The pandemic continues to rage, and the future of the comic book industry remains uncertain, but Marvel is still cranking out X-Books as X-Force #10 hit stores last Wednesday. And so, your favorite weekly X-Men recap column continues for another week as we tell you all about what happened.
The big news in comics this week seems to be Marvel making a deal with Scholastic to produce original graphic novels for the bookstore market. Well, I say big news because everyone is acting like it's changed the game in comics, but in truth, it's not really a big deal, and I'll tell you why.
Yes, the young reader bookstore market is booming, and books published there will reach a younger, less insular, and a larger audience than superhero chapbooks. No one can argue that. But I think people are overestimating the impact this will have both on that market and on the Diamond former-monopoly side of comics. For the bookstore market, Marvel blew the chance to be a significant presence in that market ten or twenty years ago when they should have been expanding into it as an industry leader. Instead, they relied on bilking short term profits out of the direct market with super-mega-crossover events, variant cover bonanzas, #1 issue reboots, and all of that nonsense, getting them into the precarious situation they're in now. At this point, Marvel graphic novels are entering a market that is already established, and Marvel, for all intents and purposes, is a newcomer here competing against established brands and properties. The books may do well and make a profit for Marvel and Scholastic, but because Marvel took so long to get here, rather than being seen as a premier maker of comics expanding to reach a new audience, they're going to come off like a corporation trying to cash in through licensing. How do you do, fellow kids?
And that's the problem for the direct market as well. If you looked at the press release for that news, the Marvel executive giving the obligatory press release quote is Sven Larsen, who is in charge of the licensing department. Marvel, as a comic creating entity that makes monthly superhero chapbooks, isn't collaborating on Scholastic on making comics. Marvel as a corporate entity has licensed their characters to Scholastic so that established YR authors can shoehorn Marvel characters into the popular style and format of the YR book market. So I don't think these books are going to have a huge impact on the YR market, but at the same time, even if people do enjoy them, what's the incentive for those potential new readers to seek out and visit a comics specialty shop and start buying monthly superhero comics? Superhero comics that are a far worse value for the money, are weighed down with decades of convoluted continuity, and are bloated with sales gimmicks designed to squeeze more and more money from an existing readership but which make the entire line impenetrable to anyone not already indoctrinated into superhero comics culture and its predatory sales practices. And also, a large percentage of superhero chapbooks are of worse literary quality than what bookstore readers are used to.
TL;DR – It's nice that Marvel is looking to expand its properties to the bookstore market, which is a lucrative market to be in, but the synergy between the Diamond ecosystem and that market isn't as great as some people believe it to be. If anything, it will at least carve out a niche in the bookstore market for refugees of the direct market to flee to when it all finally goes underwater to get our superhero fix. But if Marvel really wanted to make a difference in the YR market… they should have started with The X-Men!
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, 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.
(W) Ben Percy (A) Joshua Cassara (CA) Dustin Weaver
THE DEADLY GARDEN!
As one of the team members struggles with their secrets unraveling, the rest of X-Force has to fight to stay alive long enough to salvage their mission.
In Shops: Jul 08, 2020
X-Force #10 Recap
Wolverine, Domino, and Kid Omega are spelunking in Terra Verde. Wolverine lectures Domino on choosing to have the memories of her torture wiped from her mind during her last resurrection. Can you believe this guy? Oh, does he have the trademark on mysterious pasts and missing memories or something?
Wolverine is so high up on his horse that he doesn't notice they've stepped into a booby trap. Kid Omega stops a bunch of spikes just short of impaling everyone with his TK powers.
They are in the heart of the temple of plant mutants, trying to decipher pictograms on the wall to figure out what's going on. It's like they're reading a Hickman comic! Quentin and Wolverine are pulled away by vines leaving Domino alone. This issue is titled: The Green Death.
We get a page out of The Beast's logbook titled "A Minor Miscalculation." It's about how Beast, in typical Beast fashion, arrogantly messed with science in an attempt to create plant weapons that stop terrorists and instead started a plague of intelligent hive-mind plants that will probably destroy the world. Beast considers this a minor oopsie because he's a f**king asshole.
