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Sep 20

X-Men Gold #36: “Feared and Hated”

Posted on Thursday, September 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men Gold, 2017-18.  It happened.

Marc Guggenheim’s 36-issue X-Men run was a self-consciously retro affair.  After years of the X-Men living on offshore islands or demon dimensions, or all the emphasis being on weird time-travelling splinter teams, here was a flagship X-Men title that was about the actual X-Men team, in the X-Men mansion, doing X-Men things.  It had been a while, and at least part of the gameplan here was to restate the basics – something a book needs now and again, to remind us of the theme in between the variations.

On that score, X-Men Gold was quite successful.  It did strike a back-to-basics tone, it did have a general X-Men-ness about it, and it did throw in enough new elements to avoid being a simple tribute act; it didn’t rely much on established villains, for example, preferring new characters, even if they largely worked within the standard themes; and everyone feels in character, in a traditional sort of way.  And relocating the team to New York City, rather than their vaguely-specified upstate hideaway, should have been an interesting opportunity to do something new with the human/mutant culture wars.

The trouble is that the series rarely seemed to bring out the potential in its new ideas.  The new Pyro is a perfectly fine character as far as he goes, but still feels bland in terms of personality; there’s something for future writers to work with, but it isn’t there yet.  Lydia Nance, as a 2018 culture-wars incarnation of the classic anti-mutant bigot villain, feels topical, but in practice she winds up doing tech-based genocide schemes that have little to do with the institute she ostensibly leads.  And the implications of the X-Men trying to live in mainstream society, in a very public place – or trying to maintain their seclusion despite their choice of location – pretty much get ignored.  Even the most sympathetic New Yorker might be a little aggrieved at the X-Men just usurping a corner of Central Park (agreement with the local authorities or not), but nope, we’re not going there.

Still, these ideas are largely still available for future writers to explore, and there are worse legacies for a book to leave behind.

For his final issue, Marc Guggenheim faces the problem of many departing writers: he wants a sense of closure but he isn’t actually in a position to wrap up any major storylines.  The solution is to go thematic: tie up a few subplots, and then finish on a credo.

So the start of the issue spends a couple of pages on Peter and Kitty, which are fine.  Then we get a Danger Room segment which tries to tie up Rachel’s arc, or at least draw a line under it.  Pere Pérez’s art, which is largely pleasing enough throughout the issue, is a bit patchy here; there are some fairly random panel shapes trying to liven up a blank room, and I’m really not sure what Rachel is doing swanning about in the sky when there’s nothing actually there for her to fight.  Still, Pérez does a solid job with the melodrama elsewhere in the issue.

This brings us to the actual plot of the issue, as the X-Men respond to a new teenage mutant in Port Washington, whose powers are out of control, and who’s wrecking his neighbourhood in panic.  Brian is a stock newly-emerged mutant – he’s a glowing energy thing, he’s panicked, he’s out of control, he thinks he’s a monster, you know the drill.  And again, that’s fine given that we’re restating the theme here.  From here we get a rather good scene, in which Kitty talks him down in a solid rendition of a typical X-Men inspirational speech – it’s going to be a new life but you can make it wonderful and we can help you take control, and all that.  So Brian calms down and turns back to normal, at which point a neighbour shoots him in the head.

I like this scene; it’s a decent execution of a familiar X-Men routine, and while the story is clearly not on the side of the neighbour, it can understand his point of view.  It’s by no means clear how far the guy has an issue with mutants, and how much he’s just panicked about seeing his home smashed up.  And that’s to the benefit of the scene.  Pérez paces the scene nicely, with the diagonal panels and the long-shot splash page of the aftermath.

We then decamp to the nearest hospital, where the doctor is reluctant to operate because the kid is hugely powerful and god knows what will happen.  This leads to a debate among the X-Men about whether to just force the doctor to operate, with Kitty deciding that they should, before another doctor shows up to make the point academic.

