obviously wrong.  And the story bends over backwards dementedly trying to convince us that both sides have a point.  It’s totally ridiculous, and it means that every story that touches it is kneecapped before panel 1.

All-New X-Men‘s tie-ins consist of two spotlight issues which are perfectly fine in terms of what they bring to the table, but are stuck working with a dud idea.  Incidentally, the decision to go with two more solo issues is a curious one.  It fits nicely with Marvel’s current crossover format, where one book does the real plot and everyone else does something in the margins.  But All-New X-Men has only just completed a string of solo issues, and it feels like the team element is getting sidelined a bit.

Issue #17 is an Iceman story, picking up the obvious dilemma which was set up a few issues ago: Iceman has divided loyalties because his boyfriend Romeo is an Inhuman.  Of course, the story desperately wants us to accept that young Iceman is appalled by the X-Men’s plan because they’re going to “destroy the cornerstone of the Inhuman society”, which I guess is just about a defensible position if he’s supposed to have doubts about whether it really is going to kill all the mutants.

So anyway, Iceman joins in the big attack on Attilan and then goes his own way and rescues Romeo, and that’s basically your issue.  To the book’s credit, it rounds things out with some decently observed flashback sequences which do a respectable job of selling a relationship with a character who was only just introduced, and if you’re prepared to run with the idea that there’s some sort of dilemma in play here (which is an act of tremendous generosity, but the book implores you to play along), it just about gets away with it.  The relationship really needed a longer build-up to give it the weight it needs – and Romeo remains a bit of a cute cipher with an overly obvious name – but Hopeless and Bagley do enough to sell the idea that Bobby cares, which is enough to get by.

Issue #18 is a Cyclops story.  And here we hit bigger problems, because pretty much the whole issue hinges on you accepting the idea that the older Cyclops’s supposed destruction of the first Terrigen cloud was an act of unfathomable monstrous villainy, a concept which – have I mentioned this? – has singularly failed to get off the ground.  Now, if you’re willing to buy that starting point, there’s a set-up to work with here, because young Scott’s direction is largely about trying to escape from the shadow of what the older Scott did, and here he’s being specifically confronted with the Inhumans themselves.

But that is one hell of an If, despite the book’s strenuous efforts to convince us otherwise.  “The world sees Scott Summers as a hate criminal who committed pre-emptive Inhuman genocide”, apparently, but this is blithering nonsense.  This book is trying so hard to make this work – it’s the centrepiece of an entire take on a central character – but the foundations are just not there.  The pay-off of this issue is Scott learning that Emma tricked everyone and that his older self never actually destroyed the first cloud after all.  In theory that should be a really strong moment as Scott learns that he never committed the terrible crime which has been dominating his thoughts for so long – and his relief and anger at Emma do kind of work – but it can’t transcend the basic defects in the whole premise.

These two issues actually come quite close to working, purely on the strength of the emotional reactions of the main characters.  If they’d had a viable central plot to play off, they’d probably have been good.  But I don’t think anyone can make the Inhumans / X-Men stuff work at this point.  Let’s just get it over with and move on.

Bring on the comments

  1. Keith says:

    I’m a bit sad that Hopeless isn’t being given one of the x-books post relaunch. Much like with Avengers Arena, his run on this series took a pretty awful premise, and, mostly through strong character work, managed to make it an enjoyable read. Hope Marvel finds a book for him.

  2. Riccardo says:

    Nice article.
    the problem would have been solved easily just by having the cloud make the mutants humans and depowering them.

    It would have made a good contrast with the powering the Inhumans get and you still could see old Cyclops trying to destroy it.

  3. Suzene says:

    Let’s not forget that the Mists also kill off some latent Inhumans, a fact that the royal family hasn’t bothered to tell anyone. IIRC, this includes Inferno, one of their new recruits whose mother died undergoing terrigenesis. EmmaClops accidentally got that part half-right when she claimed the cloud was also going to kill off humans.

    It’s not just that IvX isn’t a viable storyline, it’s come right up to the point of making the Inhumans irredeemable as heroes.

