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May 15

The X-Axis – 15 May 2011

Posted on Sunday, May 15, 2011 by Paul in x-axis

Once again, the wise schedulers at Marvel bring us three X-Men titles in a single week (plus two second-tier X-books, one of which is a crossover, and one of which is the launch of a new direction).  They certainly don’t make it easy for books to get noticed, do they?  You’ve almost got to admire the way Marvel gratuitously make life harder for themselves.

Also this week, DC kicks off its own summer crossover.  And John Layman and Rob Guillory present one of the more bizarre promotional tactics of recent years.

Astonishing X-Men #37 – This is only Daniel Way’s second issue, so it doesn’t bode well that fill-in art is already creeping in, with Sara Pichelli taking over from Jason Pearson towards the end of this story.  Even more strangely, the book is about to start a new format where alternate issues feature chapters of a different story by a different creative team featuring a different cast.  It’s not impossible that this might work – Thunderbolts and Hercules have both tried something similar in the past – but on any view it’s a very odd way of putting a comic together.

The X-Men – well, Scott, Emma and Wolverine, anyway – are in Tokyo fighting a giant dragon, because that’s what you do in Tokyo.  Apparently the dragon’s supposed to be Fin Fang Foom, though I’m not quite sure how that would fit into continuity – but it doesn’t matter.  There’s a nice simple idea here; D-list villain Mentallo has double-crossed Roxxon Oil and used them to hitch a lift to Monster Island, where he’s promptly seized control of all the giant monsters.  Now, in good old fashioned villainous style, he’s embarking on a blackmail scheme.  As a plot, this is so old school that you almost figure there has to be a twist coming.  But if so, it’s very well hidden.

And hey, fine.  If we’re going to have this quantity of X-Men stories coming out, they can’t all feature earth-shattering plot developments.  They shouldn’t, in fact.  By all means, let’s use some of those extra issues to get the team out there, fight some villains, and have some fun.  The “giant monsters attack Tokyo” schtick is old as the hills, but the artists are having great fun with it.  Way is doing a smart job rehabilitating Mentallo, a journeyman villain who’s finally hit on a scheme that works and is being terribly smug about it.  There’s also a nice sequence at the end with Wolverine arguing the case for not killing the giant mind-controlled dragon; if “Schism” is about the X-Men finally turning on Scott’s hardline stance, then it makes sense to have these scenes that show how far he’s drifted from his original character in the last few years.

On the other hand, there’s also a laboured subplot with Armor attending her parents’ funeral and being guilt-tripped back into her family role.  And that doesn’t really work – partly because of a sombre tone that just seems silly when it’s intercut with giant dragons, but partly because it’s all a bit cliched and one-dimensional.  In theory, this is presumably meant to be Armor’s story – it’s about her return home and her dilemma over whether to stay with the X-Men or return to the fold – but she isn’t coming across as a sufficiently interesting character for me to care much whether she stays or not.

Still, X-Men fighting giant dragons.  That’s entertaining enough.

Chew #27 – From the “weird yet audacious gimmickry” file!  The last issue of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s series Chew was issue #18; the next one will be issue #19.  And this, shipping months out of sequence, is an issue from next spring – cheerfully labelled “Space Cakes, part 2 of 5”.  The idea, supposedly, is to reward people who are buying the monthly series; this won’t appear in the collected editions until the rest of the “Space Cakes” arc appears some time in 2012.  (It certainly doesn’t make sense as a jumping-on point for new readers, who won’t get anything out of the gimmick.)

The gimmick isn’t completely unprecedented.  When Quantum & Woody came back from hiatus in the 90s, it simply picked up its numbering as if it had kept going the whole time, and left it to readers to figure out what had happened.  Something vaguely similar is going on here, but in this case, it’s a weirdly meta type of foreshadowing.  Lead character Tony Chu is in hospital and, from the look of it, his sister Toni has usurped him in the title role.  For a moment it looks like the book is going to cheat massively and tell a flashback story, but that only takes four pages, and then we’re on to a comic about agents of NASA investigating psychedelic frog/chicken hybrids.  Of course, it’s hard to get into that story when you know that it won’t be picked up until the middle of next year.  But what the book offers instead is fodder for speculation about how the story got to this point.

If they’re serious about this story ultimately appearing in the collected editions as part 2 of 5, then it’s understandable that it has to spend time on things that don’t really carry much weight at this stage, and I can’t help wondering whether it’s really possible to write a story that truly works both as issue #27 and as issue #18A.  Still, as a novelty that drops hints about where the series is going, fans should enjoy it.