This doesn’t work quite as well, because the story is a bit too blatant in treating the first doctor’s professed concerns as mere excuses, and the replacement doctor compounds that by giving a decidedly heavy handed speech about how the X-Men’s hard work since issue #1 has won her round to seeing mutants as people.  Part of the strength of the mutant concept is that when you get on to characters with powers like this, people really do have sensible grounds for being afraid, and that complicates the set-up in potentially interesting ways.  It’s not like the guy refused to operate on Cypher.  But the story would have been better letting that uncertainty hang there.

The idea that Kitty is prepared to force the doctor’s hand is also an interesting one; I have no real problem with the idea that in the context of 2018, the X-Men could be getting more uncompromising in demanding their place in the world, instead of waiting for things to get better.  It seems like a tipping point that would be a natural development of the traditional mutant-as-minority metaphor in the context of 2018 – and in a more street-level way than the vaguely-formed “mutant revolution” stuff from the Bendis era.  But again, it’s a point that will have to wait for development under a future writer.

Still, this is a fair enough way for X-Men Gold to go out – a restatement of theme, in a series which was all about restating the theme.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    I really wish the issue would have ended with the injured mutant exploding everything, killing everyone in a miles around radius.
    Nobody would have ever foreseen that ending.

  2. Joseph S says:

    Agreed with Chris V.

    The first doctor had a perfectly valid point, and while perhaps the X-Men could have foreseen this possibility and had a place for Rachel or whoever to make sure th kid didn’t explode, they don’t try to reason with the doc who makes a perfectly reasonable case, instead more or less equating him with the shoot too late neighbor. And the second doctor’s rationale doesn’t address the very real possibility of the kid freaking out and killing everyone in the hospital.

    While I agree there are some good ideas in this series, almost none of them ever came to anything, and most of the storylines fall closer to forgettable to truly terrible. The Storm story was mediocre at best. Prestige was a horrible name with horrible costume, and failed to rekindle Rachel at her best. The “Prestige” character is pretty emblematic of Guggenheim’s shortcomings as a writer. He’s trying to look back and forward at the same time and very little character work of interest happens. Vance never really became anything other than an idea. And that negative zone story… Christ, talk about confused.

    Gold had some momentum as a serial in so far as it spread out its subplots to largely avoid more traditional arcs (clearly trying to emulate Claremont’s classic slow burns). But I can’t imagine anyone picking up these trades and reading these stories down the line.

    I guess that makes me ask, what X-Men stories from the 2010s do hold up as trades? For me, Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, PAD’s X-Factor and Madrox, Spurrier’s Legion Legacy run, maybe Bunn’s Magneto, Taylor’s Wolverine. Perhaps I’m forgetting something but there’s sure been a lot of dreck lately. I don’t know if it’s coming from on high or what but I feel like the x-line has really lacked a good editor for the longest time. Just look at how many fantastic books Wil Moss has edited in that same time period: Squirrel Girl, Howard the Duck, Silebr Surfer, She Hulk, Loki Agent of Asgard, Vision, Black Bolt, Black Panther, Thor. Hell, even Kot and Rudy’s Winter Soldier, which if nothing else was weird and looked beautiful.

  3. wwk5d says:

    36 issues of intersting ideas and set up but with disappointing and underwhelming execution.

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    The doctor’s reluctance and Kitty’s reaction sound like a nice enough couple of plots to develop. It might give Kitty a legitimate reason to doubt her own judgement, as well as to accept the risks nonetheless.

    I wish Leech or Rogue could become involved as well. We might face a situation where the physician would feel safe, but it turns out that the newly found mutant can’t safely be separated from his or her powers.

  5. Si says:

    The world needs more Leech.

  6. Loz says:

    I can generally accept that we are not in an era where anything particularly exciting will happen to disrupt whatever has been agreed is the status quo for a set of characters but here we have somewhere around £150 of comics in which nothing particularly interesting happens and this is how things are now. The presumed imminent return of the original X-Men to the past will mean no-one ever needs to read any of the Bendis X-Men comics. I’m not expecting writers in this day and age to be prepared to give decades of their lives like a Claremont or a David to enable a character to have some continuity but even in the extremely narrow and conservative constraints they exist in there needs to be some backdrop that the individual X-titles can be superimposed on rather than having even supposed flagship titles being written as though they are as inconsequential as a four issue miniseries that never gets referenced again.

