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May 22

X-Men: The Wedding Special

Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

What would a superhero wedding be without a skippable anthology one-shot?  Not that this lead-in to the wedding of Peter and Kitty is that bad, though it certainly features some very odd choices; but its very status as an ancillary set-up to a story in a fortnightly comic makes it completist fodder.

There are three stories here – a bachelor party for Peter and a hen night for Kitty, plus an opening story written by Chris Claremont.  “The Dream Before” is presumably here to provide the link with X-Men tradition, and to endorse the marriage as part of a long and storied history.  It’s very Claremont indeed, with narrative captions in quantities that would have seemed heavy even at his peak, but “very Claremont indeed” is precisely what the remit calls for.

There isn’t really a plot; it’s mainly Kitty reflecting on her history, going to a bar where she knows people, wavering a bit, and then committing to the idea that she should strike out and more forward in life by getting married.  A cynic might question whether marrying off Kitty and Peter really constitutes moving forward, but Claremont certainly appears to be knuckling down to sell the idea.

At the same time, about half the story is a recap of Kitty’s history from the eighties X-Men run.  Todd Nauck and Rachelle Rosenberg re-create this stuff rather well, and it’s got a certain charm as an old-school recap story.  It’s the sort of thing where characters actually bother to explain what a mutant is, because any comic, even this one, might conceivably be somebody’s first.  That said, what’s kind of striking about Claremont’s recap is that Peter is barely in it – he merits two panels, and one of those is a flashback to the break-up after Secret Wars.  It doesn’t exactly come across as if they’re destined to be together.

The second half of the story brings in some odder references, almost as if Claremont is trying to reference the backstory that Kitty would have had by this point, if only he’d continued writing her.  He may not have much to say about Peter, but Claremont would certain like to remind us of Alasdhair Kinross, her love interest from the 1999 miniseries X-Men: True Friends.  Then we get a trip to the Belles of Hell, a bar in Chicago where Kitty is supposed to be a beloved regular (despite the fact that she’s barely lived in Chicago since being old enough to drink).  This is an idea which Claremont tried to establish in 2002’s X-Men Unlimited #36 and which, as far as I can see, only ever cropped up again in the same year’s Mekanix miniseries.  It’s a weird idea to bring in, a concept from sixteen years ago that didn’t take – but then, it represented Claremont’s vision of how to age Kitty into adulthood, I guess.

Near the end, some ghosts show up out of nowhere to tell Kitty to embrace the scary step of marriage, although since one of them is Wolverine, I guess she’s just hallucinating for no reason.  It’s all quite odd – the text is cheerleading for the upcoming marriage, but the subtext seems to have very different ideas about what would make an interesting Kitty Pryde story.

“Boys’ Night Out” is the bachelor party, and it has the feel of editorial mandate.  It’s written by Marc Guggenheim, who’s the regular writer for X-Men Gold, and it’s got art by Greg Land in one of his less annoying efforts, so it’s not as if Marvel have roped in whoever’s passing.  But Guggenheim is already doing a bachelor party scene in X-Men Gold #26, so this comes across as an exercise in killing time to round out the issue’s “two parties” theme.  The plot – very vaguely – is that Peter, Kurt, Bobby, Remy and the new Pyro go to Vegas and get attacked by a demon who’s really annoyed about getting beaten up during Secret Empire, but they win, the end.

Quite why there’s now a casino in Las Vegas run by demons, and everyone is just fine with that, isn’t really explained.  It comes from the Damnation mini-event, which was the magical reset button that restored Las Vegas after Secret Empire.  The concept is actually pretty neat – I quite like the idea that the Marvel Universe Las Vegas would feature something as utterly absurd as that – but it feels like it needs a bit of set-up if you’re going to randomly bring it into an X-Men comic.  There’s a cute idea about the rampaging demon chafing at his new role in customer services, but it’s not a story.  And Kurt feels weirdly out of character here – I just don’t buy him being as enthusiastic about Vegas as he is here.  I think he’d be too conscious of the dark side of the place to find it fun.

Anyway, it’s a random fight plus some character marking time while they wait for their scene in X-Men Gold #26, and it’s pretty weak.

