Sunday, February 22, 2009

(In a Nutshell: One Guy’s Take on Where the X-Men Went Astray, aka,) Whatever Happened to the Children of the Atom?

When I was a kid, the X-Men were hated by a world that didn't understand them. But I understood them: railed against for being different, trying to figure out their purpose(s), who to trust and where they fit in. The story kernel of "the outsider" is relatable.

Today, the X-Men are still hated by a world that doesn’t understand them. What's changed is that I’m not so sure their publisher understands them either.

Below are some of the larger points of disagreement that I have with the handling of the X-Men mythos over the last decade.

The release of the first X-Men film (2000)
The X-Men uploaded into the sleek patent-leather of The Matrix and Marvel got insanely paid. Duplication and emulation were bound to follow. It was good for the pocketbook, but would prove bad for the cohesiveness and integrity of the franchise. This coincided with Joe Quesada's appointment to Editor-in-Chief.

The creation of the Ultimate Universe (2000-2001)
As the casual fan (aka non-comic-reading-moviegoer) might not understand the "regular" comics (which disagree with the movie in several regards) a “do-over” of the X-Men mythos was in order. Sort of like “What If,” only less different and much longer. Still Matrixy.

Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (2001)
An attempt to Ultimatize™ the regular X-Men – well, I’ll limit myself to fifteen words on this one.

Magneto – addict,
Beast – a cat,
Cassandra Nova - Stupid.
Beak - really?
The villain was mold.

Wolverine Origin (2001-2002) and, vicariously, the second X-Men film (2003)
Purportedly, the rationale here was to tell Wolverine’s origin before the movie (X-Men 2) did. X-Men 2 touched briefly on the adamantium bonding process and the Weapon X story. It did not involve finding out that Logan was a 200+ year old prissy-pants named James who wore frilly shirts, or that Logan/James’ mom was kind of a whore.

Sidebar: Wolverine’s name: James Howlett. Get it? Like Howl? I despise character names that are supposed to “subtly” inform their personae. Like Steadfarst Everymann, Petale L'Delicat, or Honesty McGoodLawyer. But this is worse, because - you know what howls? Coyotes, wolves. Not Wolverines. Marvel loves to equate Wolverine with more esteemed creatures. Guys – he’s not some forest spirit and he isn’t noble. Wolverines are short little hairy ugly fighty guys who kind of grunt at you. They could’ve at least named him James Offputting, or James Fartsnstabs.

Real Wolverine

This is a real wolverine, which probably weighs less than 50 lbs.

Astonishing X-Men (2004)
Unlike Ultimate X-Men, which has the decency to take place outside of normal continuity, Astonishing takes a fence-straddling approach that can only be described as, “these editors don’t talk to each other, or they don’t care, or they don’t think the readers will.” Since the book sells through the roof, apparently they were right about most potential readers. Also, Colossus is back. And he never died. Also, more Cassandra Nova. And space. (Whedon.)

Wolverine Origins (2006)
Six words here.

Written by Daniel Way.
Also, Daken.

Daken Sings
Sing it loud, buddy.
If only, "tonight you'd be gone."

The X-Men move to San Francisco (2008)
‘Nuff Said.
Also, Mr. Sinister is a chick now.

In closing, please note:
I do not hate Joe Quesada, Grant Morrison, or the entire work of either. Yes, I paid money to see all three X-Men films (though not any of the other Marvel films). I do not think the Ultimate Universe completely sucks.

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