  7. wwk5d says:

    “but here we have somewhere around £150 of comics in which nothing particularly interesting happens”

    This is why I read the stuff for free first on sites like [redacted] first, before making the decision to buy it or not.

  8. Paul says:

    I’ve deleted the name of the website mentioned above. Please don’t direct people to those sites.

  9. Brian says:

    Honestly, if you want to save money on Marvel books, the correct way is using Marvel Unlimited. The subscription fee covers reading the few titles that you actually care about, then you can go read others as a sort of rider — that how I read books like this (albeit a few months behind) when I otherwise never would.

  10. Chris V says:

    I’d say it’s all about Marvel’s policy of relaunching their line on a continual basis.
    No, there’s not going to be any consistency or continuity set up when after a year or two, Marvel is going to push another “big event” relaunch with a brand new #1 issue.

    The books can’t be read in the same way as us older fans are used to, where a series would run for hundreds of issues.
    A creative team won’t be kept around for a large run because the new relaunch has to feature something to set the new series apart, so creative teams will be changed at regular intervals.

    It probably does effect the way a writer comes to these titles also, as they realize they’ll only be around for a set number of issues, before the next relaunch.
    There’s only so much they can do with the characters, as the characters have to be ready for the next creative team to keep maintaining the status quo.

  11. Nu-D says:

    Eh, the best comics these days are standalone. Things like Planetary, Watchmen, Grant Morrisson’s Superman run, and even Whedon’s Astonishing, are the models to follow. A writer of an X-Men comic should be able to play with the toys for 24-36 issues and tell fun, interesting stories without being expected to change the status quo or advance some incoherent 45-year long continuity.

  12. Joseph S. says:

    I agree with Nu-D. It’s not necessarily about earth shattering consequence or continuity, it’s just good storytelling. I really enjoyed that Longshot mini from a few years back, for example, and that wasn’t about having a lasting impact or whatever but telling an actual story in the space allotted. I think the same more or less applies to Hawkeye, Silver Surfer, Superior Foes, etc. and more generally the benefit of image and boom
    And whatever titles, say Spurrier’s The Spire or Carey’s Highest House, or Brubaker & Philips Fade Out or whatever, have going for them is they can tell good standalone stories that hold up as serials and reward repeat reads in trade. Marvel has more or less let Aaron have Thor and Wilson have Ms Marvel and that’s great but I don’t think it’s about scale. Paul has often remarked that writers these days can’t seem to plot a proper 8 page story and I think that’s significant and right.

    And this maybe neither here nor there but I’d rather give my money to creator owned titles given the continued poor labor practices of the Big Two. I don’t think this is irrelevant but it has an impact on the overall creative health of the lines.

  13. Brian says:

    Nu-D, that you call those the best doesn’t make them necessarily so; for many, the serial nature of comics makes for the best stories (allowing the slow folding and unfolding of plot points and characters in a unique way that other sorts of fiction — except perhaps soap operas — can’t do). It’s telling that two of the examples you mention, Planetary and Watchmen, explicitly create an illusory published past by use of analogous characters, while All-Star Superman steps in and out of the broader Superman timeline(s) — including famously weaving in and out of DC One Million (in two different issues of each, the minis published more than a decade apart and completing the uncompleted stories of the other).

  14. wwk5d says:

    I’m not sure those are the best examples. Planetary for the most part did it’s own thing, and Watchmen was supposed to exist in a world of it’s own. ASS (love that) was supposed to exist outside of the regular continuity.

    With regards to Whedon’s Astonishing, it did end up changing the status quo somewhat, no? It was a 180 turn from Morrion’s status quo with the return of costumes, resurrecting Colossus, writing out Kitty in a somewhat more permanent way, etc.

    And there is nothing wrong with adhering to a 45-year long continuity while still telling an entertaining story. I’m not sure when it became an either/or choice.

  15. Kelvin Green says:

    The presumed imminent return of the original X-Men to the past will mean no-one ever needs to read any of the Bendis X-Men comics.

    Silver linings, and all that.

  16. Voord 99 says:

    Horses for courses?

