Welcome to Week 2 of our new ongoing column answering the question “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?” That’s right, it’s, X-Men: Bland Design! This week there are five X-Books on the stands, which will cost you a total of $20 to read, but deliver about the same story content as a single issue did for 25 cents forty years ago.
Here’s the plan: Just as Ed Piskor is condensing decades of X-Men history into a few issues in X-Men: Grand Design, we’re condensing a week’s worth of X-Men comics into several clickbait articles, in which we’ll likely make the same repetitive complaints about how comics have changed for the worse while getting more expensive. This week, we’ve got X-Men: Gold #20, Weapon X #13, All-New Wolverine #29, Generation X #86, and Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #4. You can see read every X-Men: Bland Design column going back to the very beginning (which was last week) at this link.
Next up is Generation X #86…
Generation X #86
Writer: Christina Strain
Artist: Amilcar Pinna
Colorist: Felipe Sobreira
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Generation X #86 is the second part of the Survival of the Fittest storyline. The recap page tells us all we need to know: Monet has gone evil and is preying on the X-students, having “unsynced” the school from reality to have free reign while Jubilee and the X-Men are out of town, while Quentin Quire and Krakoa the Living Island have left the school in one of Quentin’s temper tantrums.
We pick up on a beach “somewhere in the Atlantic,” where Jubilee is coming to talk Quentin into coming back. Quentin plays a prank on her by moving Krakoa as she’s about to land. Jubilee tries to lecture him, but Quentin hits her with some teenage angst. She feels bad for him because he’s had a rough life, and his antagonistic exterior is a cover for his internal anguish. She tells him she wants him to come home, but he has to choose the X-Men as his family. Amongst Generation X’s many old school charms, X-pository dialogue and a caption box fills us in on what happened in another series:
Quentin’s temper tantrum is interrupted when Jubilee’s Apple Watch informs her of the school’s Monet predicament. Back at the school, Nathaniel, Trevor, Benjamin, and Lin are babysitting Shogo, Jubilee’s son, when a telepathic message from Chamber tells them Monet is about to eat them for lunch. Chamber battles Monet as the kids escape, meeting up with Roxy, Husk, and an incapacitated Hellion and Noriko. With that, Generation X features more mutants, and cooler ones, than any other X-Book on the stands this week.
As Husk and Chamber battle Monet, Benjamin throws himself in the path of falling debris to save Nathaniel. Why? Because he luuuvvvvs him. Awww! They share a kiss… well, sort of. Nathaniel needs to practice safe sex to prevent his powers from exposing Ben’s inner thoughts and ruining their burgeoning relationship.
As the battle spills into the classroom, Monet grabs Nathaniel to drain his energy, but that also activates his powers, showing him Monet’s memories. The exchange works both ways, with Monet experiencing some of Nathanial’s most painful memories. Horrified, she breaks the connection, allowing Nathaniel to tell the others that D.O.A. is the key to syncing the school before passing out. Lin and Trevor (and Shogo) go to stop him while Roxy and Benjamin take on Monet. Lin engages an army of rats to break D.O.A.’s concentration, allowing Jubilee and Quentin to show up to save the day.
But not so fast… Monet rips off Jubilee’s necklace, which protected her from taking Vampire damage in the sunlight. As she starts to burn up, Quentin shows his true colors — he’s a big softy — by sacrificing his shard of the Phoenix force to burn the vampirism right out of her. Screw you, Victor Gischler! The old Jubilee is back!
In the ResurrXion era of X-Men, Generation X and Iceman have been two of my favorite books, so it’s no surprise that both have been canceled. The whole ordeal is an unfortunate consequence of the decompression of comics and “writing for the trade,” combined with Marvel’s disgusting price-gouging. X-Men comics back in the day were chock full of story. A single Claremont issue had like 37 ongoing side-plots moving forward in it in addition to the main plot. But because comics have exponentially decreased the amount of content contained in a single issue (while exponentially increasing the price), the two core X-Books have taken to mostly focusing on a single story for five or six issues, and the juicy, dramatic side-plots and character development (like Iceman struggling with his place in the world or the teenage relationship drama in Generation X) gets relegated to supplemental series. Even your Wolverine stuff needs to get split into three separate ongoings nowadays.
But because comics cost four dollars a pop and Marvel double-ships both (soon to be three) core X-titles each month, fans need to budget, and fans have the impression that the “important” stuff is going to happen in the core X-books. But they’re missing out on all the best character work. Likewise, readers of just the supplemental books are missing out on the action epics. If you can afford to shell out $100 a month to follow all the X-books, you can get roughly the experience you once did by dropping less than five bucks on Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, and Wolverine in the 1980s. If you’re only reading some of the X-books, the result is likely unsatisfying because it’s missing some elements of the complete X-Men picture, and you’re still paying way too much money anyway for an entertainment experience, time-wise, that won’t even carry you through an entire bathroom trip.
Only a drastic rethinking of the monthly publishing format will resolve this, and Marvel is too short-sighted and corporate for that kind of innovation, so your best bet is to just take out a second mortgage and plunk down the hundred smackers for every X-Book Marvel publishes if you want the true X-perience.
Or, you could just read our recaps for free.