Daken: Dark Wolverine #9 – As well as being the conclusion of “Collision”, the four-part crossover with X-23, this is also Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu’s final issue before handing the series over to Rob Williams.  But if you’re hoping for their run to end with any particular pay-off, well, think again.  What we get in this issue is a resolution of “Collision” and a restatement of much the same thing that the book has been saying about Daken for months.

Daken and X-23 team up in an alliance of convenience to take on the reborn Weapon X project, and something of a bloodbath ensues.  And then they have a chat about stuff.  Daken sees Laura as someone who ought to be a kindred spirit, and doesn’t understand why she’s on the other side.  Laura sees Daken as someone who’s accepted his role as a sociopath instead of trying to broaden himself like she does.  Here endeth the insight.  While it ought to be possible to construct an interesting story based around these two characters, and even around these particular themes, this isn’t it.  It’s a hack and slash affair, after which everyone stops to moralise at one another.  And then, at the end, it turns out that (you guessed it) Daken has outwitted everyone yet again.  The book finishes by hitting the usual note of ambiguity: is Daken the one-note psycho he holds himself out as, or does he have a buried yearning for something more, which he denies even to himself?  At this stage it’s almost become a case of “Can he really be as one-dimensional as he seems?”

I’d count “Collision” as a failure.  It doesn’t manage to get anything particularly interesting out of the two characters.  It hauls X-23 into the Madripoor storyline for no very clear reason and shunts her out just as quickly.  Colcord, cast as the common antagonist, never gets to do anything interesting.  And the plot just lurches arbitrarily from one thing to the next.  I get the impression that we’re supposed to view Daken as a master planner who’s one step ahead of everyone else, but the schemes don’t fall into place neatly enough to give that impression.  He just seems like he’s making it up as he goes along – and so do the writers.

Flashpoint #1 – The summer crossover season continues, as DC’s big series gets under way.  And it’s a better first issue than Fear Itself.  I’d take Stuart Immonen’s art over Andy Kubert’s (though his work here is perfectly okay), but at least Flashpoint gets around to establishing the concept and setting its terms, instead of just dropping cryptic hints.

As everyone already knew, it’s an alternate reality story.  The world has changed, and Barry Allen’s the only one who remembers it.  But he’s not the Flash any more, so there’s not a great deal he can do about that.  From Barry’s point of view, it’s a story about trying to figure out what happened and get the world back to normal, despite this world having at least a couple of points in its favour.  For all the other characters, this is normal, and they’re more worried about the ongoing war in Europe between Aquaman and Wonder Woman.  There’s a Batman as well, but he’s got other things on his mind.

Granted, there are also quite a few cameo appearances which seem intended to set up the legion of spin-offs that DC are producing for this series.  A couple of the reinventions of existing characters are clever, though – a group of kids who each have one of  the “SHAZAM” powers and collectively turn into Captain Marvel, for example.  The change to Batman is a similarly neat twist.  And the story makes good, logical use of Barry’s position: he may not have any powers, but he does remember the real world, which means he knows stuff about the other characters – albeit stuff which might or might not still be true.

It’s a fashionable way to structure crossovers these days – build the central story around a core cast, and then use it as a backdrop for other people to do whatever stories they want.  On the face of it, it’s basically DC’s version of House of M, but with a stronger central story.  That said, DC are claiming it has wider implications for the DC Universe, and we all know what that normally means – yet another continuity revision.  Whether that means you need to actually read Flashpoint or merely know that it happened, is another matter.  Still, it’s a good opening issue, and hits the ground running more effectively than Marvel did with Fear Itself.

New Mutants #26 – The first issue for a new creative team, with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning writing, and Leandro Fernandez on art.  That’s a strong team, which bodes well in itself.  Abnett and Lanning know how to juggle the cast in a team book, too.  Their first issue opens with an action scene designed to show off Dani as a potential leader; moves on to Illyana being taken to task for her behaviour when Zeb Wells was writing the book; checks in on a dangling subplot about Karma and Face; gives Sam and Dani a scene to discuss handing over the leadership role; sets up the team’s new remit; and wraps up with another action scene leading into a cliffhanger.  These guys know how to make the most of their page count.

Putting Dani in charge is probably a wise move.  Playing up her leadership role gives her a reason to be on the team beyond pure nostalgia; it could also help move Sam beyond the “young leader in the making” role where he’s been stuck for the last twenty years.  And it’s also nice to see the book taking as its starting point the fallout from Zeb Wells’ stories, with a nice dash of understated black humour in Illyana’s scenes.