    I think it’s perhaps significant that the most questionable example on Nu-D’s list of standalones is the Marvel X-Book. I think the sort of thing that Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman (and also, in the main books, his Batman run) represent is easier to do at DC, at least with the major characters – they’re more “iconic,” they have longer histories (meaning that continuity is on its face inevitably looser, but see below), and they lend themselves more to being reduced to ideal types of the superhero.

    That makes them especially suitable for stories that comment reflexively on superheroes as a genre. That’s what All-Star Superman is obviously doing, and (of course) it’s also what Watchmen and Planetary are doing.

    Marvel characters are less suitable for this, because going back to the Silver Age, there was the idea that they were more like real people. Now, it’s entirely fair to say that what ‘60s Marvel did was take a genre in which the characters’ personalities were one-dimensional and give them a second dimension, but not, you know, a third. But I think it’s also fair to say that the classic Marvel characters resist being reduced to types to a greater extent than DC characters – Peter Parker is more of a person than Clark Kent.

    Note: I’m talking broad strokes here. The contrast that I’m drawing is nowhere near 100% valid. There’s obviously a history of DC taking their characters and trying to remodel them along Marvel lines, for one thing.

    But, if one accepts that, relatively speaking Marvel characters are “supposed” to have more individual and complex personal identities, something follows from that. Part of being a person is having a unique personal history. It makes sense that it matters more what that history is as part of the reading experience.

    There’s a slight problem here, because Marvel’s history is simply too long. Try to make all the ups and downs of Matt Murdock’s career make sense as having happened to an actual working lawyer who’s still young enough to be physically capable of extreme acrobatics.

    In practice, I think we have long since settled into a situation in which what has happened is generally the origin, and a small set of defining runs, and the rest is vaguely counted as “sort of” having happened, to the extent that it is actively remembered by being referenced. Aside from that, it’s the very recent past that has “happened.” So for Daredevil, that’s the origin and Frank Miller’s stuff, and the current run.

    The X-Men are maybe an extreme case, because the appeal of their equivalent to Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, was largely in that he pushed the characterization a little bit further.

  17. Chris V says:

    Another point is that with Marvel’s abbreviated runs, the creators are stuck in a middle ground.
    Warren Ellis and Alan Moore could do whatever they wanted with Planetary or Watchmen.
    Grant Morriosn had a lot of leeway with All-Star Superman too, to tell exactly the story he wanted to tell, without being worried about excess baggage.

    With Marvel, the creators can’t do either what Chris Claremont did with X-Men anymore, or what Warren Ellis did with Planetary.
    They have to maintain the status quo for future stories. While, at the same time, their stories seem removed from any consistency or continuity.
    So, we get boring “by-the-numbers” short runs by creators who seem like they are doing “work-for-hire” projects.

    For all the talk about Guggenheim’s love and admiration for Claremont’s history on the title, there was a very “workmanlike” quality to almost the entire run, as if he were just going through the motions until the next big relaunch.

    Meanwhile, Morrison’s All-Star Superman was filled with admiration of the character and love of said character’s past.
    It simply flowed off the page.

  18. Joseph S says:

    Jason Aaron’s Thor and G Willow Wilson’s Ms America are two exceptions to the rule. Despite relaunches and Secret Wars and what have you, they’ve each been allowed to tell long serial stories set in the larger Marvel continuity, stories which are paved well for monthly reading but which hold up in re-reading. And they sell well and have been critically acclaimed. While I can think of instances of good standalone stories or series, it would be nice if Marvel gave their creators more time to and space to build a run.

    That said, I am not sure if the problem is all editorial. As Paul has pointed out several times, many writers do not know how to tell a story appropriate to the scale they are working on. We get decompressed 6 issue stories sure, but how many writers even know what to do with 8 pages in an antjology? Most months the recap page of Squirrel Girl is better than many entire books.

  19. ASV says:

    I think it’s a lot easier to do it with a solo series, or at least something that’s not spread across multiple books.

  20. Moo says:

    “I am not sure if the problem is all editorial. As Paul has pointed out several times, many writers do not know how to tell a story appropriate to the scale they are working on.”

    That’s entirely editorial’s fault. They do the hiring. They’re responsible for quality control.

