Month: December 2007

Countdown: Arena


I can sum up my reaction to hearing that this mini-series was going to be made with one word: enthusiasm. I can also sum up my reaction to the mini-series after reading the fourth and final issue: disappointment. Now, disappointment does not necessarily mean that this was a bad mini-series. I have read much worse. But for me, the actual story did not live up to the concept.

Having heroes from different Earths fight each other sounded like a great idea. Monarch is going to use the winners in his army? Still a good concept. Have the captives team up to fight Monarch, thus taking away from the battles? Starting to lose me. Have the the captives fight, and a calvary come in, only to get demolished? Now you’ve lost me.

Monarch has already been established as a serious force. A mini-series was not needed to drive this point home. All it did was take away from the selling point of the mini-series. I bought the book to see three different versions of the same character fight it out for supremacy, not Monarch plow through everyone. After finishing this, it seems like they could have just put this into Countdown. Or maybe an 80-page special one-shot.

Keith Champagne’s writing was not bad. The actual script was an easy read, and flowed smoothly. I know it is odd to not like a story and be okay with a script. It is possible for a bad story to be executed well, and a good story to be executed poorly. Here, Champagne does the best with the story he’s been given. I am not a fan of Scott McDaniel’s art. If you are, that’s fine. It’s just not my thing.

If at the end of Countdown, I am proven wrong, and this was necessary, I will come back and write a correction.

New X-Men to survive Messiah Complex

When the post-Messiah Complex X-solicitations were released by Marvel, conspicuous by its absence was New X-Men, and fans took notice of it. With the release of X-Force some (myself included) thought that the newer book would replace the older, much like the New Mutants/X-Force trade-off of 1991. However, since none of the book’s cast, save X-23, would be in the new one, it left fans questioning the fate of the next generation of X-Men.

Turns out, according to a recent press release, there’s a new title in the works:

David Gabriel, Marvel’s Senior Vice-President of Sales and Circulation added, “Sales on New X-Men and X-Factor have more than doubled since this started. With new titles launching out of this event such as X-Force, Cable, X-Men: Legacy and Young X-Men, as well as saying good bye to some old favorites, we’ll have an entirely new invigorated X line up for 2008! “

So it looks like New X-Men will be replaced by Young X-Men. While it is a much more fitting title, one can’t help but think it’s a cheap ploy to get a new #1…though it’s not as bad as canceling Exiles just to release New Exiles. That’s as lame as it gets.

Anyway, it looks like there will be a place still for the students! That’s good news!

The Wolverine book nobody asked for…

Because one pointless Wolverine title (Wolverine: Origins) apparently wasn’t enough, it looks like Marvel will shortly be launching a second come March ’08. Apparently in the spirit of the surprisingly good X-Men: First Class, the new title will be Wolverine: First Class, and if what the linked interview with writer Fred Van Lente is all coming to pass, then I am not looking forward to it.

If you’ve missed it (and you’re missing out), Jeff Parker and Roger Cruz’s X-Men: First Class takes place during the…uh…First Class of Professor Xavier’s school (Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Angel) while they were still teenagers. When this time period actually happened in the comics, it was in the middle of the 1960s, and nobody (from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby founders to later creative teams) seemed to be able to write these kids as, well, kids. They read just like any other Marvel characters at the time (with the exception of Spider-Man) and the joys of youth were completely lost.

First Class allowed news stories during that time period (story-wise) as if the kids were living in the late 90s, early 00s. The premise of the book is not to insert into continuity, but rather to tell the kinds of stories that have the same back story, and allow the reader to have fun with the characters they know.

Wolverine: First Class seems to be missing the point entirely. While saying that this all fits into continuity, by starting out the story right after the close of the Dark Phoenix Saga, the characterization of Wolverine and the relationship between hm and Kitty are off. It feels like he’s trying to use the Wolverine of now with the Kitty of then, giving them a mentor/sidekick relationship that did not exist until much later in the book (around the Claremont/Romita era, after their mini-series).

Around Uncanny X-Men #139 (where this story apparently is set), Wolverine was not the trusted veteran that he is today. He was still brash, mysterious, and overly arrogant. In that very issue Wolverine tells Xavier of his intent to return to Canada to sort out his troubles with Department H, Xavier sends Nightcrawler along to chaperon, not fully trusting Wolverine.

Why then would this story have Xavier sending Wolverine on “solo missions” and sending Kitty along for the ride? There is no way that Xavier would subject Kitty to that – especially at that period of her life. Hell, he’s the one who demoted her to the New Mutants after he founded the team. The whole concept falls flat. If he’s going for the relationship of Wolverine and Kitty after their team-up mini-series, then it needs to be set at that period. To do so at this point, then claim it’s in continuity, is wrong – and dumb. I have to ask just how this was allowed.

As for the relationship itself – such a tight bond between the two characters did not come until much later…though it still took me some looking to see how it got so strong. Kitty initially bonded with Storm, then turned to Colossus as she became more comfortable on the team. In fact, the turn was a factor in Storm going to her ‘punk look’ after Wolverine’s wedding. While Wolverine, like Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Angel, all loved Kitty like a little sister, the bond that’s being shown in this title just wasn’t there until much later.

My point on this? If you want to have this book, then follow X-Men: First Class‘s example and just tell fun stories in the time period. There’s no need to try to push it as in continuity. There’s just no way you’re going to be able to make that work. It’s going to end up like other attempts (X-Men: The Hidden Years and Untold Tales of Spider-Man) as a random memory in the hardcore collector’s mind.

Definitely not going on my buy-list.