In fact, this story looks very much as though it was intended to follow immediately from Wells’ final issue, which still seems to be preoccupying many of the characters.  There’s a token reference to “Age of X”, but not much more than that.  And that tends to confirm my suspicion that “Age of X” shouldn’t really have been in New Mutants.  I have some doubts, also, about the stated new direction for the team: tying up the X-Men’s unfinished business.  True enough, there are plenty of loose ends that need addressed, and there’s nothing wrong with using those as the springboard for individual stories, but surely the book needs to be about more than just that.  Part of the problem with New Mutants, at least in its current incarnation, has always been to establish quite what the series is about.  In 1983, it was the comic about the X-Men’s trainee team.  In 2011, it’s the comic about the team who used to be the X-Men’s trainee team, aren’t any more, but aren’t quite proper X-Men either.  Perhaps the defining feature of the New Mutants is simply that they’re a tight knit group of friends in an increasingly anonymous X-empire.  At any rate, a series can’t live on nostalgia and continuity-cop stories alone.

But this is a strong debut for the new creative team, and I have faith that there’s more to their direction than merely resolving loose ends from other people’s stories.

X-Men #11 – Because you demanded it – an epilogue to “Curse of the Mutants”?  Really?

This issue picks up on the storyline about Jubilee being turned into a vampire, with the X-Men still trying to help her settle in, and Professor X trying to cheer her up with a story from his past.  Cue a flashback which fills most of the issue.  Al Barrionuevo’s art is perfectly attractive, and the story is okay so far as it goes.  But the scheduling of this story seems curious – why do it now, instead of at the end of “CotM”?  And why do it after the Wolverine & Jubilee miniseries which covered much the same territory of Jubilee coming to terms with her condition?  Perhaps Gischler has long term plans to do something with this storyline, and this is a case of reminding the audience before he moves on to the next arc.  But it does feel like a strangely scheduled afterthought.

X-Men: Legacy #248 – The first of two issues dealing with the aftermath of “Age of X”, and Mike Carey seems to be trying to have his cake and eat it.  Even though everyone was only in the Age of X pocket reality for seven days, they remember being there for years.  A few are permanently changed, with Carey taking the opportunity to hit the cosmic reset button on Chamber – certainly, everything that’s been done with the character since M-Day has been a dead end, but you’d still think people might be a little more excitable about another mutant being re-powered.  Pixie apparently has a split personality now which manifests with different wings, but that’s not very clearly explained.

Now, most characters aren’t supposed to be seriously changed by “Age of X”, so this issue sets about having Emma wipe their memories of the whole storyline.  But a few insist on keeping what they remember, most notably Frenzy, who’s apparently being elevated to a major character in this book – an interesting choice, since she’s been little more than a henchman since her creation in the mid-1980s.  As so often in this book, Carey evidently sees that as an opportunity to work with a character who has history but not much baggage.  The angle here is that Frenzy refuses to forget her relationship with Cyclops, and he’s having none of it.

Gambit appears to write himself out of the book (perhaps so that he can go on his road trip in X-23), though the adverts suggest that won’t last.  And in a neat touch, some minor elements of “Age of X” that had little impact on the story turn out to be more significant now it’s over.  Hellion gets to keep his artificial hands.  And the girl who looked suspiciously like Phoenix is indeed Rachel Summers – who can’t quite remember what she was doing on Utopia in the first place.  It’s things like that that help give the impression that Carey is going somewhere with this; even Hellion’s original maiming, which seemed horribly gratuitous at the time, now looks like it might have fitted in to a broader plan for the character.

This issue isn’t really a story so much as a series of conversations picking up on where the characters are, as the book transitions into its next status quo in issue #250.  But it’s clear that Carey has strong ideas for what he wants to do with his central cast, and his eccentric selection of mostly underused characters makes for interesting reading.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ken B. says:

    Legacy #248 had one of the nicest father/daughter moments in comics that I’ve read in years with Scott and Rachel. It wasn’t heavy handed, it allowed everyone to remember the X-Men still in space, and move forward with the next direction of the series.

  2. JD says:

    New Mutants was issue #25, not #26.

    I remember Image doing the “issue from one year ahead” gimmick way back in the mid-90s, with their issues #25 shipping between #12 and #13 (or, given the usual Image delays, between #9 and #10).

    Of course, dramatic irony meant that at least one of the titles would get cancelled less than a year after (in this case, Bloodstrike, which stopped publishing at issue #22).

    I swear that the only reason I know about this is because I checked out the pre-Ellis issues of Stormwatch, which was part of the gimmick.

  3. Maxwell's Hammer says:

    So let me get this straight.

    Marvel now thinks it necessary to have two on-going X-books that feature arbitrarily fluffy action stories, and that both books should feature essentially the same cast, and that one should be written by Daniel Way, and the one written by Daniel Way should now incorporate a third arbitrarily fluffy action story that appears in alternating months.

