Welcome to X-ual Healing, the column where Bleeding Cool reads all the X-books every week and tell you what happened in them, so you don't have to. I'm your host, Jude Terror, a man who once wrote about comics all the time, but then, when there was just a tiny sliver of my soul left, bailed and now write about pro wrestling most of the time and comics only a little. But I still keep this column going for you, the beloved readers. You're welcome. Last week, Marvel published four X-books in the last week before the X of Swords crossover: X-Men #12, Excalibur #12, Hellions #4, and Marvel's Snapshots: X-Men #1. The way this column works is that this same intro will appear at the top of each recap, so if you already read this in one of the other recaps, you can just scroll on down to the recap portion. Also, way down at the bottom of this article, you'll find a table of contents type series of links to click to any of the other recaps of X-books that came out last week. Understood? Okay, great. Let's get down to business.
Comics Drama Alert!
Superstar artist and eternal drama magnet Rob Liefeld found himself the subject of Twitter ire last week when he commented on a tweet announcing a new creative team for New Mutants, saying that he wouldn't be swooping in to save the book again. A lot of people took it as an insult to Vita Ayala, the writer taking over the book with artist Rod Reis, but in fact, it's more likely a shot at Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brisson, as the so-far writers of a series that is allegedly in need of saving. In fact, if I were a betting man, I'd bet money that Liefeld, after reading the headline, didn't even click through to the article to learn who the new writer was. Rob's thought process pretty much goes like this: Is he feuding with DC right now? If yes, then everything DC is doing sucks. If not, then DC is doing great. Is he feuding with Marvel right now? If yes, then everything Marvel is doing sucks. If not, then DC is doing great. He's feuding with Marvel right now, and on top of that, he's had beef with Hickman's X-Men relaunch from the beginning, so there you have it.
As to a lot of criticism leveled at Liefeld in response to his comments, the one area that I think really misses the mark is the idea that his comics don't sell, citing sales statistics from the pre-pandemic era saying that New Mutants is currently selling more than his last X-book, Major X. But that's not really a fair comparison. At the time Major X was running, it was not only at the tail end of a decade of Marvel willfully reducing the stature of the X-Men to spite Fox for holding their movie rights, but also during a lame-duck period where we knew a big reboot was coming and nothing being published was really gonna matter in six months. In that environment, Major X was the second-highest selling X-men series, behind only Uncanny X-Men (and the Wolverine: Exit Wounds one-shot powered by Chris Claremont, Larry Hama, and Sam Keith). It sold roughly double what the Age of X-Man titles were selling.
If Liefeld were to get an X-book in the current environment, where the X-Men feel like Marvel's top priority, things would be different. The main X-Men title, back in February before the world went to shit, was the number two top-selling book in the Diamond (and the number three top-selling book). Uncanny X-Men, in June 2019, was the twenty-third best-selling title. It was selling about 50K, compared to the 92K X-Men #6 sold in February. Major X sold around 30K by issue #5 in June. The main Age of X-Man title, Marvelous X-Men, was selling 15K, half that of Major X. Whatever you may think of Rob Liefeld, whatever perfectly valid criticisms you may have about his social media usage, one that you just can't legitimately make is that his name and work doesn't sell comics. It does. If you gave Liefeld a Dawn of X book, it would probably sell pretty damn great. But he won't get a Dawn of X book, and that's not because it wouldn't sell. It's because he doesn't really work well with others, which is, really, the whole point of all this.
As for Vita Ayala on New Mutants, I think that's a great choice, and the book does need a jolt of creativity since it's already devolved into playing out the comics industry's personal vendetta against the media in its latest storyline. Ayala's Age of X-Man book, Prisoner X, you may recall, was lauded as the best Age of X-Man title here in this column. A multi-time Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week Winner. The series was about Bishop trapped in a psychic prison maintained by Legion, where any of the mutants residing in Age of X-Man who questioned X-Man's status quo were sent. It was a psychological horror title far better than the throwaway X-event it was a part of. So if sales were based on the quality of the storytelling in a comic, Ayala's New Mutants would probably get a big boost. Of course, that's rarely actually the case for books from Marvel, which focus more on event tie-ins, #1 issue reboots, and variant covers to affect sales.
Isn't being a comic book fan exhausting?
Speaking of event tie-ins and crossovers, X of Swords officially kicks off this week, and last week's X-books (soon to be recapped below, I promise), focused mostly on building up to it. But is X of Swords an essential crossover for understanding the X-books going forward? Jordan White answered that question, and I wrote about it here.
Oh, hey, and you should check out Greg Anderson-Elysee's latest Is'nana the Were-Spider comic on Kickstarter. I interviewed Greg about it here. I also got to read an advance copy and can honestly tell you that it's very good.
And now, without any further ado, on to the recaps!
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 for lovers of soap opera drama.
(W) Zeb Wells (A/CA) Stephen Segovia
HAVOK STANDS ALONE! Krakoa's resident rabble are up against the grand dame of the damned – the Goblin Queen, Madelyne Pryor! Talk about a return that could raise some havoc!
In Shops: Sep 16, 2020
Hellions #4 Recap
In the basement of Mister Sinister's Nebraska orphanage and cloning laboratory, Madelyne Pryor prepares to sacrifice Havok to demons in order to bring forth an army of demons in clone bodies. Meanwhile, the zombie clone Marauders are about to eat Greycrow and Nanny when Psylocke shows up with Wild Child, who she has dominated, to kick their asses.
As Madelyne stretches her power thin to fill Sinister's clone farm with demons, she loses her control over Arclight. Psylocke, Nanny, Orphan-Maker, and Wild Child head downstairs to stop Madelyne while Greycrow stays upstairs to put all of the clone Marauders out of their misery. Except, apparently, the Hellions somehow go upstairs, not downstairs. Greycrow gave Psylocke bad directions.
Down in the control room, Madelyne gloats about Havok being so in love with her he went nuts as soon as he saw her, but then she reads the truth… someone else broke Havok. She demands to know who (it was Matthew Rosenberg), but before she can find out, Greycrow attacks, shooting her through the heart and killing her. Havok blows up the orphanage in rage. The Hellions all have a laugh.
Next, we see Psylocke's post-mission report in a prose page. It would be senseless for me to basically retype all of that, so here you go:
But the most important part comes in a section at the bottom called "Human Casualties," where it's stated that Madelyne's resurrection is up for debate because it's unclear if she's her own mutant or just a clone of Jean.
Back on Krakoa, Psylocke, her new pet Wild Child, and Greycrow chill on a beach, while at Bar Sinister, Cyclops tells Havok that he couldn't convince the council to resurrect Madelyne. Havok cries. It's unclear whether Scott wanted Madelyne resurrected or not, though it could only possibly have spiced up his threesome with Jean and Wolverine. Also, Nanny threatens to kill Sinister for all the mutants he killed in his clone lab over the years. Sinister says he made up for it by bringing resurrection to Krakoa, making him the "daddy" of all resurrected mutants. Nanny says that just means she'll be making a lot of orphans.
Man, that's cold about Madelyne. I think I already ranted about this for the last issue of Hellions, but it's messed up that Krakoa will allow people like Sinister to live there, but Maddy gets the shaft. But then, what about X-23 (or if you want to argue recent retcons made her not really a clone, Honey Badger) and other accepted clones? Hellions remains a much better version of Fallen Angels, which isn't necessarily saying much. It's doing Havok dirty, but I do like the stuff with Nanny as well as the Psylocke/Greycrow pairing as the adults of the bunch.
Read more X-ual Healing here:
This post is part of a multi-part series: X-ual Healing X-Men Recaps for the Week of September 16th, 2020.