In Krakoa, Black Tom is reluctant to take a Krakoan portal to Terra Verde and save the X-Force team at the behest of Beast. He takes some Krakoan dirt with him for good luck.
Domino plays Tomb Raider in the plant temple. After spelunking in the dark for a while, Domino uses her plant-based arm weapon from Forge to create a night vision lens for one of her eyes. She follows a trail of blood from Wolverine to find a plant priest about to sacrifice the little runt. Wolverine tells it, "You stick that thing in me, I got six ways of sticking you back." Two of those ways are the claws on either hand. Another two are the pointy tips on his masks. The final two are his two dicks. A crowd of plant people watching the sacrifice notice Domino and give chase.
In Krakoa, Beast is trying to reach X-Force over comms. He can't reach any of them, even Black Tom. Jean Grey shows up and reads his mind to see how he f**ked up. She's not happy. Beast tries to explain and apologize, but Jean thinks it's too late. She feels he violated mutant trust. Beast says what he did was worth the risk, even if plant people take over the world. Jean is not buying it.
This scene finishes in a prose page titled The Conscience of Warfare, which indicts Beast for both destroying an entire country of people and endangering mutants. Jean storms out of Beast's lair and heads through the portal for Terra Verde. It suggests Beast may have cried a single tear afterward, though that just be a sarcastic waying of calling him a self-centered, heartless bastard.
The page is signed "летописец," a Russian word we discussed back in February when a note was left in Krakoa bearing that same name in X-Force #7. The word means "Chronicler," though we don't really know who the Chronicler is yet. I noted back in February that it's a name that Irene Merriweather, currently a deceased friend of Cable, used to go by. Merriweather is not known to be a mutant.
Readers of X-Force # 7 are asking, "Who is ЛЕТОПИСЕЦ?" The answer is going to change everything.
— Benjamin Percy (@Benjamin_Percy) February 14, 2020
So mysterious. Anyways, in Terra Verde, Black Tom battles plant monsters in the jungle outside the plant temple. Jean arrives, carrying Sage with her, and tells Tom this isn't about heroics. It's about getting @#$% done. Inside the temple, the plants are consuming Wolverine, Domino, and Kid Omega, sending spores and vines inside their bodies. Even Wolverine slicing the plant leader with his claws can't stop it. Jean describes the temple as a hard drive containing Beast's teleforonic technology, and X-Force as a Trojan. Joining the minds of X-Force together, Jean kills every plant creature inside the temple.
Later, at Krakoa, Jean joins Wolverine in a hot bath. She says she's quitting X-Force. Wolverine says he knew she was too good for that kind of work. She suggests Sage or Colossus could be the conscience of X-Force. Jean says that if Logan thinks she's too good for X-Force, he probably thinks she's too good for him too. He says that sometimes she needs a taste of poison to keep things balanced, and then he bangs her.
All around, a pretty great issue. We got a reference to Wolverine's two dicks, even if, in the end, he used only one of them. And we got yet another example of Beast being a dick. And his fellow X-Men are starting to notice. In fact, they're no longer even surprised by it. And then there's the whole Chronicler mystery. Who is The Chronicler? Maybe it's Wolverine's other dick, severed from his body, and grown into its own intelligence using a combination of Wolverine's healing factor and Beast's technology. That would explain why Wolverine was only using one dick at the end of the issue. And one dick can certainly recognize another, which is why The Chronicler is so interested in Beast. Ben Percy, you magnificent bastard! This really does change everything!
That's all, just one X-Book this week. But there's a couple of X-Books out next week. 2020 iWolverine is one, and I guess I'll have to force myself to read it. Giant-Size Magneto is out as well. It's also the start of Empyre, and I've been considering doing a recap column for Empyre just to have something different to make fun of. But then, you know, I'd have to read it. And that would suck. We'll see if I feel like putting myself through that next weekend.
Read more X-ual Healing here: