Due to circumstances beyond our control what was originally a preview article is now partially a review as well. For those books already released I will give you my impression thus far.
So…Death of X happened. In January I was dismayed by the lack of X titles showing up in the advances for 2017. Boy do we have an embarrassment of riches. Over the last week and a half we have learned a lot about the upcoming replacements. These give me a mix of feelings from “All New All Different? All Redux” to “Bring on the nostalgia!” I’m going to break these into 2 groups. First are the team books; X-Men Blue, X-Men Gold, Generation X, and Weapon X. Next are the solos Iceman, All New Wolverine, Jean Grey.
First up in no particular order is X-Men Blue.
Blue is perhaps summed up either by this quote from Jean, “Scott you’re not the boss of Iceman”. The fab five jump right into the deep end of the pool taking on and out Black Tom Cassidy and The Juggernaut as their maiden voyage. And for those of you worried that Cyclops might be catching a break watch Cain react to seeing the face of the man who murdered his brother. Magneto’s involvement as far as has been revealed makes sense and several paths are laid open for the team each one more consequence laden than the last.
Blue sees the time displaced original 5 back together for the first time since the Trial of Jean Grey under the pen of Cullen Bunn with art by Jorge Molina. Bunn who is no stranger to the X-Men (having scribed incredible runs on several titles) promised us surprises and boy is this book going to deliver! First off in what looks to me like the natural progression of young Scott trying to divorce himself from what older Scott became Jean is leading the team. And if that wasn’t enough their mentor is none other than Magneto! Now I’ve been reading the books long enough to remember him advising the New Mutants and the tragedy that drove him from the school to the Hellfire Club. That makes me eager to see what brings him back and what lessons he learned from the death of Cypher.
Next is X-Men Gold which is the one that I’m most nervous about since it’s upheaval after issue one. Ardian Syaf the penciller inserted references to a political movement in his native Malaysia parts of whose platform border on the anti semitic side of intolerant. As a result he was immediately removed from the book and his contract terminated. At the time of this writing a permanent replacement has not been named.
Again a book that soundly delivers on its promise. Kitty fresh from breaking up with another man named Peter takes command of a team and charge of the school. The school in the middle of Central Park. This is the public engagement of the Morrison era with the four-color feel of late 80s Claremont. But with that engagement comes a world that once again hates and fears not only the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants but the message from a scientific evangelist Lydia Nance. But on the plus side the interaction among the team members is at once familiar and accessible for new readers. Marc is taking them places.
Marc Guggenheim presents this book which promises a return to the feeling of the late 80s. Here we join Old Man Logan, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Rachel Grey (or Summers depending on which parent she’s mad at) being led by a newly returned Kitty Pryde. Marc promises a look at the uphill climb back from the brink for mutants which to me is where the X-Men work best but having one of the strongest Women of Color in comics replaced as leader by a White woman is potentially troublesome. That being said having Rachel on a team and presumably having to interact with versions of her parents now younger than her looks fascinating.
Next we have Generation X. This one is both a return to form and a maturation of character. Scripted by Christina Strain around Amiclar Pinna’s images this team operates out of the new Xavier Institute in Central Park. The first pitch I heard was, “Gold will be the A team. Blue the B. and Gen X are the rejects.” And I thought, “I loved that book 30 years ago when it was the Legion of Substitute Heroes.” But if I’ve learned anything it’s wait for the press release. This is one of the more diverse and possibly zanier teams in the new line. Ben Deeds a minor shapeshifter who was one of elder Cyclops’s more spectacular failures at recruiting, Eye-Boy (Just what it says on the tin) Lin LI codename Nature Girl (No Idea), Bling! one of the younger students from the Utopia days, a new Pychometer Nathaniel Carver, and that most adorable rabble rouser himself the Omega Level telepath Quentin Quire are being trained and led by their instructor Jubilee. This book has a very difficult needle to thread bringing in characters who came into their prime in the last 4 major eras of the X-Men. But I’m down for the ride.
Finally among the team books is Weapon X.
This one is two issues in and I can tell you very little. What we know is that a well funded secret organization using what looks like Donald Pierce tech is abducting Weapon Plus subjects (the Canadian Special Weapons program that created our protagonists at least partially) to replicate their abilities and have taken two. That’s pretty much all we know for sure. This book is very stingy with it’s secrets.
Greg Pak and Greg Land four very capable hands bring us this book that I didn’t expect even though I should have. Weapon X gives us the oddest lineup so far; Old Man Logan (his secondary mutation is multitasking), Sabretooth, Warpath from several iterations of X-Force, Domino (see above) and Lady Deathstrike (yes the Daredevil villain). Very little has been verified about this one except that as the title suggests Weapon Plus is back and scarier than ever. Having been watching what Dennis Hopeless and Jeff Lemire have done with these characters I’m very hopeful.
First up on the solo series is Jean Grey. Dennis Hopeless once again teams with Victor Ibanez to give the time tossed original X-Man her first ongoing. Jean reportedly gets a premonition of the returning Phoenix Force and knowing that lack of experience and preparation led to Dark Phoenix decides to get all the experience and assistance she can before it gets here. Hopeless promises a “Trials of Hercules style road trip” that takes advantage of the scope of the Marvel Universe. If his work on All New X-Men is any indication this book will be a worthy successor to the legacy of Claremont’s globetrotting and Starlin’s cosmic titles.
Next we have Iceman. Written by Sina Grace and drawn by Alessandro Vitti. This is the elder Bobby Drake who was outed in Uncanny #600 and finally has a solo book to figure out what that means. Now Marvel has had their fair share of criticism for trying to have LGBTQIA issues told by cishet writers but with an openly gay writer and editor (the very experienced Daniel Ketchum) this book should have the authentic voice those stories deserve. I haven’t heard much about the story direction other than some tales showing the reactions of some of his former girlfriends reacting to the understanding of who he is.
And continuing with no announced new creative team is All New Wolverine just in case Laura’s absence was making you worried.
So seven titles starting next Spring. And not a one that doesn’t look at least intriguing. Looks like Tyler is going to have his work cut out for him on the pull list.
What’s my takeaway so far? This is a reinvention that isn’t an event and therein lies it’s charm. We’re given new number ones that rebuild what the X-Men mean without reinventing the wheel or drowning in their hype.
This is MalKontent Blizzard signing off.