RSS Feed
Oct 10

Powers of X #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition. This is the final issue of Powers of X, and an actual review of both series will follow later.

COVER (PAGE 1): Moira standing over a pile of dead mutants on Krakoa. This includes characters from the “Year 100” timeline, so it’s evidently symbolic. The flowers resemble cherry blossom, traditionally a symbol of life’s ephemeral nature.

PAGE 2: The epigraph quotes Professor X: “And now we build.”

PAGE 3: The credits. The title is “House of X”; the small print reads “When they learn the truth.”

PAGES 4-10: “Year One”. This is an outright repeat of the opening scene from issue #1, where Xavier meets Moira at the fair and she lets him read her mind. There’s an additional opening page of Xavier walking through the forest on his way to the fair. Repeated here, the dialogue can be read as fair representing Krakoa’s apparent new dawn for mutants, seen as both a distraction and something that’s being embraced despite a nagging awareness that all is not well. (“So, are you enjoying the fair?” “I am. It seems like the kind of thing I should not enjoy, and yet…”) That, of course, could apply both to the mutants and to the readers.

PAGES 11-23: Breaking with the usual format of advancing through time over the course of an issue, we jump directly to the “Year 1000”. This is the information that Xavier picks up from Moira’s mind at the fair, so it’s effectively a flashback interposed in the Year One segment.

The Year 1000 sequences have always been bannered as “The X-Men, Year One Thousand”, and now we see why: the “Preserve” which we saw in issue #1 is in fact a Preserve for mutants, specifically Wolverine and Moira, who have been futilely working on a rebellion scheme all this time. The Librarian reveals that the world will end tomorrow when the post-human race is assimilated into the Phalanx. He’s considering whether to send Moira off world so as to prevent her death from rebooting history, or to kill her so that she can go back and alter the course of history. Before he gets to make his decision, the Librarian is killed by Wolverine, who then kills Moira in turn, ending what turns out to have been her sixth life.

The Preserve: We saw this place briefly in issue #1, when Moira and Wolverine were indeed seen briefly in shadow. They appeared to be naked in that issue, but perhaps that was just the lighting – they’re fully clothed here. In issue #1, the Librarian seemed to be suggesting that the Preserve was a remnant of the human race, but he actually said that its purpose was “to keep a record of the great sins of history … to preserve a remnant, something to point at, and hope to God they never have dominion again.” Apparently there was a period in this timeline where the mutants dominated – or, perhaps, being posthuman, the Librarian just lumps mutants and regular humans in together.

The inhabitants of the Preserve, other than Wolverine and Moira, appear to be mutants, but they don’t speak, and the Librarian treats them like farm animals. He doesn’t regard them as imprisoned, but rather seems to think the concept is inapplicable since they’re in their natural environment. Logan gives the expected inspirational speech about the inevitability of revolution – and appears to believe it – but of course he’s wrong. This is the end of the world, and no revolution came.

Logan and Moira’s age: Logan and Moira both seem relatively young, so something must be suppressing their ageing. Logan ages slowly, but he does get visibly older within a few decades, as seen in Old Man Logan. And Moira’s first life ended when she died of old age, according to House of X #2. Quite what’s going on here isn’t clearly explained, but the Librarian refers to them “hav[ing] the same blood type” and “depending on one another to survive” over a millennium.

The reboot: The Librarian is the first character to directly address the question of what happens to the previous timeline when Moira dies, sending her mind back in time to start a new life with the knowledge of the one before. The Librarian clearly believes that the process doesn’t just create a new timeline, but “annihilate[s]” the existing one. Moira seems to think the same thing later in the issue. This raises an awkward question of how anything she does can have meaning, and how she would be able to lock a desirable timeline in place if she finally found one (perhaps by killing herself in a way that was somehow permanent – and Destiny told us in House of X #2 that this can be done).

The Librarian plans to avoid this endless cycle of reboots by sending Moira off world before the Phalanx can kill her. Moreover, he believes that as long as Moira remains alive, posthumanity can break the cycle by being assimilated by a Dominion (and the first step towards that is being assimilated by the Phalanx). A Dominion transcends space and time, so if posthumanity can get to that level before Moira dies and reboots the universe, it will be unaffected by the reboot. On the other hand, the Librarian is not entirely convinced that being copied into the Phalanx while his physical body is destroyed really counts as surviving – indirectly querying the legitimacy of the revived mutants over in House of X. So he’s open to persuasion that killing Moira and giving her a chance to alter history might be the better way to go. Unfortunately, from the Librarian’s perspective, Moira has no useful ideas about how to do that.

Posthumanity: According to the Librarian, Moira and the X-Men in general have missed a crucial point. Though mutants are indeed the inevitable next step in evolution, there comes a point of technological advancement where evolution just doesn’t matter any more, because the control over the body offered by science is far more profound and useful. So the robots hold the mutants at bay for a bit, and then humanity ascends to machine-blended posthumanity, and the mutants are just a footnote. (The Librarian seems to imply that the robots are indeed unleashed by humanity rather than just arising spontaneously, since otherwise it’s not clear why the mutants don’t get to join in the posthuman ascension.)

