Ranking the Age of X-Man So Far [X-ual Healing 4-10-19]
I can't do a mid-event ranking of the Age of X-Man books before getting through the current week's issues, so let's do the recaps first, and then afterward, I'll tell you what I think of the Age of X-Man so far.
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.
Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #3
(W) Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson (A) Marco Failla (CA) Phil Noto
THE AGE OF X-MAN CONTINUES!
The X-Men will protect you. The X-Men will keep you safe. The world is a good place, and the X-Men will make sure it remains good. The X-Men will not break. The X-Men will not fall apart. The X-Men will protect…right?
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
The X-Men head to the Bahamas where they provide disaster relief for a storm. While there, Storm tries to confront Magneto about looking through his window last issue and seeing a hole in the wall that showed visions of the real universe, but he avoids her. Later, the X-Men watch TV and see Apocalypse preaching his hippie love message and begin to take sides as to what degree of fascist they each are about it. Apocalypse will hold a rally in London on Xavier Day, and the X-Men vow to meet him there.
X-Man flies out into outer space to meditate on how the X-Men are forming groups based on how revolting they find Apocalypse, despite his preaching about individuality. Meanwhile, Storm confronts Magneto about the visions. They fly into the sky inside a storm bubble to discuss it privately, but X-Man overhears them and confronts them. He takes them to the Rocky Mountains where there is another giant rift, this one showing a vision of Cyclops killing Charles Xavier while possessed by the Phoenix Force. He comes clean about messing with their minds, but when they get angry, he wipes their minds and banishes them back home.
Yawn. Wake me when this is over.
Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #2
(W) Tim Seeley (A) Salva Espin (CA) Gerardo Sandoval
THE AGE OF X-MAN CONTINUES!
In the wilds of the former Soviet Union lurks a creature the locals call the "Tongue of Czernobog"… But why do Apocalypse and his revolutionary X-Tracts want to find him? And can they get to him before Department X does?
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
Kicking things off with a flashback, Apocalypse and Unveil bust Kitty Pryde out of prison and immediately take her to a mutant hatchery, where Apocalypse has Kitty use her phasing powers to get them inside so he can steal his son, Genesis. In the present, at Apocalypse's art gallery/headquarters, Apocalypse and Kitty ruminate on the menorah they unearthed last issue. Kitty feels a familiarity with it.
In Kazakhstan, Genesis meets up with Eyeboy, Dazzler, and Unveil and shares intel he got from the locals to help locate Omega Red, who the team is there to recruit. Eyeboy is unhappy with Genesis, who he thinks is only there on the mission because he's Apocalypse's son (which is true). Genesis says there is a team of mutants also looking for Omega Red, but it's not the X-Men or Department X. The mystery doesn't last long, as this team shows up and takes out Unveil, their leader introducing himself as "The Siberian."
Things are looking bad for our heroes, but Eyeboy whips out two handguns and starts shooting all the bad guys. Unfortunately, he uses rubber bullets, so the Siberian soon has him on the ropes. Dazzler steps in and uses her light powers to provide an opportunity for escape, which the X-Tracts take advantage of. When they stop, Eyeboy reveals that the Siberian and his team are no longer chasing them because they've all been killed by Omega Red, who fights in the name of socialism.
It's interesting to see that there is more than one prison in the Age of X-Man, though both of them are psychological nightmares. Kitty was in a prison run by Mastermind, while over in Prisoner X, Bishop is in a prison that is also the Danger Room. Other than that, this story doesn't really feel very consequential because we can be almost certain all of this will be undone when the Age of X-Man is over. And it's hard to give much of a crap about these radically different alternate universe versions of the main characters.
Dead Man Logan #6
(W) Ed Brisson (A) Mike Henderson (CA) Declan Shalvey
BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT!
Wolverine has returned…attended weddings, handled Infinity Gems, but now his greatest challenge is at hand: himself!
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
The issues starts with Logan meeting Steve Rogers in a nice rest area overlooking the bay in San Francisco. Logan apologizes for almost killing the Avengers in previous issues, under the influence of Mysterio. Steve accepts his apology, but notes that the Avengers totally had him under control. Logan then heads to Vancouver, where he sneaks into the apartment of Mariko Yashida, his ex-girlfriend and current Red Samurai. Logan has been creepily stalking the current child version of his future wife from his alternate future past, and he asks Mariko to keep an eye on her for him while he's gone. She agrees.
