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What’s up with the X-men

While I live under a rock for fear of spoilers and I wait to go and see Avengers: Endgame (I go tomorrow), I wanted to let you know that I picked up reading comics again. Not that I ever truly stopped, but since my new career in BIM I’ve had to dramatically reduce my readings […]

While I live under a rock for fear of spoilers and I wait to go and see Avengers: Endgame (I go tomorrow), I wanted to let you know that I picked up reading comics again.

Not that I ever truly stopped, but since my new career in BIM I’ve had to dramatically reduce my readings in fiction, which of course is bad for the brain. I’ve designed a new weekly routine, now, and it has time for both reading and writing fiction.

Of course, few things changed in my readings, the most significant thing being my approach to something I’ve never truly liked, but I’ll leave this for another post.

If you’ve known me for a while, you know I have always been an avid reader of Marvel comics, with a specific passion for the X-men. I wrote a lot about these comics on this blog. Few things happened in the Marvel multiverse and I’ve grown distant from those stories, just as I’ve grown distant from the movies. But I never truly left. A couple of things convinced me to come back and these are heavy spoilers if you haven’t followed the comics in years:

  • Cyclops is dead: the character had gone cold as a leader and was uninteresting as a husband after his relationship with Emma Frost had been explored to great depths but also with a certain shallow indifference, lately;
  • Kitty Pryde is back: after phasing a giant space bullet through Earth to save the planet and being lost in space (you wish I was kidding) a decade ago, the character has a more mature twist and is the new leader of the X-men;
  • Jean Grey is back in town: her resurrection in the much debated Phoenix Endsong had moved me to tears but we’ve had to wait a lot for the actual comeback of the glorious character;
  • Ororo (Storm) is still alive.

So I came back. And since I’ve grown insufferent with how these comics are published in Italy, I went and bought the original language. And since our house is not getting any bigger, I went and bought the digital copies of pretty much any collection I could find. I’ll decide if I want the paper copies of anything. So this is what I found to be out there.

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Phoenix Resurrection (2018), the collection of the five chapters for what was bound to be my starting point for my comeback to the X-universe. It’s written by Matthew Rosenberg, a beloved indie author whom you might know for 12 Reasons to Die and We Can Never go Home, winner of the Diamond Comics Gem Award in 2015. Drawings for the five chapters are respectively by these people.

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The story explores not the physical resurrection of Jean, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if not for the fact that Endsong has been ret-conned and we’re all confused. It explores her comeback as a whole after exploring a reality coming out of your most traditional American horror story. We get to see yet another take on her relationship with the Phoenix force and her return is a story on how you need to let go of grief and of the past if you want to move forward.

If I manage to draft up more in-depth posts for each series, I’ll probably start from this one.


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X-men Blue (2017). The collection is made of five issues (I only own the last two) and collated stories spanning from September 2017 to November 2018. They are still stories suffering from the shadows of all the narrative mess that drove me away in the first place.


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X-men Black (2018). A beautiful spin-off volume with some monographic short stories on characters traditionally aligned as villains. It has a wonderful story on Magneto signed by no other than Chris Claremont (The stars, our Destination), a story on Mojo (Mojo Rising) which isn’t completely bad, a beautiful story on Mystque (One short day) signed by Seanan McGuire and illustrated by Marco Failla, a story on the Juggernaut (Stoppable), a wonderful story on Emma Frost (Hunger is Productive) by Leah Williams, a collection of five stories on Apocalypse (Degeneration).

Hopefully I’ll write more about this.


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X-men Gold. The sister series of the Blue one, mostly written by Marc Guggenheim and explicitely dedicated to Chris Claremont is closer to my favorite flavour of X-men. It has politics, space and dimensional travels, international intrigue, personal drama and a touch of cuberpunk as the series clearly struggles to step into a setting where big data and drones aren’t science fiction anymore and you can’t choose not to use them. It focuses on a team made up by Storm, Logan (but it’s not the Logan you’re looking for), Rachel Grey, Nightcrawler and Colossus, led by Kitty, and it’s set in New York where the X-mansion now is. Recurring appearances are made by Iceman, Illyana, Rogue and Gambit, Hisako and other students.

The collection issues available are called:

  1. Back to Basics;
  2. Evil Empires;
  3. Mojo Worldwide;
  4. The Negative Zone War;
  5. Cruel and Unusual;
  6. ‘Til Death do us part;
  7. Godwar.

I voraciously fed on all of them and on average I must say I enjoyed all the narratives in it. They are a clear comeback to X-treme X-men (remember? Giant space bullet), Guggenheim hasn’t lost his touch and he has grown to be one of my favourite comic books writer. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend a few words on these stories as well, but I’m starting to make a little too many promises.


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X-men Red (2018). Another spin-off series, focusing on Jean Grey and her renewed efforts to become the leader of a mutant nation and “heal the world”. Her team is made up by Nightcrawler, Storm, Logan (again, not the one you’re looking for), Laura X-22 and her little clone sister Gaby (so you effectively have three wolverines), Gambit, a new character named Gentle and a new Indian technocrate psychic named Trinary. It also heavily features Namor, since their headquarters is Under the Sea (good luck getting the song out of your head now). It’s written by Tom Taylor and has a clear political angle, touching themes such as tolerance and integration, equal rights, media wars and hate policies. Recommended.

 

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