Each week in X-ual Healing, Bleeding Cool's weekly X-Men recap column, we choose the X-book which that week provided the most satisfying X-Men reading experience, filling one's belly like a juicy sausage grilled by a hairy Canadian with his adamantium claws on a hot Summer day. As we enter the new year of 2020, and a new decade, it's time to look back on 2019 and celebrate the X-Men franchise with the Wolverine's Weiner X-Picks of the Year, a grilled-meat-themed unmatched in all of comicsdom.
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.
On Monday, we named Jonathan Hickman the Wolverine's Weiner X-Pick of the Year for Favorite Twitter Account. Yesterday, we named Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists as the Horniest X-Book of the Year. On Wednesday, we pointed out that 2019's Most Canceled X-Men Series was… All of Them! On thursday, we named Chris Claremont the Most Underutilized X-Men Writer. And today, we celebrate…
Most Overrated X-Men Relaunch – HoXPoX
Sure, maybe it's because X-Men fans have just been through multiple years of Marvel purposely degrading the status of the X-Men books due to Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter's petty feud with Fox for owning the X-Men movie rights, but when an A-list writer like Jonathan Hickman was officially announced as the mastermind behind an upcoming X-Men relaunch, fans immediately began treating him like the second coming of Christ, even before we knew anything at all about what he was planning. And when the first issue finally launched, people immediately declared House of X and Powers of X as the most important X-Men comics in at least thirty years. The praise for the series was nuts, and you couldn't even hold an even slightly less than gushing opinion on the series without being shouted down on the internet. Seriously, I received angry messages for writing an article that literally said the first issue was good and had promise, but we should wait and see how it turns out before declaring it the greatest thing since Grant Morrison's New X-Men.
At first, HoXPoX seemed to do a pretty good job of reinvigorating interest in the X-Men, and it certainly had people talking about it with every issue, speculating on all the twists and turns. And it ended with a new status quo brimming with possibility. But then the inevitable happened: the series needed to be franchised out to Marvel's usual stable of creative teams, some of whom were working on X-books before the relaunch. Marvel had the patience to give Hickman 12 weeks of only one X-book shipping per week, but the traditional Marvel playbook requires upwards of 6 series to ship each week to maintain desired levels of market (over-)saturation. We're not quite at those pre-HoXPoX levels yet, but we're getting there quickly with each month's solicits.
So Marvel needed lots of X-books, and they needed to ship them fast, some twice a month. Hickman clearly can't write all of them, so the actual main story he's allegedly the mastermind of can only progress at the rate of two issues per month in X-Men. That's two issues of the main story with ten issues of supporting stories in the other comics. If you're reading all of these, the pace has just slowed down drastically, and let's be honest, with Hickman writing, the pace of HoXPoX wasn't all that fast to begin with. Instead of one shocking X-Men plot turn to talk about each week, there's several. The core concept is diluted.
That's not to say the additional X-books are bad by any means. I'm personally enjoying Excalibur, New Mutants, Marauders, and X-Force as much as or more than X-Men, and I'm looking forward to the books that haven't launched yet and even the ones that haven't been announced yet. But I'm not your average comic book fan. I get paid to read them, for one thing, and I've made a personal lifelong vow to buy every X-Men comic that ever comes out, so I might as well make the best of it. For regular people, however, the time requirements have increased and the financial obligation has as well. To read all the X-Books in January will cost $48 in cover price, and remember, that only gets you two chapters of the overall narrative. A 200-issue ultra-decompressed Hickman epic bloated with a half dozen or more tie-in series sure seemed like a novel idea to everyone… before they actually had to live through it.
So online discussion has cooled, criticism has increased, and the revolutionary new era of the X-Men feels, in a lot of ways, very similar to the previous revolutionary era of the X-Men, which was similar to the previous, and the one before that, and so on. And there's more books to be added and undoubtedly a big crossover or two in 2020. The crossovers will be required to boost the sales as attrition starts to set in. And surely this is all eventually going to lead to a line-wide super-mega-crossover event before the whole thing is over. It all sounds very exhausting. How burnt out will everyone be by then?
That's all for now, at least for the big ones! We may name a few more in X-ual Healing's regularly scheduled programming this weekend. Looking forward to more Wolverine's Weiner X-book achievements in 2020!
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