Moira’s sixth life: This timeline, it turns out, is Moira’s mystery sixth life, which was skipped over in House of X #2. This revelation from the Librarian is what spurs Moira into a series of anti-machine schemes over her following lives. When we first saw this timeline, in issue #1, it appeared to be a continuation of the Year 100 timeline – complete with poor Cylobel still floating in the containment tank where Nimrod put her. But we now know that the Year 100 timeline is Moira’s ninth life, so apparently these similarities are more of an indication of how little impact Moira has really had on the course of history in the long run.

Moira’s voluntary death at the hands of Wolverine mirrors the end of her ninth life, in issue #3, where he also killed her so that she could go back and try again. This is presumably why Moira said “this is what you do” as her last words in that issue.

PAGE 24: A data page on the branching of humanity and the reasons why post-humanity – homo novissima – overtakes both humans and mutants. It’s all fairly self explanatory. The Krakoan letters are M for mutant, H for human, and PH for posthuman.

PAGES 25-29: A continuation of the fair scene. Xavier is horrified by what he sees in Moira’s mind, and reluctant to accept that the mutants always lose. Moira insists that this time round she’s going to make sure that they’re all together. At the same time, though, Moira makes clear that Xavier never changed in any of the worlds where she met him, and that she expects both him and Magneto to resist her plans – which raises the question of how successful she really has been at changing him, a theme that continues into the text pages that follow.. Still, they walk off into the sunset together.

PAGES 30-32: Text pages, headed “Moira’s journal.” For some reason entries 12 and 35 are blacked out, even though we only get entries 5, 12, 14, 17, 22, 29, 35, 48, 52 and 57 in the first place. These cover a wide span of X-Men history, so evidently Moira isn’t diarising very regularly.

Entry 5. Moira says that she recruited Xavier to her cause after allowing him to read her mind, though it’s taken months and he remains unacceptably hopeful, idealistic and generally Xavier-like. She’s reluctant to let him read her mind again, and notes that he’s dependent on her interpretation of past-life events, but seems to be planning to tell him the truth – since she knows he’ll end up reading her again at some point. Still, there’s a strong hint here that she’s spinning the history.

Entry 12. Redacted.

Entry 14. Moira writes about having become romantic with Charles Xavier (as established in Xavier’s back story under Chris Claremont) and worries about fracturing his psyche and breaking him. It’s not clear if she’s concerned about a break-up, or about the consequences of them being together. Her concern that fracturing his psyche will “eventually unleash something unexpected on the world” may refer to Onslaught, the psychic creature which was meant to be in part the dark side of Xavier’s personality.

Entry 17. Xavier has “stopped trying to fight me on what humanity is”, which is not quite the same thing as him actually agreeing with Moira – it could easily mean he’s stopped arguing with her and started treating her as a resource. Xavier has had an idea of several mutants working in tandem, with one of them needing reality-manipulating powers. This obviously refers to the Five, the mutants who create the new clone bodies on Krakoa, and specifically the reality-warper Proteus – who is Moira’s son.

Moira says that she has found potential matches for both Charles and herself to produce such a mutant. The implication seems to be that Moira married Joe MacTaggert in this timeline (and only this timeline) because he was thought to be likely to father a reality-warping mutant with her. The suggestion that Moira also found a potential match for Charles may imply that his relationship with Gabrielle Haller was also instigated by this agenda, leading to the birth of Xavier’s son Legion. Legion and Proteus have in common the traits of being vastly powerful and hugely unstable.

Entry 22. Charles and Moira recruit Magneto, and Moira gets the idea of a mutant stronghold into this mind (which she sees as a good development). We saw this scene in issue #2.

Entry 29. “Apocalypse has made himself known to the world.” Apocalypse debuted in a cameo in X-Factor #5 (1986), and had his first fight against X-Factor in the following issue. Note that this comes before later entries which were pinned in earlier issues as “Year One.” This seems to confirm that Hickman is using “Year One” figuratively to mean anything from the past.

Moira describes this rather ranty, evolution-obsessed version of Apocalypse as being in a “raw, primal state”, and is particularly concerned about “the prevention of certain Omega-level mutants falling under his sway” – it’s not immediately clear who she has in mind.

Entry 35. Redacted.

Entry 48. Moira describes Xavier and Magneto’s approach to Mr Sinister, as seen in issue #4. Xavier and Magneto are acting without Moira’s approval and she’s not happy about it. Moira seems to see this as Xavier getting carried away, but there’s a definite implication that Moira has less control over Xavier and Magneto than she’d like to think, and that maybe they’re not being manipulated as much as her diary tries to suggest. Moira laments Xavier’s foolish belief that he can shape the world to his liking; either she’s being ironic, or her lack of self-awareness is remarkable..

Moira says that Sinister has produced his first chimera decades early, in the form of the mutant-gene version of Sinister himself. This refers to the mutants that Sinister was cloning in Moira’s ninth life (and perhaps others). Note that this version of Sinister already existed before Xavier and Magneto showed up, so something else has happened to alter the course of Sinister’s history – though admittedly, the overall history of the world differs massively between Moira’s ninth and tenth lives.

Entry 52. A cryptic reference to the split with Magneto, previously mentioned in House of X #2.

Entry 57. Moira explains that she’s been too active (as a supporting character in the X-Men, presumably) and needs to go back to the shadows to pursue her plan. To that end, she has decided to fake her own death using “a Shi’ar golem – a living husk” to test their theory that a mutant could be restored from back-up in the way that’s now being done on Krakoa. Where the Shi’ar fit into this isn’t immediately clear, but they keep getting namedropped throughout Hickman’s run. Note that what Moira is describing here seems to be very close to the clone mutants being created on Krakoa; if Moira considers them to be “golems” then that’s rather at odds with all the ceremonial stuff about how they’re definitely, definitely the real deal.