“Something Old”, by Kelly Thompson, Marika Cresta and Federico Blee, is Kitty’s hen night, and it’s the strongest of these three, but still with its problems.  Kitty gets dragged to something called “Stripperoke”, which is apparently karaoke with added strippers, and yes, it’s a real thing.  It certainly sounds stupid enough for somebody to suggest it for a hen night, though it doesn’t ring true for it to be Storm’s idea.  Still, there are some nice character beats here, the art is pretty (if a little awkward at times), and Rogue gets a little speech which doubles as an epilogue to her recent mini, encouraging Kitty to be happy with Peter while she can.

And then Callisto, of all people, shows up to yell at Kitty not to hurt Peter.  This feels a bit out of the blue; Callisto was in love with Colossus for a while, but that was during the post-Siege Perilous stuff in the late 80s, when she looked like a model and he was an amnesiac painter, and I can’t remember the last time anyone mentioned it.  So it feels a bit odd, to put it mildly, for Callisto to feel this strongly about it all of a sudden.  Perhaps this is one that works better if you don’t know the context and fill in the blanks for yourself, rather than being aware of how remote this piece of history is.

Overall, there’s at least some curiosity value here for the completists who pick it up, but it’s more of an oddity than anything else.

Bring on the comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Oh wow True Friends. Paul, I remember you writing reviews of that way back when.

    The bar storyline with Kitty was, if I remember correctly, part of that slow burn Claremont had to write Kitty back into the X-books after Scott Lobdell had written her out so comprehensively in early 2001. She had that cameo in the X-Treme X-men annual, the X-men Unlimited story and then Mekanix before Marvel finally let him put her back into one of the books as a regular.

  2. Evilgus says:

    It maddens me that everyone’s just slightly out of character. Storm suggesting stripperoke?! She’s too classy for that! Rogue maybe…

    And it annoys me when artists can’t even get basic character details right. Meggan has elfen ears and never wears shoes. Details folks!

  3. Evilgus says:

    Also I’d just like to say: I didn’t mind Mekanix. It had something to say about Kitty, gave Karma a bit of screen time, and was a nice change of pace for a superhero to be doing (mostly) real things or character driven things. Like grieving for her dad, or demonstrating that undercurrent of pent up aggression.

  4. jpw says:

    I think Callisto had some hallucinations about Peter back when she was injured during the Seagle/Kelly era, so I guess there’s kinda sorta a precedent of her still being in love with him…

  5. Si says:

    Well you know what they say. Once you go chrome, you never go home.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    Storm isn’t really very classy all the time. Particularly since her change back in Uncanny #170 or so. Having Callisto around sure reminds me of that. Is Yukio also a part of that history?

  7. Joseph says:

    Guggenheim is really beginning to grate me. His Gambit has an Irish accent now? Come on!

  8. mark coale says:

    I was expecting a harsher review, as I thought this was pretty poor.

  9. Mikey says:

    The most egregious part of this issue is J. Scott Campbell’s ugly cover.

  10. Thom H. says:

    Also, can we put a moratorium on covers where Kitty is phasing through Peter? WE GET IT.

  11. Anya says:

    Lol, that has been a common theme.

  12. This whole wedding feels like Marc Guggenheim decided to take some time out from failing to emulate Chris Claremont in favour of failing (and thus, quite adequately managing) to emulate Chuck Austen – who in turn, as we all know, was an alias for Chris Claremont when adapting in serialized comic book form the script of the alternate reality blockbuster “Deadpool 1.5: Roseanne’s Revenge”, as written by a post-feminist Rob Liefeld and directed by a post-everything Paul Verhoeven.

    (Hmm, there was a joke in there somewhere, but I think it’s out of continuity.)

  13. Person of Con says:

    I dunno; if Kurt can compartmentalize Errol Flynn’s movie persona from real life Errol Flynn, belligerent alcoholic who faced multiple underage sexual harassment charges–well, ignoring the darker side of Vegas doesn’t seem like such a stretch.

  14. Joseph says:

    No one else is bothered by Gambit repeatedly saying boyo?

  15. Voord 99 says:

    As I recently learned from reading along with Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men, in Marvel New Orleans “guild” is just a slang term for “family.”

    So maybe “boyo” is a completely authentic reflection of Gambit’s native dialect, one that writers have shamefully neglected for almost thirty years. “Ain’t nothin’ more important than guild, boyo.”

    It makes him sound like a Welsh or Irish stereotype, but actually it’s related to French bois and praises the addressee as being a skilled woodsman. Goes back to Acadia.

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