    Its amazing how far out of its way Marvel has gone to get me to stop buying an on-going X-Team book for the first time in almost 20 years.

  4. Michael P says:

    I wouldn’t be quite as snarky as Max, but I do agree that there doesn’t seem to be much raison d’etere (sp?) for having both Astonishing and Vanilla X-Men in the lineup. Aside from money, of course.

    Enjoyed Legacy, even though I skipped Age of X. God bless that recap page.

  5. mchan says:

    Some discombobulated comments…

    As compelling as I find Legacy, I wonder how much longer the title will be allowed to continue under its current direction. It’s far too character-focused to be an A-list book, and even as a B-list book, its success probably requires a careful selection of characters around which to focus the book. I wonder how readers will respond to Frenzy, and although Carey is doing a pretty good intro to her character here, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t rather see him bring to the fore some other characters who have been substantially minimized by the Utopia-shift of the books.

    That being said, X-Men, which I think was created, among other reasons, to respond to Legacy and the monthly mire that is Uncanny, hasn’t provided much better. It may be that Paul’s proposed commonality among all the New Mutant books, that they’re about a group of friends within a mostly faceless mutant enclave, may in fact make this book have more of a purpose than the X-Men or Uncanny. The fact that it’s pretty much the only actual consistent “team” book among the X-books remaining probably says something, as well.

    On the other hand, I’m still curious why New Mutants gets a pass, whereas Generation X or even the Academy X characters don’t inspire the same level of nostalgia among readership. To be fair, most of the characters of these later books are dead. While I understand the nostalgia value for the New Mutants, at the same time, I wonder if this nostalgia value has infected the publication staff as well. There seems to be a subconscious resistance on the part of writers to the notion of any new mutant teams after New Mutants, and this is why so many characters from later books keep biting the dust. Honestly, the staying power of this team is remarkable: even including the X-Force years and beyond a surprising percentage of the New Mutants have managed to stay alive. Yet, when Marvel tries to launch a new X-Team book, and wonders why no one buys it, I wonder if they really understand the reasons why. Perhaps it’s because everyone automatically understands that after a few issues, all characters will become cannon fodder?

    Finally, Astonishing, though it has changed writing teams, is still a massive mess on the publication side. What is the remit of this book again?

  6. Reboot says:


    Legacy’s becoming a team book again with – IIRC – Xavier, Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, Frenzy, Havok, Polaris & Rachel forming the team.

  7. Jeff says:

    In Legacy #248, it’s the first time in years that Scott felt like a real character to me.

  8. Tim O'Neil says:

    I think it’s kind of funny that even after two issues and a few crossovers people still don’t feel like they “understand” Fear Itself. This is a massive screw-up on Marvel’s part, because I think it’s fairly obvious that the story is already about whatever it’s going to be about – old god comes back, fucks shit up, puts heroes through their paces, Thor fights Odin, the end.

    Marvel did a great job of promoting a story that they aren’t actually telling – you know, the story of all the Marvel super heroes facing their worst fears. That’s not what Fear Itself is about, despite the months of promotional materials that heavily implied it. Brevoort, I believe, answered this question directly on Formspring a while back, after people kept asking him when they’d see the sequences of all the heroes facing their personal fears – you know, Cyclops becoming Magneto, like in the promo image – and he said, nope, those sequences does not appear in the book, and that isn’t what the book is about. Which means, you know, they spent six months promoting an imaginary book, and the book that is actually here is so different from what people were expecting that people are left wondering what the plot is, because they can’t believe it’s actually as simple as what we’ve already seen.

  9. Suzene says:

    Despite the fact that is too-often seems like Mike Carey’s stuck on clean-up duty WRT squeezing character development from events and plot threads other writers have forgotten, Legacy is the only X-Book I’m buying (in trade, but still buying) and the only one of the line I keep tabs on with the expectation of enjoying what I hear, so I guess he must be doing something right.

  10. JD says:

    It occurs to me that Carey’s been writing Legacy for quite some time now. Checking back, it’s now been 61 issues, which is quite a long run for a “main” X-title.

    (Besides Claremont, only Lobdell lasted for that long… and his Uncanny run was about 62 issues long.)

  11. clay says:

    When Quantum & Woody came back from hiatus in the 90s, it simply picked up its numbering as if it had kept going the whole time, and left it to readers to figure out what had happened.

    Not exactly. The first issue of the relaunch of Q&W was the issue that *would’ve* come out had it been published continually (#32?), but the subsequent issues went back and started from where the series left off (#18?). The problem is that it was re-cancelled before it caught up with the skip-ahead issue.

