Fact: Chris Claremont is the greatest comic book writer of all time. Fact: Marvel pays Chris Claremont a retainer to be a Marvel Exclusive comic book writer. Fact: Chris Claremont has not written an ongoing series or even a mini-series for Marvel since the 2014 Nightcrawler series ended.
These facts may not seem to add up, but they're all true nonetheless. A while back, we suggested that an Uncanny X-Men relaunch would work well as a weekly comic with a team of writers and artists drawn from the current X-traneous X-titles, with Claremont leading the team. We got the ensemble creative team on a weekly book, but no Claremont.
Claremont has written single stories here and there, most recently a story in the X-Men Wedding Special and the X-Men Black: Magneto One-Shot, and he's set to write a story in the Merry X-Men Holiday Special. Marvel is even reprinting an old story by Claremont and Jim Lee in 2019. But when it comes to an ongoing series, or a regular writing gig of any kind, we've got nothing. This is despite Marvel Editor-in-Chief Akira Yoshida promising Claremont fans that our long wait for more Claremont stories would soon be over back in August.
"With Chris, we will be seeing more from Chris in the X-Men Universe in the near future," Yoshida swore. "I grew up on those stories, I love Chris, and he has a lot of things he still wants to say with those characters. We are gonna let him tell more tales very soon."
But when Bleeding Cool's Madeline Ricchiuto asked about it directly at the X-Men panel at New York Comic Con earlier this month, X-Editor Jordan White responded with a disappointing "He's great, I love working with him, but we have nothing to announce."
So why is Marvel giving us the Claremont runaround? They're already paying the guy anyway, they clearly don't want to let him write for somebody else. So why not put him on a book at Marvel, preferably one where they'll leave him alone to build the kind of momentum and long-running plotlines that made his original X-Men run the greatest of all time?
We can think of a few explanations. We don't know the specifics of Claremont's deal, but perhaps Claremont's retainer is cheap enough for Marvel to keep him from writing elsewhere, but paying him more for a monthly book is still out of the budget. That seems unlikely though since superstar artist Rob Liefeld recently revealed that the budget on the X-books has increased now that Marvel is getting the movie rights back. Another possibility is that Marvel is planning a Claremont ongoing but they just aren't ready to announce it yet. We can only hope that's the real reason, because the state of the X-Men books is better than its been in a long time, and with the Uncanny relaunch, an X-Force reboot, and even the 2019 return of Marvel Comics Presents (which itself originally launched with a Claremont-written Wolverine story back in 1988), it looks like things are only going to get better in the months to come.
But what could be a renaissance for mutants akin to the early 2000s will be forever spoiled if Marvel continues to hold our beloved Claremont hostage, neither letting him write for anyone else nor letting him write something regularly for Marvel. Do the right thing, Marvel. Give us the ongoing Chris Claremont comic we deserve! That way we can move on to the next phase of our plan: demanding an ongoing X-book by Louise Simonson!
In the comments, post your suggestions for what title Claremont should write when Marvel finally gives in to our demands.
And now, let's see what's happening in the X-Men books this week.
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 with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
X-Men Black: Mojo #1
(W) Scott Auckerman, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler (A) Nick Bradshaw, Geraldo Borges, Andre Araujo (CA) J. Scott Campbell
THE SPINELESS SHOWMAN TAKES CENTER STAGE!
That's right – that most successful producer ever to pack the cross-time airwaves, the man himself, MOJO, has yet another plan in place the boost his ratings at the X-Men's expense! And I'm sure he would say it's THE MOST IMPORTANT COMIC BOOK YOU'LL EVER READ!
PLUS: Part 2 of X-MEN BLACK: APOCALYPSE!
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
X-Men Black Mojo offers a pretty amusing take on the classic X-Men villain, starting off with Mojo complaining about change and diversity in comics, satirizing the real-life fans who do the same. Mojo, who has been stuck on Earth since the Mojo Worldwide crossover (read it on Marvel Unlimited), has a plan to destroy all the new X-Men while the classic team is off on a mission, but first he tells Major Domo that he's got a reconnaissance mission to embark on first. Actually, he throws on a hat and trenchcoat and heads to a local coffee shop to awkwardly hit on a woman he's crushing on (because she told him off earlier, which he found attractive).
Mojo strikes out, but he then runs into Glob Herman, who befriends him as the pair walk around the city, with Mojo even stepping in to save a kid from being run over by a car. Unfortunately, Major Domo has been following Mojo, and he interprets Mojo's actions as attempts to lull the X-Men into a false sense of security. He launches an attack on the X-Mansion with the Half Sentient, a cross between a Sentinel and a Mindless One (which Mojo says came about through sex between the two – ew). Domo also captured the woman Mojo is in love with to use as a hostage.
