Six X-books hit stores last week: New Mutants #4, X-Force #4, Marauders #4, Excalibur #4, Fallen Angels #4, and one surprise book no one was expecting. As a Christmas present to myself, and since I've written over 3,000 words about them collectively (but get paid per article, not per word), I'm going to publish each recap as an individual article, and then reveal the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week at the end. Will X-ual Healing continue that way into the new year? Maybe. Maybe not. They'll collectively get more clicks this way though.
In any case, if you don't feel like waiting for each article, just wait until the end of the day and read the finale. Now, let's get on with the show…
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, but thanks to a corporate merger and a line-wide relaunch, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
I recapped six X-books this week, and here's what I thought about them:
New Mutants #4
New Mutants is making a good case for being one of if not the best Dawn of X book. The younger mutant characters have a lot less baggage than the older ones, which makes simple stories like this one feel fresher than, for example, the umpteenth version of X-Force (not that X-Force is bad). The backstory given to the bad guys this issue is appreciated as well. Instead of being yet another anti-mutant militia group, these guys have a more interesting motivation, partially justified due to the exploitive capitalism that victimized their country but becoming the exploiters themselves looking to make a profit off the situation. Drunk Boom Boom could be compared to Drunk Kate Pryde over in Marauders, but Kate has previously had it together for a long time and is just going through some stuff, while Boom Boom has always kind of been a mess. All in all, New Mutants is paced well, doesn't feel too much like a retread of past, better X-Men stories, and features a great cast.
Most of this issue was spent establishing the charter of the X-Force team, though it feels a bit like overexplaining since we knew this is what the book would be about before it even launched. We're four issues in and we've already had Xavier die and come back to life, new villains introduced, and a new team formed… but it still feels like it's moving a little slow. Pacing complaints aside though, the team does have a great dynamic and several mysteries have been seeded. Who are the group or groups behind the attacks? What are they doing with all of the data they're gathering? And what is Forge making for Wolverine? And though we know that Kid Omega and Wolverine can be resurrected easily, it was still a pretty badass way to kill them off at the end of the issue. And death really hasn't had much meaning in the X-books for decades, but at least now there's some logic behind that.
Marauders kind of started out as the drunk Kate Pryde bender book, but it's evolved into a sort of mutant Game of Thrones with all of the Hellfire Club intrigue. Killgore's rival inner circle make good villains for this book, and it was nice to see Storm letting loose and showing why she's one of the most powerful mutants around. Marauders may be the most humorous X-book, but not in a way that detracts from the story.
I was glad to see the sort of frantic pace return in this issue. Excalibur has been a comic where the most "stuff" happens from issue to issue compared to the other X-Books. In just four issues, off the top of my head, I can say that Betsy Braddock became the new Captain Britain, Rogue entered her sleep state and has some kind of primal connection with Krakoa, Gambit is dealing with his inability to protect his wife, Apocalypse is doing good (though his true plans are yet to be fully revealed), Jubilee is seeing more action than she has in years, Shogo is a dragon, Brian Braddock is under an evil trance, Pete Wisdom is back, the team has traveled to Otherworld and back, established a new base of operations, and become officially sanctioned by the U.K. government, both Morgan le Fay and Coven Akkaba have been established as serious antagonists, and Rictor has a whole new outlook on life and costume. When you think about it, a ton of stuff has happened here, and we're still technically in the initial "setup" story arc. That's value for your money, and why Excalibur is probably my favorite Dawn of X book.
Fallen Angels #4
I can't really figure out what's going on in this comic half the time. The art is murky and the plot is murky, and that's on top of the massive character regression of X-23 to make her Psylocke's sidekick and protege. An AI villain isn't exactly a fresh concept, but it could have potential if it wasn't executed mainly through pseudo-intellectual mumbo jumbo. I don't want to hate Fallen Angels because I've been a big fan writer Bryan Hill's work at DC, but it just doesn't work here, for whatever reason, and it's definitely the worst of all the X-books.
Gwenpool Strikes Back #5
This series has been a lot of fun and clever in a lot of ways, but this ending was so unexpected and yet perfect that it took things to a whole new level. I must confess I didn't read any Gwenpool comics before West Coast Avengers so I'm not sure how her longtime fans feel about it, but I'd definitely consider myself a fan after this book and I hope we see Gwenpool integrated more into the X-Men universe going forward, preferably in the promised Leah Williams X-book we are supposed to get in Dawn of X Wave 2. David Baldeon's work was great in Domino and I'm glad he never left the X-books, even if we didn't realize it until this issue's shocking reveal. A satisfying end to an entertaining series.
Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week
This week, we recapped six X-Books: New Mutants #4, X-Force #4, Marauders #4, Excalibur #4, Fallen Angels #4, and Gwenpool Strikes Back #5. And with the exception of Fallen Angels, all of them had their merits, but latecomer to the X-books, Gwenpool Strikes Back, has to take the top spot this week. Congratulations to the creative team for becoming the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week.
- 10/16/2019: X-Men #1
- 10/23/2019: Marauders #1
- 10/30/2019: Excalibur #1
- 11/6/2019: New Mutants #1
- 11/13/2019: X-Men #2
- 11/20/2019: Marauders #2
- 11/27/2019: X-Force #2
- 12/04/2019: Excalibur #3
- 12/11/2019: New Mutants #3
- 12/18/2019: Gwenpool Strikes Back #5
There may or may not be a column next week, since there are no official X-Books, but will be something X-related in Incoming. There will, however, be the annual Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Year Awards coming up in the near future. Post your thoughts on last week's X-books down in the comments.
Read more X-ual Healing here: