By AgeofHurricane 29 Comments
You're all familiar with this phrase, right ? The same phrase that set Mutantkind on an eventful episode scathed with tragedies, mysteries, blasphemies, retcons and the lot. The same phrase that was ushered by the Paris Hilton of Marvel Comi--Wanda Maximoff. Daughter of Magneto. Member of the Avengers. Yadda...yadda...yadda.
Not exactly all, though, it's also the sentence fragment (as described by Matt Fraction) which underhandedly obliterated the prior position of Mutants and the comics in which they were prominently featured in. It called for creative team mixes from hell, the birth of Hope Summers, the destruction of Academy X which was then turned into some sort of slasher flick thanks to Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, where every other arc, someone was killed or almost killed and, some could also argue that M-Day had some sort of an integral role to play amongst the infamous Storm/T'challa pairing, i'm personally not sure on how that works, but w.e.
Let's not forget, M-Day also undid all of Grant Morrison's hard and precious work (not before he killed our dearly beloved, Jean Grey).
It did a lot of things, really, Wanda Maximoff scorched the X-Franchise in ways they’d never anticipate. The damage had cut so deep, there has of yet to be any recovery, even till day.
There was a time, though, where things were actually pleasant. Where you could walk into your local CBS and not have that looming feeling in the back of your head, wondering where it all went wrong with what was such a wonderful title, or, why on Earth the big-guns decided to turn one of your favourite characters into a full-blown psychopathic killer, directly out of nowhere…or something awry like that.
Those days have in fact, left us. And now we’re in a world where if your name isn’t Wolverine and you are in no way shape or form, related to him, then you’re not guaranteed sh*t. We’re living in an age where if your favourite character, or, character you like, is not favoured by current Editorial, then expect nothing other than eternal limbo.
Let’s not forget that--death means nothing. Feel free to receive decapitation today followed by a luxurious roam in Dubai tomorrow. It's that real.
But then, just before (i'm talking a couple months before, or weeks, even) the Witch cast that one last spell, how was life ? What was the motion in which things went ? Were things better off, in the present consensus ?
Lemme take a looksie.
Uncanny X-Men - Claremont's renascence
It was late 2004 where Chuck Austen, the man who made the X-Men what they weren't, left Uncanny X-Men and rightfully. without hesitance or second thoughts, gave penmanship back to Chris Claremont, the man who made the X-Men what, as well as who, they are. I go on about how great and marvelous Chris Claremont is (as i should because without him we wouldn't have crap, or, at the very least, we'd have something else entirely, which could have been either good, bad or even better, but what we got was Claremont; the best) a lot, but then, it's somewhat clear that too much credit can be given, hopefully not in this case.
For those that are unfamiliar with this stint, here we have Storm's X-Treme Sanctions Executive team fully returning to the X-Fold, along with some new remembers (Rachel and Sam, Kurt wasn't an official member) while ditching some others behind (Rogue and Gambit). They were the XSE, in short, they did what the Uncanny Avengers haven't even begun to do: proactively solve and tackle Mutant/Human problems, formerly working in conjunction with X-Corporations, it was time to step out and actually do things. They were successful in all of their endeavors. You see, Storm and co. were already going places with this concept and sadly enough, it took 'the end of the world' for Captain America to realize that the situation needed dealing with. Very sad. From this brief tenure, we were given amazing stories, like the return of Psylocke, Mojo doing what Mojo does best, Talia Josephine popping prior to the whole of all that is turning white, the catastrophic Word's End, even more Psylocke and then Grey's End, a must read. All in all, it was Claremont also doing what he does best: writing good comics. It was the same sort of nostalgic feeling we'd remember from the earlier days, the familial feel, everyone sounded like themselves, nothing was, well, wrong, tbh. All was well and good...then BAM!
Astonishing X-Men - The Whedon saga
Not that i'm personally a die-hard fan of his run, but i do wholeheartedly respect Whedon's work. It was the flagship from 2004 (not Uncanny) and somewhat of a continuation of Grant Morrison's enthralling New X-Men. I believe the mandate and premise was to draw in aspects from the X-Men movie-verse added with some Whedon-Buffy and then make everything else look super heroic. It worked. For the entirety of his memorable as well as epic run. Truly Astonishing. We see the novel adventures of Katherine Pryde and co. the silent return of that metal dude called Colossus, Cassandra Nova (one of the greatest villains EVAR!) also returning to wrap up some unfinished business, simultaneously bullying Emma Frost in the process, also, Kitty denoting that Emma Frost reeks of...something vile. It held for controversial moments like all good X-Runs possess and then the occasional...weird part, but overall, all was well and good. Don't exactly recall Whedon focusing too much on M-Day fall out, which I’m sure he did, but i'll get into that if needed. But then he left, and the a new status-quo kicked in, and then...BAM!