  21. joe says:

    Personally- I loved Gold from start to finish. True, not everyhting about it was perfect, and none of the seperate arcs are what i’d call classics, but the run itself was a lot of fun. Not Earth Shattering or anything, but it was consistantly fun.
    You could tell that Guggenheim really loves the X-universe. He respects the X-men’s world and continuity. (he clearly has read a few of the X-books pubished since Whedon’s run, which is more than I could say for some recent X-writers *cough Cough* Soule *cough cough*) but he was never so tethered to the old stuff that he wouldn’t move move things in new directions.
    True the pacing wasn’t perfect, especilly after the wedding arc (If I had to guess i’d say that Guggenheim was told he would be vacating the book sooner than he planned and had to resolve a slew of subplots in just six issues) but when this book nailed it it really nailed it.

  22. Voord 99 says:

    There are other long recent runs, too. Dan Slott on Spider-Man. Bendis on the Avengers. I don’t think it’s something that Marvel editorial have a specific policy against.

    I wonder if the recent (post-Aaron/Bendis era) chopping and changing on the X-Men in particular relates to a sense that the X-Men *should* be bigger sellers, because there was such a long period when they were Marvel’s most popular books, and, let’s face it, part of that was a period when they would sell comparatively well despite containing an awful lot of stuff that was not very good at all.

  23. Joseph S says:

    Of course I meant Ms *Marvel* and I’ll chalk that up to autocorrect.

    Yes, Moo is right, editorial makes hiring decisions so of course it does come down to them in the end.

    And Voord makes a good point, that it is easier to maintain continuity and longer runs on solo books. Slott is a great example of that, and another acclaimed and well-selling run.

    It seems that the X-Men haven’t had an anchor, and the endless reboots seem to be waiting for a new direction to stick. So the question is has this nostalgic recentering given them a direction they can stick with that resonates with the core of the characters, and ground a line long enough to really build momentum? Or will the nextvrejsunch and absurdly titled Dissambled change the status quo yet again? (And really, the Avengers long time rallying cry is “Avengers Assemble,” so whether or not one enjoys Bendis’s take on Avengers, Dissassembled made perfect sense as a story concept and title. Wtf does it mean applied to the X-Men?)

  24. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Well, the X-Men rallying cry – or the thing closest to it – is ‘To me, my X-Men’, so by that naming logic the new story should be called ‘Away from me, my X-Men’. ‘Disassembled’ is a slightly better title.

    Speaking of titles, I wonder if the editors are angry at the X-Treme X-Men vol 2/Age of Apocalypse/one of the other X-Men series crossover ‘X-Termination’ from a few years ago, since its existence is probably the only reason they went with ‘Extermination’ for the current event. 🙂

  25. Voord 99 says:

    And Voord makes a good point, that it is easier to maintain continuity and longer runs on solo books.

    Nice as it would be to take credit for it, that was ASV, not me. (But I do agree with it.)

    Obviously, “Disassembled” applied to the X-Men is basically intended as intertextual reference to Avengers Disassembled and its partner storylines like Thor Disassembled (whose connection was purely thematic). It falls under the slightly bad current habit of treating these comparatively recent storylines as “classics” that can be used as touchstones.

    See also Civil War II, Pak’s return to Planet Hulk, and Inhumans vs. X-Men, although the first also had a dose of movie tie-in and the second was pretty worthwhile. (The third lacks any excuse.).

    I firmly expect a House of N (Namor, obviously) and a Kreekret Invasion (with you-know-who swapped in for the Skrulls.

    But maybe this is just me. I was amazed by how many people greeted the news of Disney’s acquisition of the Fox characters with, “Wow, this is great! They can make a film of Avengers vs. X-Men.” It was not something for which I personally had been longing…

  26. Si says:

    It was always thus. Back when I started big on reading Marvel in the mid 80s, everything was referencing the Death of Captain Marvel, the Dark Phoenix saga, that sort of thing. It seemed like ancient mythology at the time, but it had actually happened only a few years earlier.

  27. Voord 99 says:

    That’s a good point, but I do think the context has changed.

    Back then, there were still these strange creatures known as “new child readers” for whom events a few years earlier really were the distant past.

