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Mar 30

All-New X-Men #19

Posted on Thursday, March 30, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

What to do, when you have an issue in which to wrap up your run and no real way of tying everything up?  Uncanny X-Men tried shoving everything aside and focussing solely on Psylocke and Magneto.  It didn’t really work.  All-New has a different approach.

This series has largely ignored the Terrigen stuff, but it’s more than happy to leverage the line-wide change of direction into its own sense of resolution.  The opening lines of dialogue will echo the sentiments of many readers:

“Just seems like the end of a thing, doesn’t it?  No more Terrigen death cloud.”

“No more Inhumans versus X-Men.”

“Thank God.”

Since the Airstream got destroyed, this issue finds the teen X-Men hanging around filling time while they wait for the new direction to start.  This basically means they hang out with Romeo and have a barbecue in a motel car park, which is precisely the sort of thing this book was about.  Bringing in Romeo at all is something of a show of good faith – see, he wasn’t just there to try and breathe some personal stakes into the crossover!  More to the point, by wheeling him out in the final issue and doing nothing whatsoever to write him out, there’s a clear signal being sent that we should expect him to stick around.

It’s not the only time the book does this.  The subplot of Hank’s tinkering with black magic is brought up, and even advanced – Jean learns a bit more about what he’s done to himself – but in no sense is it resolved.  These scenes only make sense on the footing that the storyline will continue when the book relaunches as X-Men Blue.  But neither of the creators on this book will be sticking around to tell those stories.  Dennis Hopeless is departing Marvel; Mark Bagley is off to work with Peter David on Scarlet Spider.  And that’s a shame, because they did good work here in sidelining the ill-advised big picture and re-establishing some much needed humanity and normalcy.  The X-Men are generally at their best when they at least interact with the real world.  [EDITED TO ADD: Hopeless is doing the upcoming Jean Grey solo series, which I’d forgotten about – but at any rate, he’s not involved in the relaunch of this series.]

At any rate, the effect of flagging up these continuing subplots is to make this more of a handover to the new creative team.  If they actually take up the baton then that’ll be welcome; the habit of treating every change of creative team as a ground zero has gone a bit far.  At the same time, by going out with an issue which is very much in their own style, Hopeless and Bagley get to take their bow.

So the Inhumans crossover is pressed into service to provide a sense of closure to this era of the book.  In related news, Cyclops is shown as reaching a turning point, because he now knows that he didn’t do the Terrible Things after all.  We’ve been through this before, but a big deal is made of it here, and it still doesn’t make sense.  For these scenes to work, you have to be willing to accept that Scott has been angst-ridden because he thought his older self had destroyed the Terrigen Cloud, which meant that he was going to grow up to be a baddie.   But now he knows that Big Scott had nothing to do with the Cloud; Emma Frost just made it look like he was responsible.  So, while the rest of the world still thinks the older Cyclops was a villain, now Scott knows the truth.

And let’s be clear that the story spends quite some time saying that Scott’s worries were entirely about the Terrigen Mists stuff, and entirely due to Emma’s trickery.  If you’re prepared to run with that, then the idea is clearly to draw a line under that and let Scott move on, even if he still has to deal with a ruined reputation and get his revenge on Emma.  Of course, it means buying into the idea that destroying the poison gas cloud was a bad thing, which is the party line, but has no comprehensible basis.  And it ignores the fact that the older Cyclops was giving plenty of cause for concern with his hyper-vague Mutant Revolution stuff even before the Inhumans came along.  That’s why the young X-Men were brought to the present in the first place.  I get that the idea is to let the character move on, but doing it this way involves some clumsy plot fudging.

To round off the issue, the story finally draws a line under the book’s big question: given how much the characters have changed, how can they possibly go home to the Silver Age?  This doesn’t really grow out of anything much that’s been happening in the book, aside from a throwaway line a few issues back where Hank said he’d already gone back in time.  But it tidies up some baggage and, again, helps add to a sense of resolution.

The answer is that in the past of the Marvel Universe, they never left.  They’re either from a different timeline entirely, or they’re divergent versions of the characters created when Hank brought them forward in time, but either way, they can’t simply go back in time because there’s no vacancy for them there.  If they even have a home timeline, it’s off to the side somewhere and they can’t find it.  It’s a bit of an anticlimax because it’s been obvious for a while now that the only other way to square the circle was by hitting the cosmic reset button.  And yes, it doesn’t exactly fit with scenes in the Bendis issues, but you can reconcile that – the timeline was screwed up for a while but has now resolved the paradox by creating this solution.