All of this still fits very oddly with Xavier’s thoughts in the stories where Moira died – perhaps this was one of the occasions when he restored his mind from back-up, to remove his knowledge of the plan.

PAGES 33-36: “Yesterday” – a rare example of a time frame not expressed in powers of ten. Magneto and Professor X visit Moira in her No-Space and talk about the upcoming meeting of the Quiet Council. (We saw that first meeting in House of X #6. While this issue is structured so that this scene appears to go directly into the firework display, in fact that display follows from the Council meeting, as we saw in House #6.)

This scene gives some further explanation about the make-up of the Quiet Council. The “Red King” space is vacant because Emma hasn’t nominated one yet; the “winter” group has “all” the “problem mutants” (which implies that Magneto doesn’t consider Apocalypse to be one); and the Hellfire faction are assumed to be controllable because Emma is loyal.

Mystique. Mystique would only agree to join if they promised to bring back her lover Destiny. This is going to be a problem. It’s very, very important to Moira that nobody on Krakoa should have the power to see the future. She seems to have two reasons for this – first, a precog could sense her in the same way that Destiny did in House of X #2; and second, a precog would apparently learn something which is being kept secret from the Krakoans. It’s possible, though, that Moira is merely anticipating the inevitable failure of Krakoa rather than having anything more concrete in mind – Xavier and Magneto seem a lot more confident than her that Krakoa could work. There’s a sense here that Moira sees Krakoa as a means to some unspecified end, while Magneto and Xavier want to make it work if they can.

Not explained here is why it was so important to get Mystique on side in the first place – clearly there’s a plot there. At any rate, the plan is to string Mystique along. The fact that they think they can get away with that might suggest that they don’t see this lasting all that long. On the other hand, since the stated plan is to revive everyone, you’d have thought Mystique must have been stipulating for a high place in the queue.

Destiny died way back in the 80s, so Xavier’s been keeping his backups for quite some time.

PAGES 37-41. A repeat of the celebration from the end of House of X #6, though with different voice over captions. This time, either Magneto or Xavier (it’s impossible to tell which) tell Moira that she’s built something wonderful and important in Krakoa but that it’s time to step aside now. There’s also a new coda in which Magneto states his determination to protect Krakoa, and Xavier is more quietly determined.

PAGE 42. The closing quote is Magneto: “I am not ashamed of what I am.” It’s from the previous scene, which strikes more of a defiant tone than the celebratory one we saw in House of X version. And that’s it – that’s the set up for the X-Men going forward.

PAGES 43-50. The “reading order” page and the trailers. (And the Stan Lee page). The reading order page now lists the first issues of the Dawn of X titles: X-Men #1, Marauders #1, Excalibur #1, X-Force #1, New Mutants #1 and Fallen Angels #1. Note the small print, which refers to “Dawn of X 19” and “Arakko 20”, perhaps suggesting that Krakoa’s estranged sister island will be coming to the fore next year. The Krakoan text on each page simply reads “NEXT” followed by the name of the title.

Bring on the comments

  1. FUBAR007 says:

    wwk5d: Yes, you’re going to have to accept all of Hikcman’s retcons and squint at the history of it side-eeyed to make it work, but it is what it is. Just go with it, try and enjoy the ride, and if it doesn’t work out, Marvel will just reboot it all anyway in a few years.

    This is the reboot. Too many past X-Men stories are irreconcilable with Hickman’s retcons to approach it otherwise.

    Chris V: Plus, having their own island-nation isn’t that much of a change as some seem to believe.
    Was hiding in a mansion really that different from having their own nation?

    Yes. It meant they still lived in the world, in the broader society, if only part-time. They ate out, went to movies, took classes, had human friends, etc. They were embedded in a broader context that, along with their very human interpersonal struggles, made them sympathetic and relatable. They were people the reader got to know and could relate to, not just opaque, abstract action figures acting out the plot.

    IMO, that’s a key ingredient of the franchise’s formula that’s been mostly missing for the last two decades. I also tend to think that, when long-time fans wax nostalgic for the Claremont era, that relatability is what they’re really referring to. When the franchise’s writers have periodically lapsed into nostalgia, they’ve captured the form of the Claremont era without that emotional substance–hollow pastiche rather than faithful continuation. Those disaffected fans want characters to connect with and give a shit about.

    The problem is that style of storytelling has been out of fashion for a very, very long time, and both the medium and the genre have abandoned the elements that made that style work. Thought bubbles, which put us inside the characters’ heads and allowed us to know exactly their feelings and motivations, are practically verboten. Decompression and the abandonment of captions have shifted more of the storytelling load to the artwork, diluting the ability of text to convey dense amounts of information in a short space. The current generation of writers tend to focus more on concepts and ideas they find interesting than on organic characterization. The stop-start, 18-month to 2-year publishing/marketing cycle precludes the kind of long-form character development that made Claremont’s style so popular. IMO, the shift from “Marvel style” writing to full-script is likely a factor as well.

    To be honest, I don’t think the contemporary comics industry could truly replicate the classic X-Men storytelling formula today if they tried. They just don’t know how anymore.

