Because of length reasons, I didn’t really get into just how much this book and its creative team changed my mind about the X-Men. As such, I’d like to do so here.
To me, as I fell in love with comics and superhero comics specifically throughout my adolescence, the X-Men were always a blockade. I’ve always said that I like when superhero stories have a bit of soap opera feel to them–that’s a BIG part of why I love ’60s-’70s Marvel so much–but such a term has good and bad connotations. For me, the X-Men seem to come down on the bad side.
Ever since Chris Claremont and a revolving door of artists revitalized the X-Men in the ’70s, basically making the book one long, long-running story, the franchise has only blown up in both number of books and number of stories since. The downside to all this is that it created what many like to point out as a problem with superhero comics as a whole: a continuity so complicated and dense that it’s impossible to find any clear entry points (the fact that many stories involve time travel doesn’t help either). Instead, Marvel has to go out of their way to make sure that certain event storylines–or the aftermaths thereof–are accessible to casual readers or people who read the event.
That’s not to say I didn’t read an X-stories before All-New X-Men. I remember reading a volume of Wolverine stories when I was younger, and In high school, I read what I call the “Vulcan Trilogy” of stories, where writer Ed Brubaker and artist Trevor Hairsine, among others, created the character of Vulcan, the long-lost younger brother of Cyclops who was raised a slave by aliens, escaped and wound up participating in a secret chapter in the events of Giant-Size X-Men #1— which brought characters like Wolverine and Nightcrawler into the fold and basically made the X-Men famous–which eventually made him go crazy. As an interconnected story of space opera and secret revelations went, I enjoyed it a lot…but I still had to look up some history for proper context.
I had a more stand-alone experience when I found Volume 4 of the Marvel Essentials series of X-Men collections in a discount bin at my local comic shop for $7. This also starts out as space opera, beginning with the team out in space fighting the alien Brood, but it goes on to have things like fights with the sewer-dwelling Morlocks, Storm growing a mohawk after bonding with a baby space whale only to see it die and the legendary “God Loves, Man Kills,” which was one of the major inspirations for X2. Yeah, it was a chunk of a larger story, but it began and ended completely enough that I didn’t feel completely confused or shortshrifted.
All-New X-Men made me feel the same way. Here’s a story–this time in the aftermath of last year’s requisite sales-generating-but-short-on-story summer crossover Avengers Vs. X-Men which spins out of everything that’s happened to the Marvel Mutants since 2005 or so–but one that feels like not just fallout from the Big Thing, but also a big game-changer that introduces a new status quo (past versions of the five original X-Men arriving in the present, FYI, in case you didn’t read my review) while still delivering completely coherent storytelling on its own.
Depressingly, that thing’s uncommon in terms of superhero stories, but as long as we get examples that shine like this, I’ll take it. As I said in the Drunk On Comics piece, I’ll be keeping up with this book…and I may or may not have started watching the ’90s X-Cartoon from the beginning. In short, I’ve turned my thinking around on characters I thought I’d never like. Life’s funny that way.