Thursday, March 26, 2020
Capsule Catch-Up - X-Men: Blue #1 (2017)
X-Men: Blue #1 (June, 2017)
Writer - Cullen Bunn
Art - Jorge Molina & Matteo Buffagni
Colors - Matt Milla
Letters - VC's Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists - Forget About it...
Assistant Editor - Christina Harrington
Editor - Mark Paniccia
Editor in Chief - Axel Alonso
Cover Price: $4.99
As the official launch of From Claremont to Claremont: An X-Men Podcast draws ever closer, I am trying my darnedest to "get into" the current batch of books. While, for the most part, I've enjoyed everything I've read... I can't help but to feel a little bit (okay, a lot-bit) lost. After being an X-Men fanatic for over 30 years, it's a very strange sensation to suddenly feel like you're a "new reader".
And so, I decided to try and catch myself up on everything I'd missed over the past few years... starting with the books that drove me away from the franchise in the first place! Those crazy "color" books... X-Men: Blue, X-Men: Gold... eventually X-Men: Red and that series of X-Men: Black books as well!
When these books first launched, even still being an avid X-Men reader at the time... I swear, I barely recognized any of the characters! I probably read the first six issues of both Blue and Gold before finally pulling the plug... well, I stopped reading them anyway... it took me quite a bit longer to drop them from my pull-list. Old habits, and all'at.
These "reviews", if we can call them that, are going to be pretty short... and, so long as I can help it: concise. This is basically a means to an end... where writing about these books gives me more of a reason to actually read them.
Before I get started, I want to preface with the fact that I'm going into this a little bit biased. I know this probably isn't a popular opinion, but, I find the writer of this title to be... rather dull. I can only think of one Cullen Bunn book that I enjoyed even a little bit, and that was a Green Lantern Corps miniseries before Rebirth over at DC. I've read my fair share of his work... in fairness it couldn't really be avoided, for a while there he was writing about 80% of mainstream comics' output. I'm sure he's a nice dude... and, I'm hoping in revisiting these issues, I'll come out of this with a more favorable opinion.
Now, X-Men: Blue features the time-displaced Original Five... ya know, the ones Bendis brought from the past... which, wasn't the actual past, but a different past... but, still they were the same people... or something? Yeah, them. There are some differences between these and the originals... Warren's got glowing wings, Hank's taken up mysticism, and Jean looks as though she's developed the secondary mutation to give herself really bad haircuts.
The team has been tracking a Cerebro ping all the way to a sea vessel in the Mediterranean. Jean immediately picks up some frantic psychic hoodoo. One thing that catches me right off the bat is the pretty incessant "sass" in this dialogue. I get that these are kids... and kids these days be sassy, but this is actually making me root against them.
Also, the "Fraptions"... I was hoping we were done with them when Matt Fraction left the book. You remember those, right? Those silly little add-ons in the introductory captions for each character? Here's one from this very issue for Jean.
Turns out the baddie they're tracking is Black Tom Cassidy... who, after a bit of a skirmish, introduces his partner in crime... duh, Juggernaut (with wacky "fraption"!). Now, I appreciate the attempt at making this feel "old school" by using some classic X-Villains, just the way we remember them... but, this feels more like the bad guys have been "frozen in amber", like plucked out of a comic from the early 90's, rather than having lived an actual life in the interim. I mean, Juggernaut was an X-Man for awhile... I'm pretty sure Black Tom was on X-Force for a bit!
Juggernaut actually manages to prove that he is from "current year" by pouncing toward Cyclops for killing Charles Xavier. They fight... and, outside the sassy banter, this is pretty well done. The Blue team comes out on top after Beast uses his mystic abilities to open a portal, which sends Juggs to Siberia. This ticks off Cyclops, suggesting that there might be a rift in the ranks oncoming.
The main portion of the story ends with, what I'm guessing is supposed to be a suspenseful scene where the team is checking in with their "boss". It's... Magneto. Which, ya know... maybe a little bit underwhelming, considering Magneto's been playing the hokey-pokey with the X-Men for the better part of five decades at this point?
The issue actually manages to pick up a bit with an epilogue which introduces Jimmy Hudson from the Ultimate Universe (Ultimate Comics: X) into the mainstream post-Secret Wars (2015) Marvel Universe. Jimmy whups him a Wendigo... and a lot of people wind up dead.
In revisiting this for the first time in like three years, I really can't figure out why this was the "straw that broke me", so to speak. It's certainly not my favorite take on the X-Men (time-displaced or otherwise), but there's nothing quite so bad here that I would actually end my three-decade long obsession with the property, ya know? Maybe it'll become more evident as we move forward... or, maybe I'll wind up realizing that I was just way overdue for a break from the franchise? Stranger things have happened...
I did not like the "sassy" dialogue, however, when he was able to reign that in, I thought Bunn did some great work here. The post-fight argument between Scott and Hank was especially strong... and actually makes me want to read further, just to see if this does lead to an actual schism.
The Magneto reveal... as mentioned, was underwhelming. Not that this issue was touted as having a "big reveal" or anything, but the way it was presented I get the feeling like I was supposed to have to pick my jaw up off the floor after seeing it.
Now, the epilogue... that was a lot fun. I was never really a fan of bringing the Ultimate characters over... but, I can totally see why they did it. The Ultimate books had been on life-support for years... no matter what sort of stunt Marvel pulled, it just never got back to the level of those exciting first few years of the line. Seeing Jimmy Hudson here... it worked, and honestly... if not for the contrived nature of Marvel cramming all the notable characters from the Ultimate Universe into the 616 at once, may have actually resulted in my having to pick my jaw up off the floor!
The art here, and I feel like artists these days (maybe especially at Marvel?) don't get near enough credit, is really good. Outside of Jean's very ugly haircut, I really dug the way this book looked. The Art Adams cover, well... it should go without saying, but it's really very nice.
I promise the future "capsule" reviews will be much shorter than this... least I hope they will be!