    Bringing this back to Hickman, I think the only sensible way to approach what he’s doing is as a de facto reboot. His run is it’s own thing, not a continuation of the X-Men as we’ve historically known them. For my part, while I’d prefer someone to pick up Claremont’s baton and bring back that kind of storytelling (not just a pastiche of it), I know that’s never going to happen. Sp, there’s no point in pining for it. I don’t find Hickman’s X-Men likable or sympathetic at all–these aren’t “my” X-Men. But, his ideas are interesting and, for the time being, I’m curious to see where he takes things.

    Of course, others’ mileage will vary.

  2. Chris V says:

    I know. I miss that too.

    Based on what we’ve gotten for nearly two decades though, I’d much rather see what Hickman is going to try to do.

    My comments were directed towards the concern that having their own island nation is different from them hiding in a mansion, as per Xavier’s dream.
    This way, mutants actually have to interact with the rest of the world.
    Before, it was “the X-Men hide in a mansion, act like superheroes, and look forward to a day when Xavier’s dream magically occurs”.

    Even with Claremont’s run though, the concept moved on to the period when the X-Men were hiding in the Outback.
    I really enjoyed that period of X-Men history.

    As far as the personal, it doesn’t need to be jettisoned.
    We could see stories about mutants setting up their own society.
    Building restaurants and theatres and everything else that makes up a community.
    Then, spending their time visiting those locales, together.

    Plus, there’s nothing that says that everyone is stranded on Krakoa and can’t leave.
    We know that Shaw has already said he isn’t going to give up his wealth or property to live on Krakoa.
    We could see different characters traveling to visit their human friends.

    The same potential is all still there with mutants having their own island nation.
    It’s just a matter of if any creators have any interest in telling these types of stories.

  3. Dazzler says:

    Not trying to be overly argumentative here, and I’ve certainly agreed with some of your thoughts in these threads. However…

    “Based on what we’ve gotten for nearly two decades though, I’d much rather see what Hickman is going to try to do.”

    I just really, really hate this line of thought. We know exactly how good the X-Men can be and have been; best stable of characters in comics, and in my opinion the best concept (Fighting to protect a world that hates and fears them) and the reasons as to why the books have languished for so long are obvious and correctable.

    “Before, it was ‘the X-Men hide in a mansion, act like superheroes, and look forward to a day when Xavier’s dream magically occurs’.”

    First, the whole concept always has been and will be again that they fight for the weak and don’t abuse their powers and teach mutants how to harness their gifts, and so on and so forth. It’s a fine concept, probably one of the best. And not only can Xavier’s dream never quite occur in any lasting sense given the nature of ongoing comics, and the idea is to keep fighting for what you believe in even in the face of unending adversity.

    “As far as the personal, it doesn’t need to be jettisoned.
    We could see stories about mutants setting up their own society.
    Building restaurants and theatres and everything else that makes up a community.
    Then, spending their time visiting those locales, together.”

    Honestly I’m not saying this to be impolite, but that sounds so bad and boring. This is not what anyone reads comics for, I don’t think.

    “The same potential is all still there with mutants having their own island nation.”

    Not only do I disagree, but I think there’s no way of even truly going back from this absent the lazy, ultra convenient plot device of Moira’s 11th life where none of this ever happened.

    I just really hate this a lot.

  4. Job says:

    @Dazzler

    “We know exactly how good the X-Men can be and have been”

    I didn’t read X-Men Gold, but wasn’t that a blatant attempt to try to recapture the Claremont formula a bit? And people kind of liked it but not greatly? I don’t see how you can hope to achieve the greatness that has come before by trying to write it the way it was before. Even without stopping to consider whether or not certain types of storytelling are dated, one would end up retreading what Claremont already did. It’s basically the problem everyone has with Fantastic Four, trying to recapture the Kirby magic.

    “the reasons as to why the books have languished for so long are obvious and correctable”

    Are they? You can easily point to aspects that didn’t work, but that’s far easier than suggesting what should have been written in their place.

    “This is not what anyone reads comics for, I don’t think.”

    Reading comics for a certain reason and enjoying things about certain comics are two different things. I don’t want comics just about two characters talking, but I can name a ton of those that I did enjoy.

  5. Evilgus says:

    @AlanL
    “But it does them in the least interesting or promising ways available. It offers a wraparound explanation for many of the hanging threads of Claremont’s X-men; it explains what Moira is doing in her first appearance, (now seemingly posing) as the X-men’s housekeeper. It gives purpose to Moira’s death, a story that was handled not so memorably at the time, and it ties Mystique and Destiny much more indelibly to X-men lore in general––no longer just supervillain operators, they now have a retroactive reason to be near the X-men, and always being interested in the X-men’s business (since they must know Moira is with the X-men in some capacity)…

    Most importantly, the series provides a definitive answer to the burning question relatively little addressed: why, if Xavier wants peace between mutants and humans, are the X-men a paramilitary squad? Why aren’t they a publicity team, for instance? Mostly, they’re paramilitary, and to that end Professor X trained them relentlessly in a combat simulator. HoXPoX makes it implicitly clear that Xavier can make the X-men a paramilitary team because he’s seen the future, and he knows he’ll be fighting the humans and the machines. ”

    Really liked this post in its entirety, but these bits resonated especially. Agree with others that it was very thoughtful post!

