Brains for Dinner, Brains for Lunch, Empyre: X-Men #3 for Brunch [XH]
We've got three X-Men books that hit stores last week to recap here in X-ual Healing, North Korea's favorite weekly X-Men recap column (go ahead, prove me wrong). Last week saw the release of X-Men: Empyre #3, Marauders #11, and X-Force #11. And I'm gonna tell you all about everything that happened in them. But first, a little something on last week's big and depressing news.
So DC Comics finally imploded, huh? It was the big news story of the week, but I tend to look at it more as the inevitable conclusion of decades of greed, mismanagement, and shortsightedness more than a shocking upheaval of the superhero comics industry as we know it. After all, before making my well-timed exit from the world of comics punditry to write full time about a friendlier and more mature storytelling medium, pro wrestling, I spent nearly ten years predicting exactly this sort of thing would happen and warning the industry to make changes before it was too late.
It's obviously very sad that so many people lost jobs, not just at DC but across Warner Bros as a whole. It also busts a major myth about the comics industry, that it is "recession-proof." I'm reminded of an article published about ten years ago by AOL, during the last major financial crisis, which aged very poorly: "Comic Book Heroes Aren't Just Bulletproof… They're Recession Proof." The idea in that article was that because comics provide a cheap form of entertainment, people will not stop buying them during a recession. In fact, with the world messed up, people need their entertainment even more.
And it was a sound theory, at one time. Superhero comics, after all, were born out of The Great Depression itself. But the problem is that comics are no longer a form of cheap mass-market entertainment, and no, that's not a commentary on "politics." Political messaging has always been a thing in superhero comics. Rather, in my educated opinion, it's purely a factor of price and value. Superhero comic books are no longer entertainment for the masses, an ongoing soap opera of heroes in tights beating the crap out of each other while engaging in interpersonal drama and romance, the kind of thing this column exists to celebrate. Instead, they're luxury items, priced obscenely high compared to the amount of time it takes to read one and the volume of decompressed story contained therein.
Comics now cost four times what they used to as a factor of price vs. inflation. And on top of that, a story that could once be had in a single issue is now spread out across five, written for the trade. That means you're paying twenty times as much money for the same amount of story. That's not entertainment for the masses. It's entertainment for only those with the most disposable income, something very short in the world right now.
The industry choosing to shut down for several months rather than taking advantage of digital distribution also helped to kill the habit-based sales that have sustained the industry for so long. Marvel and DC have spent so long concentrating on bilking more money from their existing (and dwindling) customer base through short-sighted tactics. Tactics like variant covers, super-mega-crossover event tie-ins, number one issue reboots, and other gimmicks at the expense of fostering long-term growth by appealing to a wider audience that the industry's immunity to a recession was completely eroded.
Combine that with the ever-increasing mega-mergers of global media conglomerates, and you know who's going to pay the price when the other shoe drops: the people doing the actual creating. Of course, the comics industry screwing over its creatives while corporations get rich isn't some new phenomenon in the comics industry or an effect of the pandemic. It's as much the heart and soul of the industry as capes and tights. Just ask Alan Moore. Just ask Jack Kirby.
Nevertheless, as long as Marvel keeps making them — and who knows how long that will be — I'll keep recapping my beloved X-Men comics. Let's get on with it, shall we?
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities. Still, thanks to a corporate merger, a line-wide relaunch, and Jonathan Hickman's giant ego, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
EMPYRE X-MEN #3 (OF 4)
(W) Ed Brisson, Vita Ayala, Zeb Wells (A) Andrea Broccardo (CA) Eduard Petrovich
ALIENS! PLANT-MEN! MUTANTS! ZOMBIES! OLD WOMEN! DEMONS! EXPLOSIONS!
These issues have more than you ever dreamed to ask for. And then some.
In Shops: Aug 12, 2020
Empyre: X-Men #3 Recap
Things aren't getting any better on the island of Genosha as Empyre: X-Men #3 kicks off. The island was already home to an invading force of plant-based aliens, The Cotati, and a newly resurrected horde of mutant zombies. But as we see in the opening scene of this issue, now the dead plants are rising up as zombies themselves.
They're all headed to the big seedpod dome that has formed around a living group of X-Men, Hordeculture, and Cotati. They make a hole in the dome and begin entering.
Inside, Krakoa's entire legion of telepaths have arrived on the scene. Joining forces with the power of Krakoa, the psychic X-Men battle the Cotati. Meanwhile, back on Krakoa, Magik brings Opal of Hordeculture to meet with The Beast. Oh, that's a great idea. Introduce the evil eco-terrorist lady to the egomaniacal X-Men scientist with a penchant for repeatedly nearly destroying the world with his arrogance. In any case, they are going to work together to come up with a serum to kill the Cotati seedpod.
Explodey Boy, the first mutant zombie we met back in issue #1, cuts a deal with Multiple Man. The zombies will kill all the plant people in exchange for being allowed to eat all the meat from dead Multiple Man dupes that the Cotati have littered the area with. He explodes, killing a bunch of Cotati.
Back on Krakoa, Beast, and Opal succeed in their mission. But on Genosha, Magik and her telepath army are about to be overwhelmed. Nightcrawler teleports into the fray with some weedkiller and a sword and starts cutting down zombies and opening a hole in the seed pod. Magik teleports around looking for the source of all the troubles. She finds the Scarlet Witch's staff and grabs it, transforming into the Darkchylde.
Aside from that, everything is going great. Zombies are feasting on Multiple Man parts, and the X-Men and Hordeculture now have a means of escape. Unfortunately, Magik has now declared herself the Zombie Queen of New Genosha. Oh, actually, that's not the worst part. Zombies have made their way to the seedpod's brain (the seedpod has a brain) and have begun eating it, infecting it.
Now the whole thing is a zombie, and it births a gigantic plant zombie monster.
All of this will be wrapped up next issue, presumably with no lasting consequences, because that's what super-mega-crossover event tie-ins do. Still, it's been… fun, I guess. Stupid, but fun. More stupid than fun. But fun nonetheless. Five dollars worth of fun? Well, no. But that's comics these days.
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