Welcome back to Mutantversity, a class offered at the Stately Xavier Mansion. This isn’t a place to find big reviews of X-books, but it’s a great way to keep up with one of the most complicated superhero books around. We’ll learn, we’ll laugh, maybe we’ll make some new friends, maybe we’ll witness some bad guys get burned alive. We will definitely check in with the always fabulous Mister Sinister. As your designated X-Pert, I will do my best to help you work through everything Marvel’s Merry Mutants have to offer!
First we’re going to recap the last month of the ongoing superhero soap opera that is “X-Men.” Next, I’ll tell you which X-Men books I looked at this month, and whether I thought they were worth reading. Then, we’re going to spotlight a creator who brought a rare level of X-cellence to the line. Finally, we’re going to award our Monthly Mutantversity Medals of Merit. Stick with me true believers, and maybe we’ll survive this experience!
This Month in X-Men
As we ramp up for the next next big era in “X-Men,” you can feel this story losing momentum. But that doesn’t mean anything happened. In fact, a whole lot did! Last month, Wolfsbane was killed and people did not take it well. That includes people in real life, many of whom didn’t appreciate the heavy-handed subtext about transphobia. Matthew Rosenberg has since apologized and explained his intentions, and he’s still got quite a bit of “X-Men” coming out, so let’s dive in!
After the bombshell revelation that Emma Frost has erased herself from the memory of all the X-Men, the team… is still pursuing the villains on Cyclops’ list. This month’s erstwhile enemies: the Marauders! If there’s a scarier group of mutant killers, I’ve never met ’em. The team, which is now made up of Chamber, Karma, Mirage, Magik, Cyclops, Multiple Man, Juggernaut, Hope, Banshee, and Havok, faced down the baddies on the subway. Chamber burned most of the Marauders in a murderous blast of starfire, but was still stabbed in the process. And he… died. A lot of B-list X-Men are getting killed off all of a sudden!
His last words? “%$@# you Summers. You killed me. %$@# you forever.” Yeah, that tracks.
Back at the base, everything is on fire. The reason? Freaking Mister Sinister showed up, and where Sinister goes, an inferno follows. (See what I did there?) The Marauders have often acted as Sinister’s assassins and when you kill them, well that just makes him mad as heck. So there’s another big superhero fight, culminating in Havok using all his solar energy to blast Sinister into bits. Looks like Old Man Essex forgot his vulnerability to Summers family energy blasts.
With their hideaway destroyed, the X-Men head to… a secret penthouse base that Karma has owned this entire time but not told anyone about, I guess because would you want the X-Men hiding out in your penthouse? Wolverine obviously leaves so much hair in the shower drain and doesn’t clean it up. Banshee has been dead since 2006 and is now a smelly, withered, mummy-thing. Hope learned hygiene from Cable in the post-apocalyptic future. Not good roommates is what I’m saying.
And Emma and Mystique are still out there and maybe we’ll get to square off with them in the next issue. So there’s that to look forward to.
OK, the Age of X-Man. In the alternate universe where love is forbidden, everything is coming to a head. There’s only one month left of this series, so all the unrequited love is getting consummated, secrets are being revealed, and final showdowns are brewing all over the place. The X-Kids are inches from discovering that their world is fake. Jean and Magneto are on the verge of making a decision about Nate Grey. Psylocke and Blob are discretely hooking up. Rictor, Iceman, Northstar, and Jubilee are starting a big gay riot. That’s probably in the top 3 best kinds of riots.Continued below
With all the excitement of a brand new set of X-titles (which we will talk about in just a second) it’s difficult to focus. Which kind of sucks, because there are so many strong titles coming out right now, but hey, that’s comics! One day this will all be some cult classic era that most people don’t remember but you insist was really good and worth revisiting, but everyone ignores you because the first part of the the story wasn’t as strong as it later became. What? I’m not bitter about “Academy X”/”New X-Men.” Not at all.
X Titles May 2019
There are a lot of X-books to keep track of. That’s one of the reasons we do a recap, so you can keep up with the broad strokes of the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe. Maybe you want to follow along, but aren’t sure which X-books are worth picking up. Mutantversity has you covered. Here are the X-books in consideration for the month, and a lightning round opinion on their quality.
“Uncanny X-Men” #18 – Even a fight with Mister Sinister couldn’t give this meandering issue a central focus. Not the strongest entry in this run.