    The only thing I feel slightly sad about, is how Moira is almost an arch manipulator. As a supporting character, she was always warm and sympathetic, plus notably the most prominent human ally. Now that’s gone. BUT – I feel the trade off is worth it, given the impact of the revelation and where it has taken the story.

    Hopefully we see her brew an awful coffee at some point 😉

  6. Chris V says:

    Dazzler, you say you want to see a return to how things used to be in the X-Men.
    Claremont’s run was famous for its characterization and quiet stories.
    The series wasn’t just about big fight scenes and punching evil mutants.

    Lobdell was heavily influenced by Claremont’s style, and included a lot of quiet issues in between his big action stories.

    I’m not saying that the entire series should just be the X-Men sitting around drinking coffee.
    I’m saying that you can bring back that characterization and the sense that mutants are a family while setting the story on an island-nation, just as easily as in a mansion.

  7. Job says:

    @Chris V

    I think what you’re saying is that any concept or premise can be done well, and can still be blended with past elements. There are, in almost all cases (unless you’re Chuck Austen), no “bad ideas” but merely poor execution.

    Imagine HoXPoX with a POV character who was as skeptical about the premise as readers were. Imagine how much more engaging that could’ve been.

  8. Dazzler says:

    Just gotta say to Job that X-Men Gold was garbage for various reasons, and I already mentioned in another thread that I’m not moved by anecdotal evidence of failed attempts to recapture Claremont.

    I just believe it’s been so long since Marvel actually put honest effort into making X-Men comics that deliver the stuff that made the book great in the first place. Reset the original premise with all of the main characters acting like themselves.

    And to Chris V, I think there’s plenty of room for humanity, quiet character moments n stuff, but I think it has to come naturally out of the other stuff happening in order to resonate. I’m completely unconvinced of this premise, and I couldn’t be less interested in the minutiae of any society this clone cult ends up forming. I just don’t think being a mutant is a valid identity to rally around and get obsessed with any more so than having gray eyes.

  9. Job says:

    @Dazzler

    “I just believe it’s been so long since Marvel actually put honest effort into making X-Men comics that deliver the stuff that made the book great in the first place”

    And when was that? And honestly, besides Claremont (original Claremont? All Claremont, including his return and his 2004 run?), what do you actually like?

  10. YLu says:

    I absolutely want mutants to be portrayed as a valid identity to rally around and more meaningful than eye color because how else are X-Men stories going to play up the big metaphor for all its worth?

  11. CJ says:

    I wonder if Danger will play any role in this new status quo. It’s both mutant and machine, sort of like Cypher.

    Plus, in Astonishing X-Men #12, Xavier is displaying a lot of HoX-esque pragmatism:

    “I saw no other course. My teams needed to be prepared. Mutantkind needed to be protected. No matter the cost.”

    Cyclops: “You figure we’ve taken enough from the Sapiens, why not dish it out to the A.I.?”

    I’m really enjoying the current direction, but I think themes of mutant identity and community are strengthened when you raise the question about what those things are and show variance of opinion.

  12. Chris V says:

    Except, the X-Men always seemed obsessed by the concept of mutantdom.
    They were “hated and feared, because they were mutants”.
    Xavier’s dream was that one day, humans and mutants would live together in peace.
    They formed a superhero team based around being mutants.
    It wasn’t like Xavier trained them, and then said, “OK, you can now go be a superhero. Join the Avengers.”

    They spent their time fighting evil mutants.

    The series has often revolved around the fact that mutants were facing persecution or potential genocide based on the fact that they are mutants.

    Based on all of this, why wouldn’t mutants end up rallying together and finding a common cause?

  13. Dazzler says:

    @Job: The stuff I’m talking about is basically everything until around 1998. The downfall for me started when editorial mucked with Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle, then Alan Davis was awful, then Claremont was awful, then I really, really liked Scott Lobdell’s mini fill-in run, then Grant Morrison happened and I know some people like it, but it’s not for me and it’s not particularly X-Men. I always thought it should have just been Ultimate X-Men and it would have been fine.

    Since then, I enjoyed Mike Carey’s run and thought he should have been given the lead book. I thought Jason Aaron’s run was pretty good, though I thought AVX derailed it pretty early on. Truthfully as much disdain as I have for Bendis and don’t usually like writers adding their own pet characters to the mythos, because at this point it’s a mess, I was surprised to enjoy some of the stuff he did with his new class in Uncanny. I really dug Uncanny X-Force, and I love all of the stuff Si Spurrier did (Legacy, X-Force). I really loved the Magneto ongoing, but that was derailed by X-Axis. Recurring theme. That’s what comes to mind.

    None of these writers have been allowed to take the lead, except Bendis who really shouldn’t have been allowed to take the lead and only contributed a few nice character moments in an awful, rudderless status quo that really needed to be a concise story instead.

    There really haven’t been very many classic, complete lineups with all the main characters in one place. Emma Frost is always around, almost all of the characters have been dead from time to time. People seem to love the animated series, they love the stuff where it was a consistent soap opera, and I think there’s a cut-off around, say, Cannonball (circa 1995) for being a “core” X-Man. Something about his graduation still seems significant to me. At some point the cast gets too watered down for its own good, and I feel like you need a reset. Like they did in 1991. I think the market would have eaten it up, and you continue the narrative from there. The Fantastic Four are who they are. The Avengers, Justice League, etc. repeatedly go back to core lineups to cleanse the palette. I don’t think the X-Men have even tried. I think people have lost sight of the concept.