    Re: Fear Itself. Maybe it’s because I didn’t pay attention to the pre-hype, but I’ve had no problem understanding what it’s about. The threat is clear, the stakes are clear, what’s the confusion? As opposed to, say, Final Crisis, where the main threat didn’t become clear to issue 3 or 4, and the secret *real* main threat didn’t come until the last issue.

    Actually, Fear Itself reminds me in some ways of Morrison’s JLA. Can’t really put a finger on why, but there’s something there…

  12. ZZZ says:

    The problem I had with the Cyclops/Rachel scene in Legacy is that, as someone who’s been reading X-Men comics since the mid-80s, I can’t remember them ever actually having a father/daughter relationship that would lead to a touching reunion where he calls her “sweetheart.”

    She was already in her late teens when they met (at least with Cable, Scott was aware that he had a son). For the first part of Rachel’s time with the X-Men, their relationship was basically her constantly angsting about whether or not she should tell him that she’s his daughter from an alternate future while he was somehow unaware that the telekinetic redhead from the future who wouldn’t tell him her last name might be somehow connected to him and Jean (I don’t think she actually refused to tell him her last name, but either he never asked or he knew and just figured “Summers is a pretty common name” and that’s even worse – I honestly don’t remember whether it came up on panel).

    And I remember that she vanished into the timestream while she was still in Excalibur, and I could swear that the next time she rejoined the X-Men, Jean was dead and Rachel changed her last name to “Grey” to disown Scott over taking up with Emma Frost. Then she disappeared into deep space.

    Does anyone remember at what point Cyclops found out Rachel was his daughter, and whether they actually had any on-panel scenes between the revelation and her disowning Scott establishing him as making an emotional connection with her?

  13. Ash says:

    “Does anyone remember at what point Cyclops found out Rachel was his daughter, and whether they actually had any on-panel scenes between the revelation and her disowning Scott establishing him as making an emotional connection with her?”

    In X-Men Annual #9, where the X-Men head off to Asgard to rescue the New Mutants, they had an encounter with Hela, and Hela blurted out that Rachel’s mom (Phoenix) sent more souls to her that any who professed to serve her cause, ending with her exclaiming, “Glad am I to know thee, Child of Light and Darkness…mayest thou be all thy mother was–and more!”

    This was said in full view of the X-Men, Scott included. It was implied that he already knew, as Kitty suspects a few panels later: “he heard Hela–he MUST know who Ray is–but he hasn’t said a word.”

  14. As I’ve said on my blog, a part of me loves alternate-reality tales and wants to read Flashpoint and love it–but then another part of me doesn’t want to spend 500 dollars picking up all the titles to get the full story and remembers I don’t even really read the Flash or DC too much. The 2nd part has pretty much won.

  15. maxwell's hammer says:

    I don’t really read DC, therefore have no interest in ‘Flashpoint’, but after glancing at the DC solicitations, it looks like the Distinguished Competition is actually trying to outdo Marvel in supplimentary minis. ‘Fear Itself’ has a handful of tie-ins, but the ‘Flashpoint’ minis are practically their own imprint!

  16. wwk5d says:

    Scott and Jean found out for sure during the “Days of Future, Present” crossover. Both of them did not react well to the news, especially Jean, though I don’t recall if Scott mentioned whether he knew for sure or not. Eventually, Jean does make her peace with Rachel before she goes to the future (around the time of Fatal Attractions and Scott & Jean’s wedding). Rachel then goes to the future, where she ends up meeting with a time-traveling Jean & Scott, during the “Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix” mini. She has a nice final scene with Scott and Jean, individually, before she “dies” in the series, and while the series itself was badly written, those good-bye scenes were rather touching, actually.
    Of course, then Rachel comes back, Jean is dead, she disowns Scott, yada yada yada.

  17. Paul says:

    Tim: You may be right, but I think even without the adverts, people would still be wondering “Is this it?” Two issues in, Fraction has failed to establish why this story affects anyone outside the cast of THOR and the handful of characters who’ve actually picked up hammers. Unfortunately, I find it all too easy to believe that FEAR ITSELF combines the worst of Fraction’s work on X-Men (inability to handle a large cast) with the worst of his work on Thor (big ideas, laboured and garbled execution). We know Fraction is talented, and hopefully he’ll get back on track again in the years to come, but by god, he’s making some bad comics these days.

    Re Rachel: Yes, the last time we saw her, she wasn’t speaking to Scott. That does her make her behaviour in LEGACY odd, but it’s Mike Carey, so I figure he knows that and it’s heading somewhere.

  18. Tom says:

    I thought the implication was that revnant was a telepathic message from Rachel that arrived as age of x was created. Legion then gave that message “life” as revnant and when all was over she didn’t remember the message. So it isn’t so much Rachel as an echo of her.