Outside her apartment, Logan smells a familiar scent, so he heads to a bar and orders two beers. The recently returned original Wolverine joins him, and they chat for a bit. Logan realizes that this Wolverine will not have the same future as him, which is good in a way, but sad because it means his alternate future past family won't exist. Logan gives Wolverine some advice: never stop fighting. Then they get into a bar fight.
The next morning, at Forge's lab, Logan says goodbye to Forge, Cecilia Reyes, Jubilee, Glob Herman, and Hawkeye, then enters the portal to return to the Wastelands.
This issue wrapped up the storylines in the mainstream Marvel Universe so that Logan can spend the last six issues of his death comic in the Wastelands. Yes, we've reached the midway point of this Wolverine-killing maxi-series. It was a quiet issue built mostly on Logan's self-reflecting.
(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Diego Olortegui (CA) Ashley Witter
• X-23 vs. Honey Badger!
• But what could drive a wedge between these two sisters?
• Meanwhile, X-23 digs deeper into the shadows of a secret new organization, HARVEST!
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
The issue opens with Laura revealing that Gabby is gone, and then immediately flashes back to show us how. Laura and Gabby investigate another cloning operation, and while there, Gabby and Laura both smell something, something that smells like Scout, the dead clone-sister from the previous story arc. Gabby wants to rescue more of her clone-sisters, but Laura doesn't, which leads to trucks driving away with the clones inside them. This leads to a fight between the two, which continues after they get home later. Gabby packs her bag and storms out, taking Jonathan with her. Now Laura is sad.
We also see, at the end of the issue, that the new clone has… feathers? What?
This book is apparently canceled after next issue, which is a shame. It's nice though that the final two-part storyline will focus on Laura and Gabby's relationship as sisters, though hopefully it will end happily with a reconciliation. All-New Wolverine lasted 35 issues without a reboot, but X-23 has lasted just 12. Better luck next time for the clone-sisters? Hopefully, because the three wolverines featured in this book (Laura, Gabby, and Jonathan) are easily my top three favorite wolverines in the Marvel Universe right now. If I had to analyze what prevented this book from succeeding, I'd say they probably should have focused on Jonathan more. He barely had anything more than cameo appearances in this series, which was a mistake.
(W) Ed Brisson (A) Damian Couceiro (CA) Pepe Larraz
Kid Cable wasn't the only one who'd come back from the future…!
In Shops: Apr 10, 2019
This issue is all about filling in backstory. To kick things off, we flash back to six weeks ago as Ahab and his hounds materialize in Transia after the events of Extermination and are captured by the Transian military. We then flash back again (but also forward) to 2,000 years in the future, as we follow Stryfe's discovery of Cable's time portal from the previous issue. By four weeks ago (present time), Stryfe has established a relationship with Transia using the portal, supplying tech to bolster their military in exchange for Transia handing over all the mutants that have come to Transia, which offers them shelter. Stryfe is using these mutants to build his new Mutant Liberation Army.
We also see Transian officials show Stryfe their captured hounds. Stryfe is very pleased to find Rachel Summers there. Ahab is displeased to learn the Transians handed her over to Stryfe. Back in the future, Stryfe evaluates his new mutant recruits and find most of them lacking, so he sends them off to be executed. To the remainder, he lies, saying that their fellow mutants were sent to live peaceful lives only to be murdered by Clan Chosen. Now they'll definitely be game to seek revenge on Cable.
Stryfe uses the hounds to hunt down the remaining members of Clan Chosen in his time and then leads his new MLA to the present, where we finally pick up where we left off two issues ago before our history lesson. Back in the present, Stryfe threatens to kill all of Cable's captured friends from the future, including Rachel, the Askani' Mother, as well as X-Force, if Cable doesn't surrender. Cable does just that, and Stryfe brings him through the portal to X-Force's chagrin as the issue ends.
Lots of revelations this issue as pretty much all of the mysteries from the first five issues have been explained. Stryfe is winning, and X-Force will presumably need to head to the future for a rescue. Great issue packed with explanations tying together the book's two timelines, making this the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Week.