  14. Dazzler says:

    @Chris: Their mutations are what they are, and they separate them from humanity in superficial ways, and they’re often dangerous, etc. But they’re just people with mutations. Virtually everyone has different mutations, and they certainly don’t seem to fit into any picture of true evolution. Controlling the weather seems to be a good bit beyond evolution.

    Anyhow, they can’t help but be mutants. They choose to be heroes. That’s what makes them X-Men. The persecution doesn’t necessarily have to make sense for it to be poignant. They’ve allowed non mutants on the team, etc. I don’t think they for the most part are obsessed with mutancy as an identity the way it’s portrayed here. I feel like it’s always been, “I don’t know why you hate us, but we choose not to hate you and we will protect you from all kinds of threats including evil mutants.

    I do not understand the idea that being a mutant is the most important trait a mutant can have and trumps everything else, all other ideologies. A Hydra dude who brainwashed Wolverine and sent him on a killing spree is now one of four field commanders, along with a girl who is a part time demon. Mr. Sinister is one of their appointed leaders. It’s all pretty ridiculous and unappetizing

  15. Chris V says:

    I’m not saying everything in House and Powers works or makes sense.
    I’m just saying that being a mutant has been part and parcel of the X-Men’s world since the very beginning.
    Mutants do share a common cause.
    If they should be sharing anything else, well, that’s not really my decision.

    You can argue the same thing about sexuality too. “I don’t understand why being gay should trump everything else”.
    It usually does not.
    Some gay people may be Communists while others may be Capitalists.
    The two probably won’t end up getting along very well if they decide to debate politics.
    There’s still the idea that gay people share a common experience that a hetero-person won’t fully understand.

    No, it’s true that most of the Marvel mutants’ powers seem more like magic than evolution.
    That’s just the nature of fictional comic books. Not everything makes logical sense.
    I don’t want to open that can of worms though, for fear that Marvel will want to write a story to explain away mutants’ powers…

    —————————————–

    Personally, I couldn’t stand the relaunch of X-Men, when Claremont left.
    I thought the stories were simply terrible.

    We went from Claremont doing interesting and different things with the X-characters in Uncanny X-Men; and then it was back to the mansion, the original team, Professor X, Magneto as a villain…
    I found it terribly dull compared to what Claremont had been doing on the book.

    I eventually came to like what Lobdell was doing with the book.
    It was around the time just prior to Age of Apocalypse and up to Onslaught that I came to enjoy the X-Men again.
    Onslaught was just terrible, and the books never seemed to recover again, until Morrison came along to do something different again.

    I don’t think it’s so simple as saying that “if only the X-Men were like the good old days again, the stories would be so much better”.
    There were plenty of horrible stories from the 1990s too.

  16. Job says:

    @Dazzler

    I appreciate the clarification. I have a much clearer idea of what you look for in X-Men comics now.

    “At some point the cast gets too watered down for its own good, and I feel like you need a reset.”

    I’ve thought about this recently, and honestly, I think this has been impossible since . . . well, perhaps since the first volume of X-Factor. There are too many good mutant characters, but too many to occupy a single core cast. I kind of hate the remit of the first volume of X-Factor – just a title reuniting the original X-Men – but I get it. Editorial would never have allowed Claremont to retire Cyclops and crew. They didn’t allow Seagle to do it either. It will never happen. This is a franchise, not a story.

    That said, with all these mutants taking up the same general space with few specific agendas, there aren’t a lot of ways to naturally subdivide them into teams. I was even thinking about the wonderful original Uncanny X-Force, and Deadpool’s motivation for being there is basically that he has nothing else going on, and Fantomex’s original motivation for joining is (???). I’m not saying those are weaknesses of the book, but it plays into the problem of why any of these characters are around. There are too many of them with too little to do.

  17. CJ says:

    @Dazzler

    If you read it, what was your thought about X-Men Forever? I know it wasn’t a reset, and it’s definitely not what Claremont would’ve done had he not left in 1991. Did it scratch the itch as it were?

    I could see an interesting X-Men reset happening around the end of Age of Apocalypse. In fact, a different AoA ending could be the cause of such a reset.

    AoA ends, Generation X starts. Anti-mutant sentiment exists, but is not so large that “protecting those who hate and fear them” is still tenable.

    Skip Onslaught and Zero Tolerance.

    Have a 5-year plan that deals with the Creed presidential campaign and ends with a better version of The Twelve. Let Cyclops and Jean retire.

    X-Factor is disbanded, and the members, maybe inspired by the Muir Island X-Men, focus more on human/mutant outreach, include other humans as X-Men (like Tom Corsi, Charlotte Jones, …), funded by a Casey-esque Archangel.

    The X-Men could consist of 2 teams: Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Bishop, Wolverine, Iceman, Beast, Havok, Polaris, and Psylocke.

  18. Dazzler says:

    I think the thing I’m looking for is the tone, specifically. Classic characters too, but with that Claremont tone. I’m better able to voice that through this discussion, so thank you for that. The tone here is all off, obviously in part intentionally. Grant Morrison certainly disrupted the tone. All the characters are back with a big high profile relaunch for the first time in ages and it’s this creepy mutant supremacy cult and everybody is a clone. Villains versus heroes is a far bigger difference than who happens to be a mutant. I just hate it so much.

