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.”
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.