Okay, I’ll admit it. I have absolutely no idea what Chaos War is, nor what has gone down thus far in it. I do know that the X-Men are getting a tie-in book called Chaos War: X-Men, advertised as dead X-Men returning from the grave for some purpose. This might have come off as exciting had the exact same thing not just happened in Necrosha, which actually took place in the main X-Men titles. That was the first bell that went off in my head against the book. Then I saw that the co-writers of it are Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson. While undoubtedly two of the most important writers in X-History, both are currently better suited to the out-of-continutiy stuff of the Forever titles.
So prospects weren’t looking too good for me picking up the book. Then, I spotted CBR’s four page preview of the first issue. And I have to hand it to Claremont and Simonson – they only needed four pages to prevent me from buying this book. Just four pages. That’s impressive. I’ll go into the why’s after the jump, since there will be four pages of SPOILERS.
Questionable concepts can make good comics if presented well. Civil War is always the example I go with to explain this point. But this one flies off the rails almost immediately. In the first page, you have Thunderbird, fully in costume, punching his way out of the ground at the long-since destroyed X-Mansion. He states that the last thing he remembers is dying in a blaze of glory, presumebly referring to his death scene waaaay back in Uncanny X-Men #95. This seems to forget that Thunderbird was just revived a few months ago in Necrosha…which actually he mentions within the next pages. And I won’t even bother nitpicking that he wasn’t in costume when last presented.
With him on the grounds of the mansion are Banshee, Moira MacTaggert, several Madrox dupes, and the two deceased Stepford Cuckoos Sophie and Esme. Moira MacTaggert is back in her awkward skintight one-piece outfit that she wore back in the 80’s, which she had been without for years before her death. I can get past that with the rather interesting aspect of the various Madrox dupes wearing different costumes representing times that they died, including the X-Factor uniform worn when he succumbed to the Legacy virus and a more recent X-Factor Investigations outfit (though I can’t remember a time in X-Factor where a dupe died without being reabsorbed).
The appearance of Sophie and Esme is what really annoys me. Sophie comments that Esme killed her, which is not even close to being true. Sophie died when the Cuckoos used Cerebra to stop the insurrection lead by Quentin Quire. Sophie couldn’t handle the stress of the system, which fried her brain. Esme didn’t go bad until after that point, as she had been recruited by the Xorn/Magneto villain. She herself did not kill Sophie. The only possible tie would be that Esme was responsible in spreading the Kick drug around the school, which Sophie used before using Cerebra. But that’s quite the stretch – it wasn’t the Kick that killed Sophie, after all. Certainly not in the sense that Esme said she would do it again.
And to nitpick on the twins, they shouldn’t even be dressed alike. When Esme left the school to join the baddies, she drastically changed her look to differentiate herself from the other Cuckoos. And since we’re nitpicking about that, I suppose I should also bring up the matter of Thunderbird telling Banshee and Moira that they both look well. Thunderbird never actually met Moira MacTaggert – he died the issue before she arrived at the mansion to meet the new team of X-Men.
Of course, these four pages aren’t likely important to the story. They’re the gratuitous establishment stuff to get all the characters together for the rest of the story. But for me, these pages demonstrate the style of writing that will likely fill both issues of this story. And if Claremont and Simonson couldn’t take the time to get the details of their characters right (even those written by Claremont himself), then both issues will likely frustrate me to the point where I will not be able to enjoy the tie-in to the story I’m not reading nor know anything about.
But it really goes beyond that with me, so allow me to blow off some steam. Both this and Necrosha before it were really just gratuitous efforts to let fans see dead characters without actually bringing them back. That’s fine and all – I’m sure there are fans still begging for a Banshee resurrection. But once in a while, creators harp the return of Thunderbird like it’s some big deal. He was a central figure in Necrosha and he’s a front and center in all the promotional images for this book. Even back in Ed Brubaker’s Deadly Genesis fans were taunted with a possible Thunderbird return before the villain was revealed as Vulcan.
I don’t really understand the appeal or draw of Thunderbird. He was only around for three issues before being killed off, and was basically a watered-down mix of Wolverine and Colossus. The character was basically cloned in the form of Warpath, who used the same look, attitude and power set as his brother. Yet when something like this comes along with Thunderbird, it always seems to be a big deal. I don’t know.
Long story short – I don’t like what I’ve seen of this title and I won’t be buying it. I suppose I could have just said that.
EDIT: A commenter has informed me that Esme did steer Sophie to her death. I went back and checked New X-Men #141 and it was right there. Bishop and Sage called Esme out on it before she left the Institute. That will teach me to check my own facts before I go off and somebody else’s. Thanks!