    And I didn’t read X-Men Forever. I don’t like ongoing what-if stuff. Hated having a redundant Ultimate Universe immensely. Things are confusing enough by nature. If it was a finite, focused series and if I really believed it’s what Claremont would have done in the first place, I might have had some interest.

  19. Dazzler says:

    Oh yeah, meant to add to my first paragraph, I agree there have been some terrible stories in the era(s) I love, but I think that’s correctable if they ever checked all the right boxes at once. Great art, the right tone, the animated series characters (more or less). Hopefully it’s what we’ll get after this is finally over.

  20. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Claremont himself didn’t believe in classic characters and kept shaking up the roster, though.

    I myself wouldn’t want a strictly classic team – I like many of the newer additions and I’m always sad when they disappear without a trace.

    Still, if ‘a finite, focused series [being] what Claremont would have done in the first place’ is what you’re interested in – have you read his X-Men: The End limited series? (Technically a trilogy of 6-issue miniseries).

    It’s not exactly ‘what Claremont would have done in the first place’ since it takes into account the state of the x-line as it was when The End was written, it includes characters that debuted after Claremont’s run and so on, but still – it is finite and focused.

    I haven’t read it in ages, so I have no idea if it holds up, but I remember rather liking it at the time.

  21. Chris V says:

    X-Men: The End isn’t really what Claremont would have done either.
    In any sense.

    He felt the need to throw as many characters in to the mix as possible, and then took what should have been years of story and tried to meld it all together in only so many issues.
    The characterization is mostly lacking.
    The pacing is a mess.

    There was too much trying to work in plots and characters left over from his later returns to the X-books (most of those ideas deserved to die), and also trying to work with the Grant Morrison run.

    I think there’s some level of charm for long-time fans just to see all the references that Claremont makes.

    I wouldn’t recommend that book though.
    I would not call it focused, by any means, either. It suffers from a deficit of focus, in fact.

  22. Dazzler says:

    Bear in mind, I’m not advocating for a totally stagnant cast. I’m avoiding for a reset where we treat people to what they loved about this book in the first place and go from there. A periodic cleanse, which to me has been long overdue.

    The cast has gotten way too big, and the books have clearly lost all focus. I just don’t think they should stray so far from a winning formula that worked just fine for decades and that is still beloved.

    The cast can change organically from there, but I’d like to see it flow out of a proper reset of the original concept. Even Claremont in his 17 years on the book didn’t stray THAT far from his core characters. The various casts of the last 17 years absolutely dwarf the maybe 20-ish characters he focused on.

  23. Dazzler says:

    *advocating (in my first paragraph), not avoiding. Though I am avoiding the books until this run is over.

  24. Dazzler says:

    And I’ll add, they *kind of* attempted this with Joss Whedon’s arrival, and they were actually pretty explicit about their goal to “make the X-Men the X-Men again,” but there were some very serious problems. Specifically that the supposed flagship was this temporary series (which had Emma Frost in the main cast) that, aside from not really being all that good, was destined to fall behind the other books and therefore can’t drive the narrative. And speaking of those other books, they were written by Claremont (a bad thing post-1991) and Chuck Austen.

    I just don’t think Marvel realizes what criteria it should have been looking for to re-establish X-Men as being a top book. And I’ll be shocked if people show up in droves to buy this new line.

  25. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the Outback era only Storm and Wolverine remained of the team Claremont started his run with. He strayed pretty far as far as I’m concerned.

    Also I’m a fan of Emma on the team. 🙂

  26. Chris V says:

    Yes, Claremont was known for making drastic changes throughout his run.
    A core takeaway from Claremont’s run was evolution. The evolution of the X-Men comic as Claremont wrote it.
    He didn’t want to keep writing the same stories over and over again.
    That was the genius of Claremont’s X-Men.
    He was able to keep the book fresh for over 200 issues in a row.

    —————————————

    The comic book market isn’t the same, and is never going to be the same again.
    Marvel is never going to see the sales figures it once had back in the early-1990s.

    First of all, comics were hot.
    Kids were all reading comics, because it was the cool thing to do.
    Today, comics are far too expensive for kids.
    They aren’t going to aim comics at kids, because not many kids have $4 that they can/will spend on one comic book.
    The core comic audience are people in their mid-30s to mid-50s.
    The ones who grew up reading comics in the 1980s and 1990s and never grew out of it.

    Secondly, there was the speculator market.
    When it was considered by gullible adults that every comics they bought off the racks was going to increase in value at least double, there were lots of people rushing out to buy multiple copies of every book.
    They expected to sit on the comic for a few years, and then turn around and sell the book for an inflated profit.
    Instead, the bubble burst, and these speculators realized they had wasted a lot of money on something that wasn’t going to help them retire early.
    Those days are long gone.

    Hickman’s run has seen the X-Men comics doing the best they’ve done in a long, long time.
    For Marvel, the relaunch is already a success.
    Will fans keep reading the X-line for the long run?
    Probably not, no. Because, not many fans stay with any comic series for a long period of time anymore.
    It’s why DC keeps rebooting their entire universe every so many years.
    They get huge sales for about six months or so, and then the sales start dropping off.

  27. Chris V says:

    Plus, if we’re just looking at sales, then we have to hold up Grant Morrison’s New X-men and Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men as the best example of what the X-Men should look like today.
    Both those runs were the closest that sales on X-Men have gotten to their “glory days”.

    I don’t see any X-title sales ever getting close to the Morrison or Millar sales figures ever again, to be honest.

