Since this is my column I’m going to take this opportunity to be selfish and talk about something that’s been bugging me about X-men continuity for awhile now. I’m not referring to the fact that Brian Michael Bendis saw fit to reinstate time travel for these characters, nor the fuzzy continuity that the time travel created—if you’ve read classic X-men you know they go to time traveling at the drop of a hat, often for no better reason than they’re having a bad day. What I’m concerned with is the villanizing of Cyclops.
Quick prologue, the story arc immediately preceding this current run of “All New X-men” was “Avengers vs. X-men”. Here’s the rundown of events:
-Oh no, the Phoenix Force is heading towards Earth. What will we do? Arrest the X-men!
-What? The X-men didn’t like that and because of science we’ve empowered five of the X-men with the Phoenix Force. ~*Comic books*~.
-Blah, blah, blah, Cyclops killed Professor Xavier and crapped his pants.
And everyone hated him, Wolverine especially so. The one thing everyone harped on was, “It doesn’t matter that you were possessed by a galactic deity, you are still responsible for murdering Xavier.” Really? Really?! Let me break this down for a second. Wolverine is brainwashed so often he has a punch card and he murdered more people than Tuberculosis. He was also forced to become Death for Apocalypse, and his job wasn’t to cull wheat, it was people. He wasn’t even the first to be Death. Who here remembers Warren Worthington’s run as Death? Or Gambit’s? Also? Didn’t Professor Xavier combine with Magneto to become Onslaught, an entity that murdered everybody? And Jean Grey, who is absolutely idolized, the golden girl who could do no wrong—didn’t she also get possessed by the Phoenix Force? And then murder everybody? Wait, there’s also Captain America, who just finished defending Bucky in his murder trial with the defense, “He was under mind control?”
I’m completely okay with heroes becoming villains. Mark Grayson technically became a villain when he decided to team up with Dinosaurus. His reasons were completely legitimate and it was a logical progression for his character. It was a new and interesting chapter in his life that really engaged the reader. With new direction comes renewed interest. However, when the rest of the universe is pants-on-head dumbasses about the affair, every conflict feels like chewing on rocks. All of which is such a disappointment when you consider that the art for this book is so pretty.
Usually a comic for me can’t be saved by the art, ruined certainly, but resuscitation is unusual (ask me about my list of artists that are book killers some day). Stuart Immonen draws some of the most intensely beautiful art that I have ever seen. There is no qualifier for that statement. I didn’t say the best comic book art; it is art. When I say I don’t see eye to eye on Bendis’ creative vision, that’s a polite understatement. But Immonen’s art is so breathtaking that I can see past the story. I’m serious, I buy this book just for the art. Everything else just makes me angry. It doesn’t matter that a lot of the characters are developing in new and interesting ways, they’re the wrong ways. If you dislocated your shoulder but didn’t set it back, it too would develop in new and interesting ways but you would be very unhappy with the doctor that decided to take that creative direction.
It’s a shame that this comic did not turn out better. The promises it made sounded so wonderful. It was supposed to be a return to the original team from the sixties. The tragedy these characters had to endure was supposed to transform these characters into fantastic new iterations of themselves. Somehow these promises were delivered and yet they were wrong. The aspect it pulled from the sixties was the fact that the characters were teenagers, whiny, arrogant, misinformed teenagers. And the characters only transformed into angrier jerks—except for Beast, who transformed into a weird ape-fish… I don’t even know. All in all, I still buy this book, but I’m mad at myself for doing so.