The mid ’90s is a time in which many X-Men fans recall a deluge of books to the line. Aside from Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, there was X-Factor, X-Force, Wolverine, Generation X, Excalibur, Cable and the semi-regular X-Men Unlimited. Almost all of those titles are still around today in various incarnations, but in more of a multitude. Where the ’90s boom period saw two main X-Men books – splitting a roster of 12 into two teams of six – this weekend’s announcement of the continuation of Astonishing X-Men shows that Marvel will be putting out FOUR main X-Men titles, along with the X-Factors and X-Forces to go with them.
Astonishing X-Men was launched back in 2004 as the flagship title for the line. Created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, the book was to lead the line as Grant Morrison’s New X-Men had done before it. Delays set in, however, and eventually Uncanny X-Men and X-Men proceeded without it. After the line shake-up of Messiah CompleX, Astonishing retooled under writer Warren Ellis, but the book continued its string of rough delays. To date, the book is still struggling to wrap up its third storyline in the form of a mini-series, and is painfully behind the rest of the line. To take its place, a new X-Men book was launched this year after the close of Second Coming. It was assumed (by me, at least) that Astonishing X-Men would come to a close after Ellis’s story wrapped.
Not so, says Marvel. In their supreme effort to oversaturate as many lines as humanly possible, Astonishing X-Men will continue not only with a new creative team, but with a regular schedule. Now, along with Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and X-Men, Astonishing will make a 4th team book for the X-Men alone. That’s not counting the auxillary titles of X-Factor, New Mutants, Uncanny X-Force, Generation Hope and the 17 Wolverine and Deadpool titles. Simply put, there are not enough characters nor stories for FOUR X-Men titles. Just like there are not enough characters nor stories for FOUR Avengers titles. It’s time for Marvel to thin the line a bit before burning the fanbase out completely.