The Half Sentient is about to crush the X-Men when Mojo has a change of heart and saves the day. It earns him a date with his crush and a new friendship with Glob. Will this new status quo continue to be explored? We really hope so. Mojo is a character who's treaded water for decades and this unconventional approach breathes new life into him. We'd read a Mojo/Glob Herman buddy comic is what we're saying.
In the Apocalypse backup story, Apocalypse is stranded on a world with evolution run amok, but he himself is devolving into a human, feeling pain and discovering new bodily needs like thirst. He finds a colony of insects that have evolved into a civilization and gets into a fight with them, which he loses. Things aren't looking good for Apocalypse, but we'll have to find out more next issue.
So far, we could take or leave the Apocalypse backup, though presumably its purpose is to set things up for a future story or event. On the strength of the Mojo story, however this book is clearly the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the week.
Congratulations to the creative team for winning the most coveted of all weekly grilled-meat themed comics awards.
(W) Gail Simone (A) David Baldeon (CA) Lim, Gang Hyuk
• After the explosive events of "Killer Instinct" and DOMINO ANNUAL #1, Neena Thurman has a new mission…
• Don't miss the surprise hit series critics are calling:
"Everything a comic should be." – Ross Hutchinson, ComicWatch
"A must-have purchase." – Rollin Bishop, comicbook.com
"If you haven't been reading this series, you should correct that mistake immediately." – Matt Morrison, Kabooooom
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
Domino #7 starts off with police investigating a murder scene in Barcelona for which Atlanteans appear to be responsible, but that's the last we hear about it in the issue, so that's a storyline that will presumably be popping up later. Meanwhile, back at their riverboat casino headquarters, Domino and her posse, Outlaw and Diamondback, are discussing marketing plans for the boat when a client from Wakanda named Ms. Shoon'kwa arrives with a job, paying four times their usual fee and coming with presumably at least four times the danger.
The crew heads to Norway to collect something for Shoon'kwa, which opens up the convenient opportunity for Diamondback to recall her Norwegian heritage and how her grandmother told her stories about the creepy undead things populating the woods they just happen to be headed toward. Sure enough, in the woods, they encounter a wedding party that's been turned into vampires, and a battle ensues. Eventually, Domino and friends win and discover a locked container. Against their client's wishes, they open it up and find Morbius the Living Vampire. Someone is spying on them from a distance, and they decide to call in all the vampire hunters they can, including Blade, to deal with the infestation… which will happen next issue.
Domino is entertaining as always, and now that we're past the initial arc, there's already a few plotlines brewing, which bodes well for the book's future. If you've been sleeping on this book, jump on board now for what's likely to be a satisfying run.
(W) Saladin Ahmed (A) Javier Rodriguez (CA) David Nakayama
Javier Rodriguez returns on art duties with the start of a brand-new arc! On the run from rogue Watchers, the Exiles find themselves scattered in a dusty Arabian town – and with a bad case of mistaken identity! Who is the ne'er-do-well son of a tailor everyone calls "Aladdin"? What are the 40 thieves after? And most importantly…what classic Marvel villain plays the role of despotic Caliph? Saladin Ahmed brings One Thousand and One Nights to life in the pages of Marvel Comics!
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
In Exiles #9, the team has been transported to the fictional world of the One Thousand and One Nights, with each of the team members inhabiting the roles of different characters in the stories. Blink, for instance, finds herself in the body of Aladdin, and on the streets of what is described as "Medieval Bagdhad… Sort Of," she runs into Hakeem Strange, a sorcerer who wants her to enter a mysterious cave in the middle of the desert and retrieve a genie's lamp for her. When she gets inside, she finds Iron Lad in the role of the genie (Robin Williams, he is not). Strange is pissed that Blink rubbed the lamp herself… er, himself… well, the other characters don't see the Exiles, they see the characters from the story… so he traps them in the cave, where they battle a monster that looks like The Rhino before they're able to locate a magic carpet and make their escape.
Valkyrie and Becky Barnes end up in the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, with Valkyrie in the titular role and Becky her wife. They find Captain America locked in battle with the leader of the thieves, Black Cat. The thieves cast a spell on the heroes and kidnap Becky, disappearing into their hideout with the door locked behind them. Luckily, Cap remembers the password from the story and they're able to get in, only to find the thieves, and Becky, gone. Meanwhile, King and Wolvie wake up on Sinbad's ship, where they visit an island only to be attacked by cyclopses. In a cute nod, the giant monsters all have visors like Scott Summers, meaning these cyclopses are right! They retreat, but they end up in a worse predicament with a sea monster and almost end up drowning.
