Marvel certainly does love its teaser images. Whenever one of its books has anything coming up – be it which member of the Fantastic Four will die or who is the new female Black Panther (whatever happened to that one?) – Marvel tosses out teaser images to get the fan base hyped. My co-writer J.R. occasionally jokes about this practice, yet he’s often the one who alerts me to them. He can’t dispute their effectiveness in gaining buzz.
Following the conclusion and aftermath of Schism, the X-Men line looks to be getting (yet another) shake-up. Comic Book Resources has previewed all five of these teaser images featuring the covers of Generation Hope, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men: Legacy, X-Men and the new launch Wolverine and the X-Men with one character shown and the rest of the apparent roster shaded out. Even neater is that the covers of Uncanny, Hope and X-Men seem to line up to make one big picture.
After the jump we’ll take a look at each of the five teaser images and do some guesswork, as well as taking a look at the line as a whole.
I don’t read Generation Hope so I can’t say I’m familiar with its cast past their introductions in Uncanny X-Men, but I’m fairly certain that Sebastian Shaw isn’t a part of the book. But there he is in his normal shirtless pose smack in the middle of the cast. I think the call to expose Shaw (no pun intended) rather than Hope is because no one probably thinks that Hope will be leaving her own book. You can see her right there on the right. In my opinion, I’d say the roster will probably stay the same, just with the Lights maybe deciding that the X-Men aren’t actually their best bet. You can’t really blame them.
We last saw Sebastian Shaw have his mind damaged by Emma Frost in Matt Fraction’s last Uncanny story alongside outgoing Hope and current Uncanny writer Kieron Gillen. If that’s going to be done away with and putting Shaw back into a position of authority in the mutant world (the Hellfire Club is still around, after all), then color me intrigued. I might flip through this book, though I’m not familiar with the work of new writer James Asmus.
Will it really be 20 issues since the launch of X-Men? That doesn’t seem possible. Besides the transformation of Jubilee into a vampire, this title has been next to pointless (second only to Astonishing X-Men) as anything besides a second “loose continuity” X-Men book. X-Editor Nick Lowe has said that the title will be getting more of a set cast though the book would still be seeing various team-ups. I don’t have a problem with that at all. My only problem with X-Men has been its lack of purpose, since Astonishing X-Men already holds the position of “why is this book still coming out?” X-Title.
There’s very little to go on as far as the shaded figures go. The only one I’d wager a guess on would be the large long-haired one behind Jubilee – I think that’s Warpath who’s had no role in the X-books since leaving X-Force.
This title just got a shake-up following Age of X, so I don’t see too big of a change happening here. Professor X, Legion and Magneto might not be sticking around to go for the bigger picture, but I would guess that both Gambit and Frenzy are. I’d also hazard to guess that Marvel Girl (Rachel Summers), Havok and Polaris might be sticking around once brought back from space. I certainly think that Rachel is the short-haired figure directly behind Rogue.
The bigger news for Legacy (for me, at least) is that November’s #259 kicks off Mike Carey’s final arc on the book. Carey has been a godsend to the X-Men line since coming to X-Men so long ago. He’s redefined Professor X (and his history), repaired Rogue as a character and even tuned up some of the rank and files like Iceman, Chamber and Hellion while he was at it. I understand that he’d be ready to go – he’s only been writing the book for five years now – but I’m really bummed to see him leave.
At some point Marvel seemed to realize that announcing the end-results of an event – in this case, Schism‘s split between Cyclops and Wolverine – might keep fans from actually buying the mini in favor of the events that happen after it. Thus, just before the San Diego Comic Con the various X-editors and writer started hinting that Cyclops wouldn’t be making it out of the event. Uncanny‘s teaser image pushes that by featuring Emma Frost rather than Cyke himself, though I personally think he’ll be within the shadowed blob behind her. The only figure I can really guess is the one to the top left which looks a lot like Magneto, which I like since I thought that Schism seemed to be lining Cyke more with Mags while Wolverine was more in line with Xavier’s original mission. Neat twist.
Of course by this point we’re all aware that Uncanny is relaunching in November, making this #1. I had my grumbles about that matter but I’ve since calmed down. Nothing is really changing beyond the numbering, and I have little doubt that they’ll be jumping the numbers back up as soon as the two volumes get to #600. Because that’s what Marvel does.
Wolverine and the X-Men
As if being on two Avengers teams, having two solo books and leading X-Force wasn’t enough already, Wolverine’s getting a new X-Men book as well. The good news is it’s written by Jason Aaron who has established himself as the definitive Wolverine writer and he’s done pretty well with Schism thus far. I’m not really sure how this title will differ from Uncanny (save for the cast), but I can say that I will be buying it. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
I’m not certain who the three discernible shapes are behind Wolvie, but being that it’s Chris Bachalo, I’d guess the one with the points coming from his noggin may be Iceman. The power signature coming from the figure on the left looks to be Havok (and the hairstyle would support that), but I have very little idea who the seemingly skirted and jacketed girl flying in the background could be. The only female flier that’s coming to mind is Storm, but I don’t think that’s right.
I would also like to mention that I see a thin shadowed piece just to the left of the X, and want to hope that it is Nightcrawler’s tail. I am well aware that Nightcrawler is dead and won’t be coming back, but a man can hope, can’t he?
These preview images shows five separate teams of X-Men running around the Marvel U. But that’s really not all once you take a moment and think about it. Marvel has not said that it will be canceling any of its existing titles so Uncanny X-Force, New Mutants and X-Factor (arguably not an X-book) will all continue on as well. That bumps the number up to eight team books in the X-Men line. Well, I guess you could say Astonishing X-Men as well, but Marvel has turned it into more of the old X-Men Unlimited format of telling stories with various creators that don’t matter in the larger picture.
Eight team books for the X-Men line is quite a bit, but the line has the fortunate bonus of having so many characters in it that it can actually split them up into that many pieces. The only real exception is Uncanny X-Force which is made up of characters that are often off doing other things as well. This kind of divide (if the teaser images actually do mean that’s what Marvel is doing) is something the X-titles have been lacking for a while now, especially in the core books. Characters running around in Uncanny X-Men also were showing up in Legacy, Astonishing, X-Men, and even New Mutants and Generation Hope. A fan looking for a certain character or pairing would basically have to grab a handful of titles and hope that their character would swing in the background.
The problem with this format is that while the line had a ton of characters – the entire mutant community – almost no one got any moments to shine. Smaller characters would pop in for a line or a punch and then be gone. All the focus went to the core cast- Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Colossus and later Kitty Pryde – but the rest of the dozens of X-Men hanging around were basically all the same. It was only in the side books that characters got time to shine, like Rogue and Magneto in Legacy or the 3rd gen team in New Mutants. The titles need to establish themselves as unique rather than simply a cup scooped from a well of mutants.
But as for buying all of these titles? I find myself comparing this rather inflated line to the last boom period of the X-Men in the mid-90’s. Branched out from the core Uncanny X-Men came X-Men (now Legacy) while long-running X-Factor was still pushing, as was X-Force (formerly New Mutants). Along with those four were the other branches of teams in Excalibur and Generation X to round out the line. I’m not counting the solo books here nor there, and I’m leaving off both X-Men Unlimited and Astonishing X-Men. With those added up, it’s actually more of a boom period for the X-Books. It makes me wonder how many of them will be sticking around.
November’s going to be a big month for the X-Men. I can hardly wait.