“Age of X-Man: Nextgen” #4 – What can I say? I still love seeing all these kids star in a book. Good ensemble, well characterized.
“Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts” #3 – This series once showed a lot of promise, but unfortunately it is not coming together.
“Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler” #4 – movie studio intrigue should feel more salacious and thrilling.
“Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men” #4 – of every issue in this miniseries, this one had the clearest statement of purpose.
“Age of X-Man: X-Tremists” #4 – Oh snap! Did I enjoy a Northstar issue? This is shaping up to be the most memorable part of “Age of X-Man.”
“X-23” #12 – Nasty, brutish, and… turkeys? Laura and Gabby can’t catch a break. No joke, if you like being sad, you won’t be disappointed.
“Major X” #3 – this series continues to be published.
“Major X” #4 – Atlantis shows up, Deadpool fights a more evil Deadpool, if this is gonna be your kind of thing, you’d know by now. It ain’t mine.
“X-Force” #7 – I’d call this series a quiet success, but nothing it does could be described as quiet.
“X-Force” #8 – OK, it took me a while but I am won over by the time travel, explosions, and angst. Or: “Major X” but high quality.
“War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men” #2 – not setting the world on fire, but a decent team of X-listers. Fun but non essential.
“X-Men: Grand Design: X-Tinction” #1 – Mutant Massacre, Fall of the Mutants, and Inferno is one gorgeous issue? Hell yeah. Don’t sleep on this x-cellent series.
Special Spotlight: Jonathan Hickman
Jonathan Hickman is neither obscure nor technically an X-Men writer yet, but I wanted to spotilght him before his run gets started. Hickman is fairly prolific, but he’s most famous for an epic run of Marvel books that started in 2009 with “Secret Warriors.” Hickman then wrote the definitive “Fantastic Four” run of the 21st century so far, completely reshaped and then destroyed the entire Ultimate line, and wrote my favorite “Avengers” run of the last 20 years. It all culminated in “Secret Wars” in 2015. the most ambitious and successful crossover event Marvel has ever done. It included a take on the Night’s Watch from Game of Thrones, but the wall was built out of Ben Grimm and the White Walkers were the Marvel Zombies. It was awesome. His comics are dense, trippy, and sometimes inscrutible, but that could also describe Grant Morrison, and you people love that guy.
And he’s compeltely derailing the X-line, which was feeling stronger than it had since “AvX.” So that’s a bummer. But I’m going to try to look on the bright side. Hickman does big and epic better than anyone else at Marvel. He’s never written X-Men, but he has a deep affection for the characters, especially the New Mutants, who showed up throughout his other series. Here’s a guy who doesn’t do things in half measures, and who has enough clout to tell the story he wants to tell. Marvel seemed commited to the current line of X-books, only to cancel them when the next sexy writer came along. But if Hickman wants to be the king of X-Men for a couple of years, they are going to let him.Continued below
So what’s this great new idea that has everyone so excited? It’s still a secret, but the good hosts of the Battle of the Atom podcast have a solid idea. If they are right, you are welcome for sharing it with you. If they are wrong, hey, take it up with them! They think the X-Men are… moving to Mars. Woah woah woah, hear me out. Hickman started his Avengers run with a being named Ex Nihilo (Ex? X *Illuminati Sign*) building an Eden-like garden on Mars. At the end of the run, that garden is still there and empty. And the previews for Hickman’s X-Men have been in a gorgeous jungle with a red sky and weird portals. So it’s looking pretty likely. Maybe the X-Men are taking on a more cosmic role? And how will humans feel about a group they hate and fear taking over an entire planet? Hickman’s run hasn’t yet started, but he’s a fascinating creator. Let’s try to go into “House of X” and “Powers of X” with hope!
The Mutantversity Monthly Medals of Merit
The Cable’s Pouch of X-Treme Grittiness Award
Given to a mutant for demonstrating badassitude and commitment to the 90s aesthetic
“I wanna look like Emperor Palpatine, but fabulous and made of knives.” -Stryfe probably. Then he hires an insane time-displaced cyborg sea captain to help him torture his clone/brother. The dream of the 90s is alive in Stryfe. We salute you sir. We’d give you a high five, but your hands are made of knives.