  19. Paul says:

    No, what Rachel says is that she was trying to make telepathic contact with Utopia and her mind was sucked into the Age of X remake of reality, presumably leaving her body comatose. While she might be wrong, she certainly claims to be the disembodied mind of Rachel Summers.

  20. Lawrence says:

    About the Rachel/Scott interaction. I just assumed after being stuck in space for a long time, Rachel had time to get over the fact that this alternate timeline version of her father is dating someone else.

  21. moose n squirrel says:

    Fear Itself actually reminds me a bit of Starlin’s last two Infinity crossovers (War and Crusade), which were basically thinly-veiled Warlock and Thanos stories dressed up with a background of a hundred random superheroes. Now, I loved (and still love) those stories, but mainly because I really like Warlock and Thanos (at least while Starlin is handling them). My tolerance for Thor, however, waxes and wanes, and the prospect of several months of “Thor has daddy issues, Odin acts like a jerk, gods hit each other a lot rather than have a simple conversation that explains their actions to each other” is a bit wearying.

    I’m glad Chamber is back to being Chamber. Does this indicate that someone actually has plans to do something with his character?

  22. clay says:

    Re: Paul’s comment. Yes, in my previous comment, I meant to note that, while I have no problem understanding what Fear Itself is about, I’ve no idea why this storyline merits the mega-crossover format, rather than appearing in Thor or Avengers. It certainly doesn’t seem to have the same line-wide ramifications as Civil War or Secret Invasion.

    I suppose that Marvel figured, hey we need a big event, and having old gods return and destroy the world through fear and chaos certainly *should* affect all of the heros. Storywise, it actually makes sense that everyone would be involved in this event.* But if I were a hypothetical X-Men reader, I can’t say I see much in FI so far that would make me think I need to keep up with it.

    (That being said, however, the first issue of the Spidey: FI mini wasn’t bad at all.)

    *Just like it would make sense for Spider-Man or the FF to show up when Magneto conquers New York. However, it would’ve been disruptive to the narrative for this to actually happen.

  23. AndyD says:

    “it could also help move Sam beyond the “young leader in the making” role where he’s been stuck for the last twenty years. ”

    This made me laugh. Superheroes gets maimed, vampires, brainwashed, killed and resurrected countless times, but they never get older.

  24. Argus says:

    I know lots of people hate Rachel as an especially convoluted character and kind of a Jean also-ran, but I’ve always been partial to her (discovered her back in Excalibur, and the over the top angst always got me – the fact she was the only one of herself in the multiverse – hey, we read the X-Men for angst, right??). That said, I suspect Carey has taken a simplified approach her as not many people may follow her backstory. He’s not one to ignore continuity, so I suspect we’ll get further clarification as the story proceeds. I trust him as a writer.

    Glad Age of X took the opportunity to fix a few ‘broken’ things (if only it fixed Nightcrawler being the son of a demon, or Dazzler’s awful current costume…), and it seems to flow nicely into the next plot. I love how Carey always mixes up his teams, but “gets” the interesting dynamics that make up the X-Men. I’m also following it in trade… and intrigued as to what he’s going to do with Frenzy (remember how interesting he made Lady Mastermind, among others?).

  25. robniles says:

    I’m really intrigued by Frenzy’s potential as well, strange as it sounds. To the best of my knowledge, she has a lot of canon history but no real backstory to speak of, plus I remember that she was a bit quirky in her initial appearances—a generic female bruiser power-wise, yet strangely hyper-articulate for no real reason. Maybe there was a throwaway reference to her doing post-doc work in mutant rights that I missed along the way…

  26. Sol says:

    Errr… I admit I haven’t been following the X-books closely since Morrison’s run ended, so maybe I missed some status changes. (I don’t have any idea who Frenzy even is!) But wouldn’t Xavier, Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, Frenzy, Havok, Polaris & Rachel be just about the most powerful team of X-Men ever put together? With two characters (Gambit and Polaris) whose powers are nearly completely eclipsed by the others?

  27. Jerry Ray says:

    That would be a pretty powerhouse X-Men lineup (not that current comic book storytelling puts any emphasis at all on teams going out and working together and using their powers – something that seems to have fallen out of favor sometime in the 90s). The problem is I’m not even sure what the current status quo of some of those characters is, despite still reading a ton of new comics.

    Xavier – is he back to full strength now? And he’s not currently in a wheelchair, is he?

    Rogue – what are her powers now? Just absorption (no strength/flight), but still unable to control her powers?

    Magneto – still quite powerful, I guess, though he was showing some signs of weakness/overexertion not too long ago.

    Gambit – does he still have that crazy dark side Apocalypse thing going on? (Which apparently Angel and now Pixie also have, as well?)

