Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: “What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?”
It’s been a rough decade or so for X-Men fans. As part of Ike Perlmutter‘s feud with Fox over the Fantastic Four movie rights, Marvel’s greatest franchise has suffered many an indignity. Cyclops turned into a villain by writers and editors with a Wolverine fetish. The worst crossover of all time, Avengers vs. X-Men. A serious attempt to replace mutants with the Inhumans, thankfully killed by the god-awful Inhumans TV show. Greg Land. But that’s all over now (except for Land). With a Marvel/Fox deal on the horizon, the Fantastic Four can return, but more importantly, Marvel can give a crap about the X-Men again!
Each week, we aim to recap what happened in all of the X-books, make a few jokes, and struggle to survive the experience as we reckon our love for our favorite characters with what can often feel like a “quantity-over-quality” approach to comic booking.
Last week, we didn’t have time to recap the X-books due to all the C2E2 news we had to cover, which means we’ve got to catch up. To do that, we’ve got to read and recap 13 — yes, 13 — X-books in one weekend. Is that even possible? We’re about to find out!
SALADIN AHMED (W) • JAVIER RODRIGUEZ (A)
Cover by DAVID MARQUEZ
Variant cover by Javier Rodriguez
Variant cover by Jesus Saiz
Character variant cover by Mike McKone
DESIGN VARIANT COVER BY JAVIER RODRIGUEZ
INTRODUCING THE ALL-NEW VALKYRIE!
DON’T BLINK – THE EXILES ARE BACK!
Fan-favorite X-Man Blink once joined a team destined to save not just the world, but the entire Multiverse. And now, her teleporting talents are needed once again! When a mysterious threat begins eating away at the fabric of the Multiverse, the Unseen – the man once known as Nick Fury who now can only observe Earth from a lofty post on the moon – must recruit a champion to save it. But she can’t do it alone. Who will join Blink’s new team – and can they ever go home again?
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
We have to admit, we’ve never read an Exiles comic before, so we have no idea what we’re getting into here. It’s the perfect opportunity to see if Marvel is able to competently explain one of its comics to someone who isn’t already a dedicated reader of them. We don’t have much faith based on past experience in this column, and especially after reading two issues of Venomized in a row, but we’re cautiously optimistic this will be the one where Marvel turns things around.
The recap page is a good start:
The issue starts out on the moon, with The Unseen providing an X-pository inner monologue. He used to be Nick Fury, but Marvel needed a Nick Fury who looked more like Samuel L. Jackson, so they introduced his inexplicably Black son, Nick Fury Jr., and then the old Nick Fury was turned into the Unseen by angry watchers, chained to the moon and cursed to watch everything that happens in the Marvel Multiverse. He should consider writing a weekly recap column on Bleeding Cool about it.
The Unseen explains that the multiverse is being destroyed, one earth at a time. However, an alternate-universe version of Nick Fury arrives bringing a device called The Talus, which the Unseeen explains is the “jeweled heart of the multiverse, forged to guide heroes through countless realities to preserve all of space-time.” Fury dies and disappears, but the Talus is activated, and now it just needs a hero to save the Multiverse.
That seems as good a time as any to cut to Earth, specifically The Bahamas, where Blink is eating lobsters with her auntie. She senses the Talus, and departs immediately for the moon. There, she meets The Unseen, who tells her the Multiverse is being destroyed by something called the Time-Eater, and it needs Blink to save it. Blink says she usually deals with lower-level threats and he should try the Avengers or Doctor Strange, but The Unseen says the Multiverse itself wants Blink. Blink continues to argue, so the Talus cuts to the chase, bonds itself to her arm, and teleports her to another universe.
In this universe, Jersey City is a ruined wasteland, and Blink is greeted by a Mad Max style crew of Inhumans, who explain that most of the mutants and Inhumans are dead. They suspect Blink of working for the humans to exterminate Inhumans. Look, that awful TV show did the job, no other assistance toward that goal is required. Blink explains she’s actually there for help, but when the Talus begins to power up, they attack and make quick work of here.
Later, Blink wakes up, in the custody of the Inhuman leader, an aged Kamala Kahn!
Blink explains that she’s a big Ms. Marvel fan, and she needs her help to save the Multiverse and stuff. Kamala reads Blink’s vitals to determine she’s not lying and orders her minions to unchain her. As soon as they do, the Time-Eater attacks and starts eating the world around Blink and Kamala. The Talus activates and teleports Blink and Kamala away. Kamala is pissed, but Blink explains the Talus has a mind of its own, and besides, it’s halfway through the comic and they have a whole team to assemble.
Blink says that there might be a way to save Kamala’s universe and all the disappearing universes for that matter, but first, they need to follow the guidance of the Talus and get a good team together. They’re in some kind of future universe, as we can tell by the flying cars, and Nate Richards, Iron Lad, of Young Avengers fame, is there. Blink mistakes him for Iron Man, opening up the opportunity for some more X-pository dialog. It seems he’s just gotten his armor, and he’s using it to pay back high school bullies for picking on him.
Blink tells him to let the kids go, as the Talus wants them to join her team. Iron Lad is impressed that they’re time-travelers, like his buddy Kang the Conqueror. Kang built Iron Lad his suit, he explains, because Nate is a actually past version of Kang himself and thought that if Nate could overcome his bullies, he could get started earlier on his quest for domination (but if he did that, would he still build the suit? time travel is hard). A caption box tells us to go read Young Avengers for more info. Blink tells Iron Lad he’s going to need to join their team and go save the Multiverse, but Kang shows up to stop them. So does the Time-Eater, though, which eats Kang. And now, we get our first look at who this Time-Eater is…
We went into this knowing essentially nothing about the Exiles, but this comic did a fantastic job of explaining everything. It was easier to follow in many ways than some of the X-Books we’ve been reading for 30 years. Marvel should make a concerted effort to include this kind of stuff in every single issue of every single comic, to make those comics friendlier to new readers. It would be a lot more helpful than constant reboots and super-mega-crossover events. But what do we know, right? We just read 13 freaking X-books in one sitting, and we really need an nap.