If we’re not going to send the characters back home any time soon, then having a permanent huge paradox hanging over them was doing them no favours.  Better to clear that aside and make them explicitly distinct versions of the characters.  And by tying up a major plot thread, it helps make this feel like a final issue.

I’m going to miss Hopeless and Bagley.  It’s been a patchy series at times, but it managed to swerve most of the big problems posed by the directions of the line.  It was trying for the right things, and it quite often connected.

Bring on the comments

  1. Won’t Hopeless be writing the new Jean Grey series? Lemire is the one leaving Marvel.

  2. Pat says:

    Actually, Hopeless is writing the upcoming Jean Grey series. Not sure the Beast subplot will be picked up there of all places but it’s good to see him on another X-book.

  3. David says:

    Are you sure about Dennis Hopeless leaving Marvel? He’s the announced writer for Jean Grey. Just ran a quick search and Google isn’t showing any changes to that. Honestly I hope he still is writing Jean Grey, I think he’s gonna do a good job on that book.

  4. Paul says:

    Ah, I’d forgotten the Jean Grey series. It doesn’t launch until later on so his name doesn’t appear in the April solicitations.

  5. Gary says:

    Hopeless is staying with Marvel. He’s writing the Jean Grey ongoing after this.

  6. ChrisV says:

    I was happy with the resolution of this series. Uncanny felt like just another issue. Extraordinary read like a writer trying far too hard, and making it look obvious.
    I felt this story nicely wrapped up most of the outstanding plot threads.

    This ending makes sense with the end of Secret Wars, where there was meant to only be one Marvel Universe, with a set past and one possible future.

    So, either the end of Secret Wars reset everything. Fixing the timeline and placing all the pieces back where they were when the Multiverse ended.
    Otherwise, this team was from an alternate Earth, and their reality was wiped out by the events of Secret Wars, so they have no world which to return.

  7. Brian says:

    The earlier Bendis stuff (e.g. Cyclops vanishing) might make sense if one combines the classic Gruenwald time travel rules with the more recent notion of Time As An Organism (and an injured one). If Hank had brought the O5 forward and then right back, they’d be fine, but too long gone means that the timeline is ‘healing’ the ‘cut’ left by their departure, ‘regrowing’ the missing events in it by replacing the O5 like a body healing a wounded part of itself. As such, to reinsert them into where they used to be would be as added figures (like the difference between resetting a complex fracture and jamming a sharpened bone into closed skin) in a changed/alternate line.

  8. JD says:

    The preview pages for X-Men Blue have a caption describing Hank as “Aspiring Mystic”, so at least this subplot of his is going to be kept going somewhat.

  9. Kenny says:

    “Dennis Hopeless is departing Marvel”

    I know All-New X-Men and Spider-Woman got cancelled, but isn’t he sticking around to launch Jean Grey’s new solo title and take over as writer of Doctor Strange?

  10. David Tarafa says:

    I’m not too sad about this series- it’s okay but it’s probably the weakest Dennis Hopeless comic I’ve read so far. Spider-woman’s the book I’ll miss. It’s been excellent.

  11. Brendan says:

    I’ve not been reading this book, but ‘aspiring mystic’ sounds like a great idea for Hank II. If the characters are serious about not becoming their ‘future’ selves, Hank studying magic instead of science is a great direction. It allows Hank II to be proactive and still make similar mistakes. Changing your occupation won’t change your personality flaws.

  12. Person of Con says:

    This may be just a personal reaction, but the revelation that they’re not really the past original team… or are an alt-universe team… or whatever pretty much removes any lingering interest I had in them as characters. The part of their characters I found interesting was that they were trying to escape their futures, and if that’s not an issue, then they don’t really appeal to me enough in and of themselves.

    I get that their value comes largely out of being familiar but also young and thus with the potential to appeal to a broader audience, but it’s going to be a hard sell to get me to care about them in future stories.

  13. Paul says:

    Depends what you mean by “not the original team”, though. It’s still entirely possible that the divergence point is a few issues into the Silver Age run, in which case they ARE the real X-Men, in the sense that the early issues form part of their history too.

  14. Chris V says:

    I think the appeal is to see if they can take a different route than their, uh…. forebears.
    The X-Men have grown so dark over the years, and faced so much trauma.
    It will be interesting to see the original X-Men going down a road where they try to avoid making those mistakes and becoming so gloomy.