New X-Men: Academy X - Untapped potential
Following their brief, but magnificent run on New Mutants Vol.2, the lawfully wedded duo of Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFillipis decided to kick things into high gear, introducing and writing to their hearts' content, some of the best X-Teens we're familiar with today. Wind Dancer, Wallflower, Prodigy, Hellion, Anole, Rocklisde, Cessily...it all came from them. During this era of fabulous, here we have an actual X-Title that revolves around the kids while simultaneously highlighting the many trials and tribulations that their teachers were going through (how...innovative). Well written, great character moments and teenagers acting like teenagers. This wasn't just any other X-Book, it was something different, for once. We were dealing with variant, relatable (to some extent) and normal problems on an issue-by-issue basis, things were as mellow as they could be during the early days, but it was quite clear that towards the end of their tenure, they could have only gotten better...enter M-Day + Kyle and Yost. Setting the stage for a location which would inevitably suffer a lot. BAM!
"Live, Scott. Live" , my a$$.
And shortly after that Editorially Mandated mess, it was one 'status-quo' changing event/story-arc after the other. The Heroic Age might as well have been the Heroic Year if it was even remembered. Axel and co. decided to use the infamous spotlight stealing trio of Emma/Cyclops/Wolverine to push sales and represent the X-Men when needed, we had Matt Fraction picking up where Chuck Austen left off, destroying what was once a mighty franchise, reducing Emma Frost to nothing more than Cyclops' blonde little 'pick me up' snorting the word "darling" anytime she had the chance, while executing game-changers like "Utopia", which featured Norman Osborn making a joke out of the entire US population (funny cause it's true :P), to make things seem "interesting". And to top that all off, we had Greg Land predominantly on art duties, the joy (of having Emma Frost consistently look like a delighted wh*re with something stuck up her arse). Uncanny X-Men as a title was nothing more than a stagnant joke, having lost its masthead to Carey's Legacy, which was focusing on ROGUE of all people.
Astonishing X-Men...yeah, it wasn't really that bad, but it was nothing as groundbreaking as Whedon's original run, nothing had flown. Then, Marvel decided to use that X-Title as some sort of promotional gig, where up and coming writers/artists could showcase their talents in hopes of being liked by the current demographic in order to score royalty cheques, not exactly sure how that turned out.
New X-Men, as i said before, turned into a slasher flick, that, and just another X-Title. The writing was good and all, but everyone decided to up and die at every move. Kyost thought they were making tactical ploys by initiating mass teen murders every now and then, while immersing readers in some sort of captivating horror, it worked for some, didn't work for others. IMO, that was the absolute worst. What's the point of a series where leading characters are subsequently offed/brought to the brink of death ?
Please note: the duo further carried out these acts of masochism on the children within the pages of an acclaimed X-Force.
Schism, Regenesis, Gillen, AvX and all that jazz.
And with all that said and done concerning what were the main X-Titles (excluding Milligan's X-Men, because, really, it doesn't exactly bring a point), let's head back to what's more or less the present.
Regardless of if the majority of fans were complaining about horrible Greg Land photo-tracing techniques intertwined with mortifying Matt Fraction writing-techniques, somebody was still buying the sh*t out of Uncanny X-Men. A good thing for most, because that meant Kieron Gillen could join...................................................................................... :) ?
Yeah, not exactly a die-hard fan of his work, he's a good writer and did good things for them, i'll give the majority of you who (most) feel the need to legitimately like him for reasons that are just beyond me at this moment, that, but i won't be conforming to this asinine hysteria (considering his work on Generation Hope was poorly received, that's just funny). He's just not as 'OMFG GILLEN, HE'S THE BEST! I LOVE THAT GUY, HAD ONE OF THE GREATEST X-RUNS IN HISTORY, RIGHT BEHIND MORRISON AND CLAREMONT. HE'S UP THERE, MAN' as people make him out to be. In fact, i found the entirety of his Uncanny run to be a complete bore and villainized. There, i said it. Come. At. Me. Bro.
Moving on, somehow the events of FIS and Marvel's Heroic Age had something to do with a split amongst the X-Men, not exactly going to delve into the blueprints for that because we're all aware of how forced and contrived it was (especially that silly Prelude series, which had the X-Men preparing to sh*t their pants for nothing), in favor of Aaron's ff, Wolverine. It was a nice change, though, in terms of who went where, that is, even if at this point, Wolverine was everywhere--before this, the X-Titles were domineered with himself, Cyclops and Emma, now, after years of endless suffering, we could go back to how things were before the consequences of Wanda's final spell had come into fruition. We were getting titles with (for the most part) distinguishable rosters and (for the most part) good creative teams. On the exterior, things looked rosy, but, they really weren't.
Gillen's Uncanny X-Men - Critically acclaimed from before it hit the shelves, with nothing to show for other than Sinister prancing around with his automatons. The Extinction Team failed to live up to their mandate, having their antagonists deride them at every turn by either: forfeiting the battle, allowing themselves to succumb or none of the above, and the E-Team just down right failed. With issue 1 Gillen set up this world-class vision for them all, for Cyclops' entire side, but it was that undying obsession for Sinister that damned them all, imo. Trying to shift the focus from villains to the actual members of his run, far too late down that off-beat path. For me it was a mess, even though the vocal many enjoyed that...lol.