  4. David White says:

    But the Inhumans (as a group) have always been problematic heroes.

    They have a rigid caste system that devalues people with powers they don’t think are useful.

    They either treat one of their own royal family like a dog, or think it’s hilarious to make others believe that they do.

    The general Inhuman population is so apathetic they don’t seem to care whether Black Bolt or Maximus is in charge, probably because they all suck.

    They have a genetically engineered slave caste, only decided to manumit them well into the 20th century, and only at the point of gun, and their idea was to let the slaves do the same work they’d always done and just stop breeding them.

    For years they’ve deliberately chosen to ignore their own terrible flaws while lecturing humans about everything they’re doing wrong.

    Basically, they’ve always been awful as a group. All they really have going for them are some nice Kirby designs.

  5. The weird thing is, the world probably should see Cyclops as a terrorist, on account of that time he was possessed by the Phoenix and took over the world. But to say that it’s specifically the Inhumans thing that broke the camel’s back strains credulity.

    I think I may have said this before, but the Inhumans would have had a much better leg to stand on ethically if Black Bolt was held as a dangerous loose cannon terrorist who unilaterally set the cloud in motion rather than a still semi-respectable leader figure. And it would have made him an interesting Cyclops foil to boot.

  6. wwk5d says:

    “Iceman has divided loyalties because his boyfriend Rome”

    Well, that was as subtle as a shovel to the face.

  7. Zoomy says:

    Considering all the things all these characters have done in the past, “Cyclops destroyed the other cloud, showing no respect at all for Inhuman cultural sensitivity!” is kind of weak, isn’t it?

  8. ChrisV says:

    At least Marvel seems to have taken an about-face and realized how stupid this premise was in the new issue of I vs. X.
    “Wait a second! A genocide of all mutants? That doesn’t sound good!”.
    The fact that certain mutants were more concerned with cultural sensitivity than an actual looming genocide will remain irredeemable, however.

  9. Si says:

    ““Iceman has divided loyalties because his boyfriend Rome”

    Well, that was as subtle as a shovel to the face.”

    Yes but it works because everyone keeps highlighting how unsubtle it is, and then the story itself neatly does a right angle to every possible obvious storyline.

  10. Si says:

    I’d like to make a comic, Inhumanity vs X-Men. Page 1:
    “Those evil X-Men are trying to destroy our holy giant mustard gas cloud!”

  11. I’m enjoying IvX because the X-Men are finally giving the Inhumans the kicking they deserve. When Black Bolt unleashed his usually lethal powers at Frost and someone he didn’t know at all, the Inhumans went straight into the villains category (where they should have been when BB “killed” Cyclops in the awful miniseries). It’s clear from the comics coming out of this who wins and they actually look good. The sooner Limbo is gone, the better.

  12. Matt C. says:


    Hopeless is writing the new Jean Gray book as part of the “ResurrXion” relaunch.

  13. Chris V says:

    I’m sure there isn’t going to be any actual “winners or losers” coming out of this, and the Inhumans won’t be treated as villains.
    I’m sure it will end with a “this fighting was all a mistake, let’s learn to live together” finish.
    The Inhumans will do the right thing, and preserve being heroic.

    I am looking forward to the aftermath of all of this though, as it looks like the X-titles will be getting a lot better, and Inhumans looks like it’s going to be an actually interesting book, with Al Ewing writing it.

  14. Chris says:

    Lockjaw IS a dog

  15. Niall says:

    XvI: Aftermath should be a bunch of mutants either saying “sorry” to Scott’s tombstone or “Thank you” to Emma.

  16. Chris V says:

    After the events of I vs. X, mutants are more hated than ever!
    Humans have turned against mutants more than at any point due to their embracing the evil Cyclops as some sort of saviour.
    Many humans polled said that had the mutants allowed the Inhumans’ genocide to proceed, they would have a much more favourable impression of mutants today.
    If only this could have been the case for human and mutant relations, as humans have never hated mutants this badly!

    Hopefully, this won’t be what we see in the upcoming relaunch…

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