    Yes, I would agree with Paul that they are the original team, but free of the burden of the X-Men’s past.
    If the ending of Secret Wars saw the Marvel Universe recreated in a way that fixed the flaws in the time-line, and the pieces were just put back together where they needed to be, then this is the original X-Men team.
    Since they were already in the present, the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe just put them back where they were, and recreated the time-line as it would have been to lead to that point in history, without any paradox leading to the time-line breaking again.

    I do wonder about the fact that the team came to the conclusion that they’re not the same characters as the past X-Men, so their future isn’t written in stone.
    However, Jean told Scott that if they continue their relationship, they know where that road will take them.
    That’s not true. Just because the relationship between Jean and Scott led to death and bitterness, it doesn’t mean that young Jean Grey will become the same character as dead Jean Grey.
    The team state that they realize they can make their own futures now, yet Jean still tells Scott that’s why they can’t continue starting a relationship.

    Why not, since they’re not the same characters, just state that this Jean isn’t attracted to Scott in that way?
    That would make more sense, than still clinging to the idea that somehow Scott and Jean dating will lead to a horrible ending.

  15. Si says:

    I quite enjoyed the series, and it tied up nicely. I’m not keen on Beast becoming a monster *again* and there being romantic tension between Scott and Jean *again*, but no doubt I’m in the minority there.

    I’m not sure if I’ll buy the new series or just read it on Marvel Unlimited. We’ll see.

  16. Voord 99 says:

    I think I sort of see Person of Con’s point (although obviously I may not have understood him/her, and s/he may want to correct me).

    There is a significant difference between (1) these being the original five in the sense that there was a point of divergence and that they are the same people and (2) the and them actually being those five in the sense that it’s possible that they might have their memories erased and go back and pick up from where they left off. In other words, it’s one thing for them to have the same past, another for them to have the possibility of having the same future.

    I remember that they’d already moved the story a good way away from (2) (I don’t remember the details, though), but I don’t know that they’d utterly closed off the possibility of it happening. And as long as there was still a chance of (2) being the case, one could argue that the psychological pressure and fear on the part of Scott, Jean, and co. was automatically going to be greater, and with it it the reader’s (or some readers’, anyway) investment in their plight.

    Now it’s very close to the fantasy of being shown all the mistakes that you’re going to make and being given a second chance – they can’t actually erase what their other selves did, but they can take their other selves as an example of what not to do. Which is a pretty uplifting and happy story, really.

    That doesn’t make it a bad story, of course. I’d quite like to see happy-go-lucky optimistic and positive original X-Men contrasted with the beaten-down Old/New X-Men, and maybe they’ll go that route. But it might not be to everyone’s taste.

    One thing that’s true of both of these stories is that pairing most of these guys with Laura and Evan was a decent idea.

  17. Person of Con says:

    I guess I’d rather see the X-Men ideology challenged by new teen characters, who have ties and family in the current Marvel world. But it’s been proven pretty consistently and repeatedly that that approach isn’t commercially viable.

    I do entirely agree that Laura’s and Evan’s presence in the cast has been beneficial. Although it’s kind of telling you forget Idie.

  18. Voord 99 says:

    Oh, I didn’t forget Idie. But she doesn’t match the theme in the way that the others do. She doesn’t have a weird/interesting relationship with an adult counterpart in the way that Laura, Evan, and the Originals do. I like Idie, though, and hope this isn’t the last we see of her.

    Agreed about the new teen characters – although I’d really like to see them just get more value out of the ones that they have introduced over the last 15 or so years.

    I did a Marvel Unlimited read based on starting with the De Filipino/Weir New Mutants and trying to follow that thread from title to title up to AvX, and there’s a lot to enjoy.

  19. Suzene says:

    “Agreed about the new teen characters – although I’d really like to see them just get more value out of the ones that they have introduced over the last 15 or so years.

    I did a Marvel Unlimited read based on starting with the De Filipino/Weir New Mutants and trying to follow that thread from title to title up to AvX, and there’s a lot to enjoy.”

    Very much agreed. I’ve said for some time now that the New Mutants/Academy X kids have been the generation of X-Men worst served by Xavier’s dream. I’d like to see some of them be the ones to buck things and be the ones to find their own path. The 05 I’m not much interested in unless they’re back in their own time working forward with the knowledge they have. Having them in the prime timeline as AU characters seems lower stakes to me than back when there were concerns about how badly they might mess up the timeline.

  20. Voord 99 says:

    That should, obviously be “*DeFilippis*/Weir” New Mutants. Accursed autocorrect.

  21. Person of Con says:

    Suzene: “The 05 I’m not much interested in unless they’re back in their own time working forward with the knowledge they have.”

    That’s a story I’d rather see too.

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