Gischler's X-Men - No substantial stories or character development, except for if you were Jubilee. Liked him bringing my fave character (Ororo Munroe) into the forefront, but this title was doomed. Nothing much to say.
DNA's Mutants - Lol. Pretty much the same thing. It was Dani's show and everything was just so flipping boring :/. They removed likeable characters from the cast, to make way for characters that they did nothing of import with--X-Man, someone who suffered the most out of their run, but alas, that title like the three above, are now cancelled.
Generation Hope - I for one liked everything until Idie left, but i guess the real problem was that it, too, failed with whatever it was supposed to do, even if it was headlined by 'OMFG GILLEN'.
Wolverine and The X-Men - Too much to say, not enough time. This too was/is a title that the majority of X-Fans feel/felt the need to legitimately adore...for reasons that are still beyond me. The title was nice for like, the first three issues, then everything fell to crap, and do not blame AvX. This title is sh*t, no matter how some of you would like to spin it (lol jk). The art was what was carrying this title along, and by art i mean Bachalo, not sure why they got him off for Nick Bradshaw, who's art is...lol. Still wondering how this is a liked "title", everything about it just screams "cringe". Also failed in being a title where you could see the "kids", because you don't, and if you do, they're not the kids we're familiar with and some other kids are just getting their own fair treatment of Aaron's character-assassination. Idie is indoctrinated, Broo's been turned into a mindless monster as opposed to the cute little nerd he was before Aaron got his dirty mits on 'im, Evan has better things going for him in UXF, all things considered, Quire's just annoying (not as good as Morrison's or Wood's) and these new characters are sh*t. Eye-guy and Shark Girl, yeah, no. The novelty had long ago worn off. It's just not funny any more.
Ah'm Rogue - Legacy...Legacy, Legacy, Legacy. Rogue's journey and that's all he wrote. 50% consisted of Rogue's episodes, contemplating as to whether she should choose Gambit or Magneto, eventually choosing herself (selfish b*tch). Other half was nasty-wordy--stuff. Like, the type of Claremont wordiness (that Aaron also tries to pull off) but uninteresting and tiresome. Not exactly sure who gave two-sh*ts about Weapon Omega and his boyfriend, Mimic, considering after their debut arc, they were nowhere to be seen. Lol. What was the point ? Had potential, but no. Just doomed.
Remender's X-Force - Also not a die-hard fan but if there's an X-Title that deserves a reward for fabulous stories/writing/art/plot/characterization month in and month out, it's this one. Remender's X-Force is truly worthy of CB praise.
(Yeah, i'm still here)
So, like, after these titles had their respective Post-Schism journeys, Brevoort, Lowe and the rest of the "big-guns" stomped through with Avengers VS. X-Men. The worst cross-over/story-arc/event/convoluted mess i (and plenty of others) have ever laid eyes upon. Messy, messy, MESSY stuff. Something that also brought in a new status-quo, enter, Marvel NO!
Marvel NO! The reign of Bendis and a recollection
And how do i go about this one, Brian Michael Bendis, harbinger of death and his own continuity (lol Oxymoron, Bendis doesn't DO continuity), taking over the entire X-Line (hopefully excluding the consecutive X-Force titles) ? It's a possibility most would prefer to wholeheartedly avoid, but it's happening, here and now. His is the name that surely strikes fear into the hearts of men. With another hastily contrived plot, he's bringing the O5 back from the past to their inevitable future, all in time for Marvel NO!
From like, 2004 to 2012, things have changed, drastically. The X-Men're in positions they'd never dream to be in. We readers are looking at a period that still feels surreal (at least for me, anyways). Our favorite characters and for some, idols, have been hated, feared, crapped on and wiped out time and again...
But now ? Some people (idiots) may like the ideas of having titles like ANXM, Uncanny X-Men (focusing on the Brother Hood of Evil Mutants), CaXF and Psylocke's UXF, and whatnot...but contrary to how things were back then...things are really bad.
- Professor Xavier is dead.
- Wolverine no longer possesses a character.
- Cyclops has been f*cked over so much it's not even funny anymore. In a position that appeals to an unhinged many.
- And worst of all...Jean Grey is a teenager.
I mean yeah, you get what you're given, but like, these are profuse amounts coming from a source that honestly don't know what they're doing anymore. The direction in which things might take, from a particular perspective are quite...scary. imo.
So like, take a seat, grab some Kleenex and Tetley's, and take a loooooooooong think as to how the times have changed. Happy with the current direction, all things considered ? Has everything been a bit too much to handle ? Will you invest in any of this ?
And coming to the end of this, well, tl;dr, my panel of the year -