“Call Me Alex” Award
Given to a mutant filled with self-loathing about their identity
It’s often really sad to be Logan. He’s a lone wolf who’s on 10 teams. He’s a violent superhero who loves kids. He wants to protect people, but he has the most dangerous enemies. So do I blame him for quitting the team. Yeah, I do a little. He’s still palling around with Conan the Barbarian and Loki and everyone else. It’s just the X-Men he’s turning his back on. And he’s lost some friends, having a really hard time of it. Sure I get it. But no one does feeling sorry for yourself quite as epic as the man called Wolverine.
“Professor Xavier is a Jerk” Award
Given to a mutant who acted like a real jerk
On the one hand, talking ill of the dead is uncool. But on the other hand, I think Chamber would take this as a compliment? No one worked harder than Jono Starsmore (who incidentally had the best name in all of comics) at being a jerk. He was a grumpy, prickly, cranky bastard to all who knew him. His last words were an f-bomb lobbed at his long time boss and colleague. Chamber tried as hard as he could to be a jerk, and he sure got there.
Merriest Mutant Award
Given to a mutant who found a rare moment of happiness
Julio is such a sad sack that even the most basic decency seems like a luxury to him. I’ve recently been re-reading the run of “X-Factor” that starts with his attempted suicide, so the bar is set. But in the Age of X-Man he seems to be doing OK! Since all love is illegal, there’s not a particular stigma put on being gay, so he’s just part of the hip and happening underground love scene in his world. And when he runs into a couple of other gay X-Men he just bros out with them. It takes a certain kind of person to find joy asleep on the couch with your flaky friends, but for Rictor that’s living the high life! He slept so peacefully and he loves his friends so much, even if they don’t deserve it.
Fastball Special Award
Given to a duo who exhibited great friendship, collaboration, and teamwork
Emma Frost & Mystique
In this entire month, Emma Frost and Mystique showed up for a single three-panel page, but what a page it was. Emma was in a thronelike purple armchair in black lingerie-and-cape drinking a martini (as she is wont to do). Mystique stood at her side wearing a sheer cleavage-bearing white suit (as she is wont to do). They look like they got invited to the Met Gala, dressed up for it, and then realized they would have more fun if they stayed at home. From their body language, it looks like Mystique is waiting on Emma (who is after all, the Black Queen) but I don’t believe that for a second. Emma can be harsh, but she respects powerful duplicitous women. And Mystique loves teaming up with a cutthroat, passionate partner. I think we are looking at the dawning of the greatest female friendship in the history of the X-Men.
Let’s Talk About X Baby Award
Given to the sweetest, sexiest, bestest romantic couple
Kitty & Colossus
First of all, Kitty needs to take a break from guys named Peter. No Parker, no Quill, no Wisdom, and definitely, definitely no Rasputin. Them cancelling their wedding was a great idea. Their relationship was cute when he was her teenage crush, sweet when they got together as adults, but since then it’s been rocky, and it’s been clear that even though they have deep feelings, they are bad for each other. But put in a little conflict, and suddenly the romance is back? Kitty is part of a free-love terrorist group. Colossus is a rigid repressed cop sworn to stop her. Can I make it anymore obvious? I really like their chemistry in “Age of X-Man.” They are superficially adversarial, but there’s something smoldering there beneath the surface. She can’t stop thinking about him. He can’t stop painting her. Their love is forbidden, and now it’s sexy all over again. But seriously, enough with the Peters. Maybe there’s a nice, I don’t know, Rachel? That she could date? Just a thought.
MVX: Most Valuable X-Man
Given to an X-Man who embodied the values of the team and showed all around X-cellence
Look, Cain Marko is not a mutant. He’s not a nice guy. He’s not even particularly competent. But he works so hard. He’s always been the kind of villain who will rampage for a paycheck, but if you spotted him buying a slice of ‘za, he’d say whats up and what off. He’s very live and let live. When he found out the man he was following wasn’t Magneto but the crappy clone of Magneto, he decided to defect to the good guys. Who can’t respect that? And since joining the X-Men he’s put them on the trail of Emma Frost, saved the lives of his teammates, and the team’s prisoners. Is a great hero? No way, but he tries harder than anyone else, and he’s constantly underestimated. Since he’s not a real mutant, Emma forgot to erase his memory. For hard work, a good attitude, and surprising cunning, ‘ol Juggernaut is out Most Valuable X-Man. Cyttorak should be proud.