    Note:I’m not sticking up for Millar’s UXM run, which I found atrocious, but the Ultimate Universe was really hot for a couple of years.

  28. Job says:

    @Dazzler

    “I just don’t think Marvel realizes what criteria it should have been looking for to re-establish X-Men as being a top book.”

    I honestly don’t think you do either, if the presence of Emma Frost is the single factor that drives you away.

  29. Dazzler says:

    1. You guys are constantly ignoring the fact that I keep calling for a palette cleanse, not complete stagnation. I referenced the Fantastic Four, who are four characters. Guests shuffle in and out, but if you never get back to Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben you’ve watered down the concept too much.

    I love the Outback era. It’s one of my favorite eras, but it flowed from a consistent narrative and it had solid throughlines, and relatively shortly after that era we got a reset with X-Men #1, which was pretty successful at the time I think.

    What I’m calling for is just the cleanse. Get the best cast of characters in comics all back together with the best core concept in comics. Remind people what made them so popular, then spin the stories out from there. Eventually this is going to happen because comics are infinite and cyclical. I’m just calling for them to get it right. I beg you not to make me repeat that yet again, because I tried to be clear before.

    2. I never came close to suggesting Emma is the only reason I wouldn’t like something, but I think her everpresence was a real blemish and diminished a character who works best in doses. I just don’t think it can be quintessential X-Men if she’s one of the main characters.

  30. Chris V says:

    I still think it’s just a matter of your personal taste, which is perfectly fine, because that’s what influences all of us.

    Because the Morrison run wasn’t too far from what you’re describing.
    Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean were the main characters.
    Beast was also in a prominent role.
    Professor X was around.
    They lived in the mansion.
    Magneto was back to being a psychotic Silver Age villain.

    Yes, Emma was a member of the X-Men, but she had been a teacher in the Generation X comic for a long time beforehand.
    It was basically the same as Cannonball joining the X-Men during Lobdell’s run.

    Morrison’s run was incredibly popular.

  31. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    What you’re describing is completely a matter of personal taste. Emma is a quintessential X-Man for me, she’s been an x-related character for 25 years now, an X-Man for 18. Longer than I’ve been reading these comics (though not by much).

  32. Dazzler says:

    Morrison’s X-Men was a very drastic tonal shift, and the characters were mostly written very differently than they had been in the recent past. Morrison even said he intended to write the characters as archetypes. Also, Morrison’s run is divisive. Loved by many, disliked by probably an equal number of people. Stuff like Wolverine saying he didn’t have to look like an idiot in broad daylight were a clear break from classic anything. I did say in an earlier comment here that it’s the tone plus the characters that makes it work. Morrison’s tone was all off.

    I kind of suspect this run will mirror his in that it’s turning a lot of people off as it brings new readers in. I don’t think the trade-off was worth it Morrison; I think a lot of loyal long-time readers fell off and the people who were there for Morrison mostly didn’t stick around. I think this is at the heart of why the books fell off. This time around they have a lot less to lose, but I’m skeptical about this line selling all that great.

    And Emma can be on the fringes as far as I’m concerned, like shuffled off in Generation X or even Marauders, but she’ll always be a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to me and I prefer her in doses. She’s at least a little like Gambit to me in the sense that they arev outsiders and they’re at their best when they’re at least w little bit at odds with the team. I don’t buy her as a trusted leader. One man’s trash, etc.

  33. Job says:

    @Dazzler:

    “I referenced the Fantastic Four, who are four characters. Guests shuffle in and out, but if you never get back to Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben you’ve watered down the concept too much.”

    Their book is called THE FANTASTIC FOUR. We know exactly how many character are supposed to be on the team and who they are. The X-Men have never, ever, EVER had that consistency. There is no core, “true” X-Men team. There never has been.

    “I love the Outback era. It’s one of my favorite eras, but it flowed from a consistent narrative and it had solid throughlines”

    You have to be kidding. That was the least consistent era. Claremont even acknowledged he basically wasn’t even writing a team anymore, but a bunch of characters all over the world pursuing their own adventures.

    “What I’m calling for is just the cleanse. Get the best cast of characters in comics all back together with the best core concept in comics.”

    This doesn’t mean anything. There is no best cast. There are no best concepts. This is all subjective. Many people on this forum have said their best is Morrison. You’ve disagreed. Nobody is wrong.

    “I think her everpresence was a real blemish”

    This doesn’t mean anything. She was a member of the team. She was supposed to be “ever present.” I think Wolverine’s “ever presence” diminishes the character. Neither of us are wrong.

  34. Job says:

    @Krzysiek

    “Emma is a quintessential X-Man for me, she’s been an x-related character for 25 years now, an X-Man for 18.”

    Emma Frost was created in 1980. She joined an X-team in 1994. She joined the core X-Men in 2001. She left the team in 2017. She’s back on again in 2019.

    Out of nearly 40 years, she was a member of the X-Men or another X-Men team for 24 years, over half of her existence.

  35. Job says:

    @Dazzler

    “Also, Morrison’s run is divisive.”

    This isn’t saying anything. “Oh, it was divisive? Well, I thought it was great, but now that you say it’s divisive, I guess I should . . . like it less?”

    “she’ll always be a bit of a Johnny-come-lately to me”

    Unless, you know, you change your mind. The books are changing but your tastes have remained the same. Whose problem is that?

Leave a Reply