    Frenzy – haven’t read the most recent issue yet, vaguely remember her from the early days of X-Factor IIRC.

    Havok – is he still being written as a generic force blaster (a la Cyclops)? That always bugged me, because as I recall from his early days, his powers were much more deadly than Cyclops’ eye beam (i.e., not suitable for use against living things).

    Polaris – wasn’t she crazy not that long ago? Don’t know what her status quo is, and it’s a little weird to have her on the same team as Magneto since they have exactly the same power set and I think their personal relationship (or lack thereof) has long since been resolved.

    Rachel – haven’t read the most recent issue, but she was always one of my favorite characters as kind of a Phoenix-lite. Didn’t she get depowered to some extent recently?

  28. Jacob says:

    Another, late, shout of support for Chamber being returned to his good old self.

    @ Mchan, guessing the New Mutants have a lot more fans who have grown up/into positions at Marvel where they can push them. Time will tell if the same happens for Gen X and the Academy X kids.

    Although, I would find it amusing if a team of mutants called Generation X all turned out to be total slackers content to sit out things on the side-lines.

  29. Brian says:

    IMO, the New Mutants seem to suffer from the same affliction as DCs original Teen Titans characters. Sort of a “middle-child” syndrome. They can’t really seem to go forward all that much and they can’t go back either. So they just sort of linger around there in that in-between zone. Too old and too established to go back to being the new kids (in the New Mutants’ case) or sidekicks (in the case of the Titans), and their darned predecessors just won’t step aside for them.

    I think another problem might be reader type-casting too. When Cannonball first joined the X-Men back in the ’90s, he just seemed completely out of place to me. I never warmed up to the idea of his being an X-Man. It’s not just because he was poorly written at that time either. I think it’s because I have it sledgehammered into my brain that he belongs alongside Dani, Shan, Rahne, and Roberto. When I see him alongside Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and other well-established X-Men, Sam just seems like a square peg in a round hole.

    I’ve felt similarly about Chamber and Husk serving as X-Men too, but not Jubilee. I guess it’s because Jubilee was an X-Man first while Chamber and Husk I still identify as “Generation X” kids.

  30. Prodigial says:

    “…I think it’s because I have it sledgehammered into my brain that he belongs alongside Dani, Shan, Rahne, and Roberto. When I see him alongside Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and other well-established X-Men, Sam just seems like a square peg in a round hole…’
    Totally with ya, dude.

  31. moose n squirrel says:

    The Editorial Nostalgia Wave hasn’t caught up with the Gen X kids yet, for one thing. Mostly, though, I figure a lot of Generation X’s original readership – which is to say, the folks most likely to be nostalgic about those characters – left superhero comics and never came back when the market imploded in the late 90s. Nostalgia for New Mutants is still around, of course, because those readers – the readers who’ve been around thirty or more years, the hardcore, never-say-die, in-it-until-the-last-comic-shop-is-boarded-up folks – are just about all that’s left.

  32. Brian says:

    “I have some doubts, also, about the stated new direction for the team: tying up the X-Men’s unfinished business. True enough, there are plenty of loose ends that need addressed, and there’s nothing wrong with using those as the springboard for individual stories, but surely the book needs to be about more than just that. Part of the problem with New Mutants, at least in its current incarnation, has always been to establish quite what the series is about.”

    You know what’s funny to me is that the Generation Hope series is actually using the concept that New Mutants really needs to have.

    If there’s going to be an X-book about the lead characters discovering and then making contact with new mutants, then shouldn’t that book be, um.. New Mutants?

    At least the title would make sense again.

  33. Jack says:

    It’s funny how, being a “young” (I’m in my early 20s, after all) X-men reader, I can’t really think of Cannonball as aything but, y’know, an X-Man – he was part of one of my favorite runs, Carey’s Adjectiveless (which was much better than Legacy, by the way – it was a book of crazy ideas and scope with amazing characterizations for its C list characters, not sixty issues of Talking Heads). Personally, I view the New Mutants as Marvel’s counterpart of DC’s nostalgia fixation: Surely these guys should be doing something else by now, and the junior team book should be about, y’know, the KIDS?

    But as the X-Kids get maimed and killed left and right (whatever happened to Surge, Dust, Prodigy, Mercury and whoever else from the academy x hasn’t been killed off yet?), they introduce YET ANOTHER generation of x-men… really, why should anyone care about Hope’s little bunch of newbies when it’s obvious that they’re nothing but future crossover fatalities?

    Hopefully, after Schism Carey’s book will be given more proeminence, instead picking up the pieces after crossovers.

  34. Prodigial says:

    “If there’s going to be an X-book about the lead characters discovering and then making contact with new mutants, then shouldn’t that book be, um.. New Mutants?”