Congratulations to the creative team.
Ranking the Age of X-Man So Far
Okay, now it's time for that Age of X-Man report card I promised. Here's my thoughts on the five mini-series so far, in order of my most favorite to least favorite. Could these rankings change by the end of the event? It's possible, but at this point it seems unlikely. I'll still be rooting for Marvel to make me eat my words though.
- Age of X-Man: Prisoner X – This unexpected dive into psychological horror is the sleeper hit of Age of X-Man. Since the story takes place in what we assume to be a holographic world created by the danger room, it didn't necessarily need the Age of X-Man event beyond the initial reason for sending Bishop to prison, but if that's what it took to get this book, maybe it was all worth it.
- Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists – This is the one good book out of the Age of X-Man which couldn't really exist without the event's concept, as it uses the changed environment as a means to deconstruct the characters featured in it. In addition to all that character work, the book also deftly features the soap opera drama that is the true heart and soul of X-Men comics.
- Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler – This series is one of the best takes on Nightcrawler in decades and functions similarly to X-Tremists as a character study wrapped inside a soap opera plot. Where it differs from X-Tremists is that the main characters remain essentially unchanged from their regular universe nature, making it a more straightforward, joyous celebration of the characters than a critical deconstruction.
- Age of X-Man: NextGen – As solid as any story focusing on the current generation of X-kids, which is to say pretty solid, even if nothing groundbreaking is going on here.
- Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts – Though this book does have a unique story, the characters are so radically altered from their regular-universe versions that it's hard to care about any of them.
- Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men – The "main" event book suffers from both a general perception that nothing that occurs in it will ultimately matter once the event ends and also from a lack of anything interesting actually occurring with the plot after 3 of 5 issues which mostly consist of the X-Men standing around and complaining about what they see on television.
Overall: Thus far, the Age of X-Man event feels mostly unnecessary, like it's just treading water while we wait for the X-Men to return to the Marvel Universe and get rebooted by Jonathan Hickman. While four of the mini-series are actually very good comics, with the exception of X-Tremists, they all could have been made to work without the event concept with a little tweaking. The event as a whole suffers from its overarching concept being kind of boring along with its status as a lame duck event preceding the Hickman reboot that we know is coming when it ends (which isn't even something I'm personally excited about, but I know that it will set the tone for the X-Books moving forward, rather than this event). Thankfully, I find two-thirds of the series quite enjoyable, and the other two are inoffensive enough that I don't necessarily mind slogging through them, something you have to get used to doing occasionally over the long haul as an X-Men fan.
Do you agree? Disagree? Your take is welcome in the comments, and if I'm not feeling too lazy, I'll reprint some of them in the column next week. No guarantees though – I'm often feeling very lazy.
Adventures in Poor Taste has their weekly X-Men Monday column up, though not only did my nemesis Chris Hassan fail to ask my Claremont question again, but he didn't even provide me with any salacious clickbait headlines this time! What have I ever done to you, Chris?! Besides pester you about this every week I mean. Its' worth a read to see Jordan White dodge answering a question about what Major X selling out really means alone though, in addition to all the other X-Men tidbits you get from reading the column weekly (and a cover reveal for X-Force #10).
X-Statix is returning from Peter Milligan and the Allreds!
X-23 is canceled after the next issue, which is sad.
Wolverine is fighting Blade in July.
Matthew Rosenberg ended his Twitter hiatus again to declare that he will murder an X-Men character in this week's Uncanny X-Men #16.
Ed Brisson revealed his true motivations behind the brutal murder of your favorite X-characters… and the reason will SHOCK you!
Not an X-book (though it does feature Quentin Quire), but X-writer Kelly Thompson's West Coast Avengers series concludes (too soon) this week. I still hold a major grudge against the Avengers for the whole Avengers vs. X-Men thing, but this series has been great and you should go check it out if you haven't been reading it.
Previews of this week's Major X, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine Infinity Watch, and Amazing Nightcrawler can be read at the links. I didn't write up NextGen due to lack of a good clickbait headline angle, but you can see that one at The Beat.
See you next week!
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