alright, so, this isn't really directed at anyone specifically, but I can't help but notice a general trend of arbitrary and sometimes even hypocritical criticism in regards to topics on this forum. In the interest of addressing views that I regard as overly or arbitrarily critical, I submit these appeals to the following common opinions.
This is an appeal to a few different arguments such as this isn't what the X-men do or are about, the book(s) or team(s) used to be better when, or criticisms of that nature. I usually just think these are funny because, in regards to X-men comics, I know very few people who have read as many or been reading for as long as I have. I don't say that to claim any authority on the subject so much as to point out how arbitrary this distinction is.
It seems like every X-men fan (myself included, I guess), has this idealized version of what the X-men really are or aren't, or should or shouldn't be, based on which stories they've read that they liked or didn't like. That's all obvious, sure, but it's when people use this as a basis for criticism that I think it's funny. These types of criticisms generally play on the assumption that one's own personal favorite stories present the true versions of the characters, and that the stories that they don't like are in some way less true or relevant because of it.
Besides the fact that most people haven't read most X-men stories, and that they shouldn't have to read them all to enjoy any one of them, these arguments assume an authority which is irrelevant over a level of overall story consistency that has virtually no historical basis. The stories of the X-men have always been a serialized, collaborative form of entertainment which has never made any claim to thematic or tonal consistency, let alone provided it. Yes, there are great X-men stories that I would count among my favorite examples of either art or literature, there are some that are less good, and there are some that don't interest me at all; but, ultimately, the best X-men stories are really only a stones throw from the worst, and I feel the distinctions are largely based on personal taste more than any substantial criteria.
This is sort of one example of the sort of thing I was talking about above. The idea that whoever is making X-men comics now is less interested with making them good than anyone else who's ever made them. That the creators of X-men comics have sold them out or become creatively bankrupt, only interested with turning a fast buck and not creating something of lasting quality. Besides the fact that we can never really know the interests or intent of the creators, these arguments presuppose that that has any baring on the quality of the book, which is equally impossible to determine. Some examples of this would be:
They only brought the original X-men back to appeal to new readers, with no regard for continuity or long-time fans. Is this true, and does it matter? Even if we assume that the original 5 X-men are more recognized by or appealing to new fans, which I've personally seen no evidence of, surely whoever's in charge must realize that the people already buying their books are the ones most likely to buy more. This argument assumes not only that appealing to new readers is somehow negative, but that the creators would be so much more interested in making money (than being creative) that they would not care if people stopped buying the books? See how that doesn't even make sense?
Or that they've brought the O5 back instead of having to do something new, ie; with new characters or the ones most recently featured, and that doing so has made the story ridiculously convoluted. I'm not even sure where to start with this one. Any of you guys ever hear of a book called X-Factor? To get the original 5 X-men back together for that one they brought Jean Grey back from the dead, actually retroactively writing her out of her most classic role in The Dark Phoenix Saga, got Cyclops to abandon his wife and newborn child, and made all of the Beast's fur fall out (and then later grow back). I'm not sure what the fan reception would be to this these days, but as far as I know, it's gone on to become one f the classic X-men runs of the 80's, beloved by generations of fans, despite being basically the same idea (from a marketing perspective) as what All-New X-Men is criticized for.
But time travel is stupid, contrived, and messes up continuity! I can't even argue against this sort of thing, really, because it's really just a matter of personal taste. People will say that time travel is convoluted or whatever, but have no problem with interstellar travel. It happens all the time that the X-men travel to other solar systems, which even at the speed of light, should take years. They go faster than that? okay, but they still come all the way back too, and they get back a week later or something.. how is that not time travel? even if it's not, how is it any less contrived?
As for continuity, the importance seems to be pretty relative. It seems like some people think it's really important, like a new story has the power to ruin an old one or something. It really seems like there could be a whole thread on how significant continuity is to enjoying a story, but with specific regard to the X-men, I'll just point out that since the continuity has been so retroactively rewritten already, several times and in several continuities, it just seems arbitrary to use that as an argument for why something should or shouldn't happen, especially once it already is.
I actually had a few more examples of arguments that I find to be arbitrary, such as those based on the concept of character consistency, status quo verus change, and fan entitlement, but I feel like I've been talking too long already.
What do you guys say?