Hello again mutant lovers, Lilith here with your latest X-Men movie review. I have to admit, I’ve been a little surprised about the lack of hype and advertisement coming up to this movie’s release. I saw it in the theaters this week, and here’s my review just for you!
Join us once more in the hallowed halls of the Hellfire Book Club as we discuss the ins and outs of the X-Men. This time around Kang and Biff are joined once more by Rex Mason and Dutch Essex as well as newcomer Nick Nack Tabasco. The topic at hand? A fine question indeed! Tonight we discuss Grant Morrison’s early work on the New X-Men series. Enjoy!
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You know what’s missing from Marvel comics these days? It’s not just the feeling of permanence in the storytelling or the overall quality in the product they put out on a monthly basis. The notion that the creators are putting their best feet forward and not just taking monthly work to pay the bills while they publish their best stories as creator-owned works? Sure, that’s gone with the wind but there’s something else that used to be a staple of the industry, but seems to be gone for good.
The corner box illustration.
Awhile back, Martian Luthor Kang did an article about generally great writers who for whatever reason couldn’t hack it on X-Men titles. His inclusion of Brubaker piqued my interest and after reading many other reviews on his tenure with Marvel’s merry mutants I found that most people agreed with him. Generally speaking it seems this period is thought of with indifference or disgust. I haven’t read ALL of it yet, but with Marvel currently being in the midst of their far reaching Original Sin storyline I figured I’d go back and visit an earlier one by starting with the Deadly Genesis miniseries.
The X-Men family of comic series have varied greatly in quality over the years. They’ve gone from some of the most entertaining and poignant stories in the medium to unreadable dreck and back again. Like most readers in my generation, I cut my teeth on X-Men comics and that undoubtedly shaped my tastes regarding all types of fantasy. And naturally, many of the best and brightest authors in the industry are eager to take a shot at writing these characters, and while some of these new takes on Marvel’s Merry Mutants have redefined the characters for a new generation, other visions fell so very, very flat. And the remarkable aspect, of this creative quagmire is that some of the most spectacular failures in the history of X-Men comics have been at the hands of otherwise phenomenal writers.
There are a great many runs of the series that are either forgettable or contemptible, but nonetheless unsurprising. For instance, Scott Lobdell’s long tenure as writer of both core X-Men series in the 1990s. These issues, despite being published at the height of the X-Men’s popularity, are largely forgotten. And that was no accident. Any stories in his run that aren’t shunned are remembered only for their art. But no one is doing a spit-take over a shitty Scott Lobdell story. Lobdell is a master of ruination, he’s currently hard at work in his efforts to make Superman an irrelevant footnote over at DC and seems to be doing a wonderful job of it. Similarly, Chuck Austen’s runs on X-Men and Uncanny X-Men are often cited as the worst in the history of these series, but it’s not as if we had any reason to suspect they wouldn’t be. Everything else he had done up to that point had been unimpressive, so the clusterfuck he left behind at the Xavier Institute only stands to reason.
And that’s my point. When bad writers write bad stories, it doesn’t come as a shock. However, when otherwise acclaimed writers step up to the plate to work on the X-Men, they very often fail as well. These books are, in that sense, sort of akin to the Sword in the Stone. These capable knights, so to speak, approach this task with confidence and great expectations, and then shamble away in defeat a few months later. Today, I give a few of those enormous letdowns.
I’ve recently rekindled a love of the first series that brought me into comic books, the X-Men. Despite its faults I have nothing but love for the Claremont tenure on it; I find it both fascinating and innovative. He really had a grip on the core characters of that book and helped to build the foundation of so much of what was to come in the future. However in 1991, after 17 years on the book he wrapped up his time abruptly after a disagreement with editorial and rising star artist, Jim Lee. Uncanny X-Men became so massively popular that they introduced another book simply titled X-Men and split the teams. Claremont helped launch the new title but his last work for the franchise was with X-Men #1-3. What should have been his swan song was a decent but rushed and convoluted story involving the “death” of Magneto.
Claremont did return to various X-Men titles in the early 2000’s to less than stellar results. He complained that part of his issue was that there was so much continuity and events that happened since he had left it was almost impossible for him to write the kind of stories he wanted to. Finally in 2009 Marvel threw him a bone with X-Men Forever. The idea was that this series would continue directly after the events that happened on his last storyline from X-Men #1-3 and nothing that has happened since 1991 would have any bearing on it. He could for all intents in purposes pick up exactly where he left off.
Be forewarned, after the jump I’m going to spoil the hell out of the first five issues of this series. It’s virtually impossible to discuss anything about it without getting into the major details. So if you want to be surprised by this book should you read it, turn away now.