Wolvie saves King and they end up floating to an island where they find Valkyrie and Cap have just emerged from the other side of the hideout cave. Shortly afterward, Blink and Iron Lad arrive on their magic carpet. Soon after, Becky arrives, having fought her way out and ready for a makeout sesh with Valkyrie. That just leaves Nocturne, but the Talus is on the case, transporting them to her location where she's been stuck in the role of Scheherazade, reading stories to Caliph Doom. Okay, now things are starting to make sense, but also, this will be continued in another issue.
Comics are constantly mining old stories for new content, but at least they picked some good stories this time, and with an interesting twist to boot. We'll be looking forward to seeing how this reality is explained in the next issue.
(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Juan Cabal (CA) Mike Choi
All is revealed as Laura and Gabby fight to return to each other and work to uncover the ultimate machinations of the power-hungry Cuckoos. But which team will take the day – and will any of the sisters emerge unscathed?
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
The opening story arc of X-23 comes to a close in X-23 #5, with Laura, aided by Mindee and the psychic form of the dead Sophie (who is residing in Laura's head) rushing to the X-Mansion to stop the evil Esme, occupying Gabby's body, from gaining control of Cerebro. That's not gonna happen without a fight, of course, and one quickly breaks out, with Phoebe (or is it Celeste?) taking a claw to the gut when Sophie reveals that Esme murdered her. The fight is just a distraction, however, for Mindee to slip into the mansion and take control of Cerebro herself, which she uses to banish Esme to parts unknown, with a little help from her other sisters. Afterward, the remaining Cuckoos disappear while Laura and Gabby celebrate Gabby's birthday at the X-mansion.
This was a fun opening arc, but we're more interested in seeing where the book goes from here, having established its new status quo.
Iceman #2 (of 5)
(W) Sina Grace (A) Nathan Stockman (CA) W. Scott Forbes
• Guest-starring Emma Frost, the White Queen!
• When it comes to Bobby Drake and Emma, the White Queen has always held the upper hand.
• So what trouble is Emma in that has her pleading for his help?
In Shops: Oct 10, 2018
Emma Frost has come to the X-mansion to ask Iceman for his help. Iceman, like most of the X-Men, is a little mad at her for all of her recent villanous actions, however, so Emma is forced to telepathically coax him into the city where they can talk privately. It turns out that she wants Iceman's help to rescue her brother, who is being held at her family's estate by her evil father. Christian Frost was never interested in taking over the family business, and also his father was displeased that Christian is gay and sent him off to conversion therapy and then put him into a mental institution, pretty much destroying his life. Now he's back at home, but when Emma went to visit, not only did her father refuse to let her in, but he also zapped her with a psychic attack, which is strange, because he doesn't have psychic powers.
So Bobby and Emma head to Massachusettes to pay them a visit. When they arrive, they find Christian, seemingly happy and in control, but he freaks out when Bobby tries to open a locked door. That's because he's apparently murdered his father with a fireplace poker and developed an evil psychic version of his dad using his own powers, which manifests as a rampaging spectre in the house. Emma is unable to enter Christian's mind, so she brings everyone into Bobby's mind, which is appropriately a winter wonderland. A battle ensues, but ultimately it's Emma promising to help Christian overcome his issues with the power of love that saves the day.
Emma must now assume control of Frost Technologies and help set everything right, so she tells Bobby to hit the road. Back in New York, he's got a hit on a dating site, and he just completed a good deed, so things are looking up for the Iceman. However, the book's final scene shows tha tMister Sinister has been working on creating a monster to send after Iceman in order to keep him busy so Sinister can study him further. Next issue: the Amazing Friends!
Side note: on Bobby's phone near the end of the book, we notice that he's got five texts from Kitty Pryde, but we don't see what they are. Just random background info to help make the world feel more alive, or is there more to those messages? We'll find out, we suppose.
We're already into the second issue of Iceman's new solo series, and the team isn't wasting time packing this book with as much as they can, which is to say that, even though this is part 2 of a 5-issue mini, it contains a complete story on its own while tying into the larger narrative, which is always welcome. This book also follows up on storylines from the 2003 Emma Frost solo series, which is a hidden gem so to speak, so while you wait for the next issue of Iceman, why not take a trip back using Marvel Unlimited and give it a read?
You can, er, ignore the gratuitous covers, or just pretend you're reading an Avatar Press comic.
That's all for this week, folks! Head back next week for five more X-book recaps as we continue the countdown to the relaunch of Uncanny X-Men.
Read more X-ual Healing here: