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Aug 11

Giant-Size X-Statix – “Hereditary-X”

Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, look who’s back.  This looked like a random one-shot when it appeared on the schedules, but it turns out to be the prologue issue for The X-Cellent, a 2020 series reuniting Peter Milligan, Michael and Laura Allred, and (some of) X-Statix.  The X-books are going in some odd directions again.  X-Statix wasn’t a perfect series by any means – the Princess Diana thing probably wouldn’t have worked even without the editorial problems – but its little corner of the line was always refreshingly bizarre.

It was also very much an irk-the-purists book, and that spirit seems alive.  Since X-Statix killed off most of its characters, this book opts for a next-generation approach.  So our main character here is U-Go Girl’s daughter Katie, who was introduced back in X-Force #119, and believed she was actually Edie’s younger sister.  She’s now grown up and ready to be the next version of the character.  But on top of that we’ve got Anarchist’s previously unmentioned teen son “The A” and Phat’s clone “Phatty”, along with a returning Orphan, Vivisector and Dead Girl.  Do not ask about how the timeline works.  Really, don’t.

If this had to be judged as a freestanding comic, it would be a bit unsatisfactory; it sets up more than it delivers. But of course it’s not a freestanding comic; it’s gathering the team for the upcoming book.  Which makes it rather hard to judge.

Katie, still believing herself to be Edie’s sister, is obsessed with X-Statix, now known to a new generation from their Netflix documentary.  Dead Girl shows up to arrange a visitation from Edie, who reveals the truth before vanishing back to the afterlife.  Meanwhile, the X-Cellent are also hunting Edie, and Dead Girl is trying to put the team back together in order to take them on – describing them as “a perversion of everything X-Statix stood for”, much to Orphan’s understandable bemusement.  Orphan is grudgingly prepared to come back, as is Vivisector, even though he’s worried about damaging his literary reputation.  Doop is hanging around too.  Beyond that, it’s the second generation taking the place of the dead leads.

The X-Cellent turn out to be the new team of Zeitgeist, the leader of the short-lived X-Force line-up that got killed in their first issue.  His new team is, he insists, “a team of evil dada shock troops for the culture war that lies ahead” – we’re firmly in the Doom Patrol tradition of weirdness here.  In many ways it’s a typically flippant and cynical X-Statix story, designed to reestablish the tone of the book and its undercutting of superhero tropes.  (“My mirror does not lie.  Well, it does occasionally, but in this instance it’s very honest.”)  The retro classic feel of the Allreds’ art is still a perfect fit for this, giving the book the sort of grounding in the superhero genre that the gimmick needs.  They’re not proper superheroes, they’re still concerned about their image as much as anything… but at the same time they kind of are proper superheroes, because they really are putting themselves at risk to fight the bad guys, for all their fame-chasing.  X-Statix was always to some extent about characters who weren’t really cut out for this having to fill the role anyway.

The new characters get remarkably little screen time here – presumably they’re going to get a lot more to do in the upcoming mini, since to all intents and purposes they’re largely copies here.  That’s clearly a conscious decision but a curious one, though it helps to play up the usual artificiality of X-Statix stories, and I guess in the long run it fits with the theme of characters trying to live up to the roles they’ve taken on.

In the wider picture, a mini involving the cynics of X-Statix taking on a maniac who thinks he’s fighting a culture war is… odd?  Zeitgeist is apparently meant to represent the spirit of the times in some way – hence the name – but I’m not sure I’d describe this is a particularly dadaist epoch.  That said, there’s something of interest in the idea of these characters from 15-20 years ago – not exactly the most edifying heroes of their era – being the ones who get to play one side in that culture war precisely because they are so trivial and compromised.  X-Statix’s ironic mild surrealism isn’t exactly the spirit of the times in 2019, but maybe that’s the point.

Bring on the comments

  1. Chris V says:

    Even though I read the issue, and remembered it as reading “Dada”, I thought you wrote, “a team of evil dads, shock troops for the culture war that lies ahead”.
    Which, you know, is sort of more in tune with the zeitgeist of these times….

  2. CJ says:

    “I’m very liberal-minded. I once dated a girl with a Coldplay tattoo.”

    Damn, I’ve missed X-Statix.

  3. Michael says:

    Yeah, this really doesn’t work if you stop to ask questions about the timeline and how it fits into actual continuity. Tike’s son, Phat’s daughter, Edie’s sist-daughter…

    And of course the handwaving explanation of how Zeitgeist, a guy who died in his first and only real appearance, is back and apparently living up to his codename. And the even-less handwaving-just-accept-it miraculous returns of Vivisector and Orphan, who seemed pretty dead at the end of the previous series.

    I guess we should just accept this as a Moiraboot, or maybe they came back when the universe was reconstructed after Secret Wars. *shrug*

    Weird stuff, man.

  4. Thom H. says:

    The best parts of any X-Force/X-Statix book for me are the amazing character designs and weird/useless powers that Allred/Milligan invent. The X-Cellent are especially good examples in this issue. Clearly not X-Men material.

    I also loved the cover full of former X-Force/X-Statix members. They really did kill a lot of team members in a short amount of time!

  5. Ben says:

    I was super into X-Statix back in the day, and it was fun to revisit the characters for an issue.

    The art was incredible as expected and there were some cute jokes and ideas.

    But I dunno, overall I think maybe my tastes have changed as I’ve gotten older.

  6. Luis Dantas says:

    I wonder if this take on Zeitsgeist in meant to connect into the politics of this day, what with the passionate narratives, unleashed fantasy and furious ad hominem making do in lieu of arguments. Come to think of it, a very dadaist time for politics.

  7. Zachary Q Adams says:

    I want to know whether Milligan wt al. totally forgot Katie grew up in Arkansas or if it’s deliberately “fuck it” to have her using such British English and eating cheese-and-pickle sandwiches. Pretty sure there’s like one store in Little Rock that would sell Branston Pickle…

  8. Chris V says:

    Luis-Surely the zeitgeist of these times would have more in common with Futurism rather than Dada.

  9. Dazzler says:

    I read the previous run. It was fine. The art was the main attraction. There was nothing especially clever or interesting, or even that subversive, in the writing. Wildly overrated by its admirers

  10. Luis Dantas says:

    @Chris V: It would? Why do you think so?

  11. Omar Karindu says:

    I think ChrisV is making a joke about the historical connections between Futurism and (especially Italian) Fascism.

  12. Chris V says:

    Yeah, pretty much.

    Plus, Futurism was an influence on the development of Dadaism.

    Yet, Dadaism rejected violence and nationalism.
    I don’t think that anything that rejects violence or nationalism can be considered as the zeitgeist of our current times.

    So, I’d say that Futurism is more apt than Dadaism.

  13. Luis Dantas says:

    Good points!

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