Chuck Austen’s X-Men

From 2002 to 2005, the X-Men were going through a period of creative shine in which high-profile writers Grant Morrison and later Joss Whedon would steer the line through a creative boom.  But below the flagship titles of New and Astonishing X-Men, the titles of Uncanny and X-Men would find the other side of that coin.

That three year period saw the writing tenure of Chuck Austen and it is a period that many X-Fans would just as soon forget.  It’s renowned for its shaky characterizations, outlandish plots and questionable decisions throughout.

Comicdom Wrecks! takes a look at Chuck Austen’s X-Men career in a 13 part feature known as Chuck Austen’s X-Men.  Each edition sees a story picked apart and prodded for the pieces of the story and whether they do or do not work.  It’ll be a long and painful process, but by the end we hope to have an answer as to whether Austen is deserving of the reputation he received for this run.  (EDIT: He is.)

Contents

  1. Hope (Uncanny X-Men #410-412)
  2. Moving Story (Uncanny X-Men #413-416)
  3. Dominant Species (Uncanny X-Men #417-420)
  4. Rules of Engagement (Uncanny X-Men #421-422)
  5. Holy War (Uncanny X-Men #423-424)
  6. Sacred Vows (Uncanny X-Men #425-427)
  7. The Draco (Uncanny X-Men #428-434) Part 1, Part 2, Prologue
  8. The Trial of the Juggernaut (Uncanny X-Men #435-436)
  9. She Lies With Angels (Uncanny X-Men #437-441)
  10. Of Darkest Nights (Uncanny X-Men #442-443)
  11. Bright New Mourning (New X-Men #155-156)
  12. Day of the Atom (X-Men #157-160)
  13. Heroes and Villains (X-Men #161-164)
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25 comments

  1. Uncanny X-Men is a strange book. It hasn’t really had a very good writer on it since Claremont, and I’d argue that even Claremont wasn’t a very good writer for much of his run on the book, his interest clearly more piqued by New Mutants and Excalibur and Wolverine. But regardless, the 90’s actually were a somewhat stronger decade for the book as a while than the Aughties. Even though half of Lobdell’s run was terrible, there remain treasures in the Seagle and Davis runs. The Aughties gave us two very disappointing runs by Claremont and just an anonymous run by Brubaker which was competent but nowhere near what we had hoped for. I’d argue that Fraction might have been the best writer on the book since the 90’s. Even though his run was a very flawed one, you still felt like something was happening that was meaningful and what is more important than that?

    Contrast that with Austen which felt like a giant reset button waiting to happen. I don’t think there is a writer who wrote more on the X-Men who has had so little stick or become intentionally forgotten. With X-Men: First Class incorporating Azazel into the “Brotherhood”, it’s clear somebody sees something of worth in the character, but pending that return, nothing on Earth from his run of almost fifty issues is any kind of relevant today. Angel’s blood, Havok, Nurse Annie & Carter, Iceman’s secondary mutation (not Austen’s fault), Iceman & Polaris, Angel & Husk, Maximus Lobo, Jay (his fault? No, but after a third of a year writing She LIes With Angels, it’d better be for a character worth keeping around), that stupid ass Brotherhood of Mutants, and by all accounts Second Xorn was a failure of editors more than Austen it still doesn’t make what he wrote any good. The only thing he wrote that has any merit is Juggernuat’s reformation. In re-reading Austen’s run again in its entirety, I’d argue that “Hope” is actually not that bad. Although Joe Kelly’s run was starting to very much pick up in quality in the issues before he left (and I’d argue that his final issue is one of the best issues on the book of this past decade), I distinctly remember feeling at the time that with Morrison reinventing the series and Claremont giving one for his old fans, a retro book like Austen’s wasn’t really a bad idea. Little did we know, o’ little did we know.

    Really wish Kelly had been given another year, but Austen brought the sales. And like that, he was gone like a repressed memory.

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    1. Goddess! You really seem to dislike Xmen alot! Its not a very good book ect. Yet you seem to have payed a mint for the priviledge of having your name attached to the longest entry here. Well isnt that what the Intrnets for? So every asshole and his cousin can see his words in print? What an opinated fucktard! Switch to DC and stfu.

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      1. Here it is in 2016 and I can’t believe I never noticed this comment! I don’t dislike X-Men at all – I love them and built my comic fandom upon them. They are amazing characters. That’s not the point of this. The point is picking apart what someone was paid to do with said characters in an objective perspective.

        And really I hope that in the three and a half years between comment and response you have learned to let people like what they want to like, not call people names (douche), and maybe even cleaned up the spelling of “opinionated” before you wrote “fucktard,” Tah.

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    2. you are so accurate, lobdell’s run was terrible that i had to endure it. only for the love of the characters is what made me buy the issues.

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      1. That’s something I didn’t get when I was reading them as a kid. When I started, I stopped buying the ongoing X-Men title at my local comic shop and instead bought the copies of X-Men Classic going through the Claremont/Paul Smith period. I just liked it so much more. But there really hasn’t been any REALLY good X-Men since the foundations beyond some stuff like Whedon and Morrison. But that shows to go you how amazing those foundations were that the characters can survive all the crap they’ve been put through since.

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  2. I love Azazel from Xmen first class, please under no circumstances allOw Austin near Xmen anymore. He killed one of the sweetest xmen ever, Nightcrawler. Fuck you Austin you assmunch!

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  3. “But below the flagship titles of New and Astonishing X-Men, the titles of Uncanny and X-Men would find the other side of that coin.”

    Erm wasn’t New X-Men the same book as the adjective-less X-Men, which later went on to become X-Men legacy or have I missed something?.

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    1. It’s just an oddly worded sentence While Grant Morrison’s New X-Men was running, Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men was the lesser book, along with Chris Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men. When Morrison left and Whedon came in, the lesser books were shuffled around, with X-Treme’s storyline going into Uncanny and Uncanny’s storyline going into X-Men.

      So what I meant was during Morrison’s run on New X-Men, Uncanny was the lesser book, and during Whedon’s run on Astonishing, X-Men (formerly New and soon to be Legacy) was the lesser book.

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      1. No, ‘The Boys’ was not in fact a bad series. Ennis is a vastly superior storyteller to Austen. It was simply not what that reader enjoys.

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  4. Comparing anything written by this horrible abominable horrible excuse of a writer to any of the works of Garth Ennis is just impossible.
    Chuck austen is in the same category as Liefeld, as JMS after Amazing Spider-Man., those 3 plus Quesada and Didio should be banned from any sort of involvement with comic books AD ETERNUM

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  5. Are you an Ennis fan?

    While I could care less about Austen one way or the other, too much of Ennis’ output is contemptible.

    Case in point: The Boys.

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    1. The entire point of ‘The Boys’ was superhero DECONSTRUCTION. And Ennis did it well. I say that as a reader of superhero comics since 1968. The fact you don’t care for deconstruction doesn’t make the story bad. It simply isn’t what you enjoy.

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