    Nowadays, Marvel comics are written for adults who can be expected to have an extensive knowledge of previous comics featuring the characters that they liked. And if they don’t know the background, it’s easily accessible in a way that it wasn’t back then.

  28. Col_Fury says:

    On a slightly related note…

    With Extermination currently underway, and the announced Dead Man Logan maxi-series coming out next year (do people still call 12-issues minis “maxi-series” or am I just getting older?), the return of regular Wolverine and regular Jean Grey, and Pylocke getting back in her original British body (that one was a shocker), it really does feel like Marvel’s trying to get the X-Men back to basics. Oh yeah, Xavier’s back and Emma Frost and Magneto are bad guys again. All without a line-wide reboot!

    All the “color” books are ending, Uncanny’s coming back and the aforementioned returns to various status quos, I dunno. Maybe there’s hope… 🙂

    Not that the past year or so has been bad; there’s a fair bit that I really enjoyed (X-Men: Red has been surprisingly good).

  29. Luis Dantas says:

    @Col_Fury: I thought X-Men: Red was continuing and also that X-Men: Black would debut. Am I mistaken about that?

  30. wwk5d says:

    I enjoyed X-men: Red too, and wasn’t expecting to either. Certainly found it better than either Gold or Blue. Along with Mr. & Mrs X (another title that pleasantly surprised me), it’s definitely one of the more enjoyable x-titles in the current line.

    The talk on the internet about who will be killed off in both Extermination and Disassembled is quite hilarious, considering Wolverine just returned from the dead and there is talk Cyclops might come back as well.

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    @Luis So far there’s been no mention of X-Men: Red ending (and really, it would be weird considering they’ve barely assembled a team). But the solicitations only cover the series up to #11 at this point, so word may still come that it will wrap up with #12.

    Which, again, would be weird… but if they really want to put attention on Uncanny, they might want to clear the board?

    X-Men Black is only a miniseries (or not even that, since it’s a collection of one-shots).

    Also, Astonishing X-Men is in a similar position to X-Men Red, in that nothing has been said yet.

  32. Col_Fury says:

    I haven’t read any of Mr. & Mrs. X yet, but I really enjoyed Rogue & Gambit. So ,you know, I’ll probably like M&MX (it’s by the same writer, right?).

    If I’m wrong about all the current X-books ending as a lead-in to the new Uncanny… oops! *embarrassed face*

    But, yeah. Black is a set of five one-shots (as I currently understand it).

  33. Brian says:

    This story title reminds me that I want to see one of the various “Wolverine sits in the bar drinking with Nightcrawler all issue” stories titled “Hated and Beered.”

  34. Chris V says:

    All the “return to form” recent events in X-Men are tied in with the whole Marvel: Legacy short-lived reboot idea.
    All the Marvel characters were, mostly, put back to basics, after Marvel had changed the characters so greatly with the “All New, All Different Marvel Universe” relaunch.
    Thor is back to being a male. Captain America is a white guy and not a fascist again. Tony Stark is back to being Iron Man. The Fantastic Four have returned. Etc.

    It’ll take a lot more than Betsy Braddock looking the same as her days in Captain Britain and Wolverine coming back to life to fix the problems of the X-line.
    Agreed that not everything has been bad, but simply putting characters back to their original format isn’t going to magically make X-Men read like Chris Claremont again.

  35. Chris V says:

    Col. Fury-X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue are definitely ending. Well, Gold already ended, and Blue will be finished with the next issue.

    I would assume that Astonishing X-Men will be gone also, since Rosenberg is one of the writers assigned to Uncanny X-Men, and I can’t see him writing two core X-titles at once. Although, I may be wrong.

    X-Men: Red is a big question mark for now, as Taylor isn’t one of the writers coming aboard Uncanny.
    However, neither is Guggenheim or Bunn, so it may just be that Taylor will be moving on to other projects, or leaving Marvel.

    You are correct about X-Men: Black. It is a series of five one-shots, which will probably serve as a mini-series.
    It is meant to fill in the gap between Gold and Blue ending, and before the relaunch of Uncanny X-Men.