    “…But as the X-Kids get maimed and killed left and right (whatever happened to Surge, Dust, Prodigy, Mercury and whoever else from the academy x hasn’t been killed off yet?), they introduce YET ANOTHER generation of x-men… really, why should anyone care about Hope’s little bunch of newbies when it’s obvious that they’re nothing but future crossover fatalities?…”

    Oh Em God! THAT’S what I’ve been saying all along!!! I don’t even bother with Generation Hope, the character is over-hyped-about and there was something poetic about her getting whoop’d by Dani in the last crossover.

  35. Brian says:

    There shouldn’t even be a book about “junior X-Men”, IMO. Ultimately the cast would just become defined by their relationships to each other, and then you end up with another New Mutants on your hands.

    As much as I don’t care for the direction of these books for the past few years with a horde of characters running through the books, the one thing it’s doing right in my mind, is that it has the “kid” characters like Megan working alongside the senior X-Men instead of relegated to some junior team.

    That’s the way Kitty Pryde was handled back in her youth. She was immediately integrated into the group and Claremont clearly established her relationships to Logan, Ororo, Kurt, and Peter.

    If it were up to me, I’d wash away the events of M-Day forward and go back to the school, with a slim cast consisting of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat, and finally Megan reintroduced as “Sprite.”

    I guess that should give you some indication of what era of X-Men I grew up on, lol.

  36. The original Matt says:

    Let’s look, shall we, to the Morrison run. To me, the defintive X-work in the last 20 years. Clearly defined main cast (the X-men proper). Cleary defined b-cast (the special class). Clear and not so clear defined villians. Genuine mystery.

    And most importantly, it all came together as a story.

    Sometimes I get the feeling that they just decide that starting next month, this will be your cast. We started the Morrison run with the core team. Slowly our B-list was introduced untill the special class was finally formed, and rather quietly. They weren’t formed by having to fill in for the superheroes, then standing united at the end of the issue declaring “We are the SPECIAL CLASS!!”

    In a Claremont world, with that cast, Scott would’ve left after Jean had died. The remains of the special class would’ve upgraded to the proper team. A new leader would’ve been appointed in Scott’s absence, be it someone stepping up to the plate, or someone like Storm being dropped in from another title and having to prove herself to her new charges that don’t want to except the new. Maybe Beast would’ve quit. The team dynamic would’ve changed, and it would’ve been birthed out of what just came before. It would have been organic. When we then got the Whedon run, we got some hand waving about it in the opening pages of the first issue, then the team just, they just went on as normal.

    The Morrison run, I believe would’ve provided a proper new starting point, even if Morrison didn’t stay on. We seem to reboot every couple of years now, which makes it hard to get worked up about anything. It’ll all be over in a minute. When the X-men reset at the start of the Jim Lee “era”, it was so long since we’d been there that it was new again. The character’s movements haven’t felt organic for some time now, and I think that is the big problem, and that’s why titles like “New Mutants” flutter about., and the Generation Hope characters feel like future cannon fodder. We’ve been trained to think that in 5 years, we’ll have the same basic cast, a few fringe characters that the creator at the time may happen to shine a light on, and a whole bunch of named bit-part characters to kill off to build up a threat we know won’t touch our core cast.

  37. The original Matt says:

    Oh, and regarding the scheduling…

    “Once again, the wise schedulers at Marvel bring us three X-Men titles in a single week (plus two second-tier X-books, one of which is a crossover, and one of which is the launch of a new direction). They certainly don’t make it easy for books to get noticed, do they? You’ve almost got to admire the way Marvel gratuitously make life harder for themselves.

    Also this week, DC kicks off its own summer crossover.”

    Is it possible that the idea is to deluge the market with new x-books, saturating their regular readers (which, face it, is most of the comic buying public) and not having them have enough disposable income left to try out the new big DC-event?

    In that respect, it would make some sense.

  38. Rich Larson says:

    It’s not impossible. However, DC seem to do the same thing with their Batman titles. I think it’s most likely that to sell a certain number of issues Marvel andf DC now need to release more titles. This is a horrible long term strategy. As a former X-Men completist there’s simply too much for me to try and buy/keep up with and so I don’t. Once fans begins opting out of one title there’s a real danger of them opting out altogether. I know I’m a lot closer to giving up the whole thing than I ever have been.

    Brian Hibbs does a column called Tilting At Windmills which goes into this in some detail this month. It’s worth taking a look at since I think he has a good sense of how comics sales are being done and why there are big problems.

  39. The original Matt says:

    Great article. Thanks for the tip off.

  40. Rich Larson says:

    My pleasure. Glad you liked it.

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