  36. Col_Fury says:

    I can’t imagine that X-Men: Red would continue alongside no other “color” books. I mean:

    Uncanny X-Men
    X-Men
    X-Force
    X-Men: Red

    or whatever looks silly. Hopefully it will continue in some form (under a different name?) because I’m really digging it.

  37. Omar Karindu says:

    Agreed that not everything has been bad, but simply putting characters back to their original format isn’t going to magically make X-Men read like Chris Claremont again.

    Paul has pointed out that this isn’t a realistic goal for a host of reasons; the market today wouldn’t support something like Claremont’s extended run, for one thing, nor will publishers’ sales-chasing initiatives (which are not always aligned with the market).

    The X-Men in the 1970s and 1980s worked because they were both more rich in characterization and long-term plotting, and also halfway plugged into the counterculture of the period (with the usual publication-delay effect). This made them great for teen and young adult identification fantasies.

    The books don’t and won’t have a monopoly on characterization or even teen identification, and the efforts to return tot he surface aspects of Claremont’s run will actually take things in the direction of nostalgic comfort food for longtime readers. “Diminishing returns” has been the watchword.

    What does a book with serial storytelling and (broadly speaking) pseudo-counterculture aesthetics look like today? Since the X-characters are adolescent identification figures — other actual cool outcast teens (Kitty, Jubilee, etc.) or what cool outcast teens want the world to see them as (Storm, Wolverine, etc.), what does that look like circa 2018? Those seem like the questions that need answering.

    “Make it 1982 through 1992 again” is not a viable strategy.

  38. Chris V says:

    I was actually saying something along those lines. I was sort of saying, “You can never go home again”.
    While I don’t expect that there will ever be a time that the X-franchise is as creative or popular as during the Claremont run, I was saying that changing the surface so that everyone looks like they did in the 1980s won’t guarantee quality writing or interesting plots.

    Basically, putting Betsy Braddock back to what she looked like in 1983, or brining Scott back from the dead, aren’t the answers to solving any of the problems that long-time fans are finding with the current direction(s).

  39. Nemo says:

    Looking back, it’s really weird that Guggenheim introduced the idea that the X-Men owed eighteen million dollars in rent for occupying Central Park and then… never mention it again.

  40. Chris V says:

    I’m beginning to suspect that Guggenheim’s run was subversive. Not in the commonly accepted sense, but that the message was that the X-Men are privileged, rich, mainly white people who whine about being persecuted.
    Mutants became something of a caricature during this run.

    The doctor has a very real concern about the lives of countless patients.
    The X-Men refuse to even consider this guy might have real qualms, and not be, you know, a racist.
    They go so far as to threaten this man, without even attempting to communicate with him, to discover if he’s actually a bigot or not.

    The whole rent thing just goes along with this narrative.
    The X-Men decide to do whatever they choose. They put the mansion down in a popular public park, and dare anyone to get upset.
    If they get upset, why the mutants will just cry, “Hatred!”.
    They’ll get their way.
    Why would they have to end up actually paying?

    They are privileged, rich, beautiful people living in a grand mansion.
    All the “little people” are nothing except impediments to be trampled under their self-entitlement.

  41. Chris V says:

    You may point to Nance to disprove this theory.
    However, she is just another example of the self-absorption of mutants, living in their insular world.
    Look at her origin. It’s based in personal reasons.
    It has no bearing on our real world. She’s not driven by political machinations or ignorance.
    No. She’s driven by her own life, which involves mutants.
    She’d probably end up showing she had a real reason for her hatred too if we knew the intimate details of her childhood. Her mutant father was probably so narcissistic due to his privilege that Nance felt she had to act out as an adult just to get her father’s attention.

  42. @Chris V

    There’s something to that – particular given what’s happened in Red and Astonishing. Red is all about rejecting that isolation and getting politically engaged and building alliances beyond the normal X-Men world.

    Astonishing was about the misfits coming together temporarily. Dazzler is worried about rebuilding her career as a singer and gets dragged back into the world. Beast following on from the annual where he doesn’t really fit any more. Havok trying to be a hero again with a powerset that’s way too big and is destructive. And people deciding he’s not a leader (even though he led X-Factor for years).

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