When we first learned that Jonathan Hickman would be taking over the X-Men in July, I was a little worried. When I learned that Hickman’s two six-issue mini-series would lead to a full relaunch of the X-Men line, I was less than thrilled. Having had some time to think about it, my feelings remain mixed. And what better way to convey mixed feelings than with a listicle?
With that in mind, here’s two reasons I’m not looking forward to the Hickboot…
Hickman’s superhero comics can be far too long, slow, and boring.
Seriously, nobody needs a 100-issue epic requiring complex charts and symbols to explain. The X-Men are at their best as soap opera drama with powers, and I’m not sure they really benefit from an intellectual approach. Just give me mutant makeout sessions, impassioned arguments about the role of mutantkind, time travel nonsense, and characters struggling against their natures and overcoming their flaws. Hickman might deliver some of that… but it just doesn’t seem ambitious enough for him and I fear we’re going to get some grand tale where the characters serve the story instead of the other way around. I got bored reading Hickman’s Avengers run sometime around the first super-mega-crossover event, Infinity, and I completely skipped the rest of it, including the entire Secret Wars super-mega-crossover event. But when it comes to the X-books, I’m physically unable to stop reading them, no matter how bad they get.
Relaunching comic books is stupid.
For decades, comics were capable of both adding readers and ushering in “new eras” without relaunching with a new #1 issue. In fact, Chris Claremont’s long run as writer of Uncanny X-Men itself contained several different eras without rebooting the title once. But nowadays, especially at Marvel, it seems like titles get rebooted every 10-20 issues, sometimes without even changing a creative team. Not only is this confusing even for longtime readers, but it also makes the books feel less “important,” at least to me, though your mileage may vary. It’s particularly egregious when it comes to the X-Books because Uncanny X-Men just returned six months ago and it’s already slated to be canceled and, presumably, rebooted after the Hickboot, though there’s no guarantee the flagship title will actually be called Uncanny X-Men.
The bottom line is that Marvel has a relaunch problem, and even without Hickman involved, we probably would have gotten a relaunch of the X-Books sooner than later anyway… but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
But despite these misgivings, the prospects of Hickman taking over X-Men isn’t all bad. There’s some reasons to be excited as well. Here’s two of them…
Hickman will bring prestige to the X-Men again.
One of the big benefits of Jonathan Hickman taking over the X-Men is that Marvel will have no choice but to finally treat the X-Men with the respect they deserve. In his initial interview about the relaunch with ComicBook.com, Hickman flat out stated this as one of the goals:
So I argued for cancelling the entire line: Why it would work, why it was a good idea, and most importantly, why it was what we needed to do narratively to return the X-Men to their rightful prominent position in the Marvel Universe.
The problem the X-Men have suffered from, basically since Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men, along with the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was Marvel intentionally downplaying the importance of the X-Men in favor of the Avengers because Fox owned the movie rights to X-Men. This led to the cancellation of the Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon, the elimination of X-Men merchandise, and the comics taking a backseat to other franchises Marvel viewed as more lucrative in terms of multimedia synergy.
Rob Liefeld said this as well when talking about the project that would later be revealed to be Major X:
Here’s the deal. Since the X-Men movies came out and Disney didn’t have them, I don’t know if you’ve ever paid attention, but Marvel kind of turned the volume down on the X-Men for almost 20 years. Now that they have them more, what was told to me was, ‘Oh yeah. Our budgets on the X-Men books are back up to what they used to be because now we own them all.’
Jonathan Hickman is one of the few “names” in comics that will confer a legitimate “A-List” feel to the X-Men, so in that regard, we couldn’t possibly be happier.
Hickman seems very committed to doing something “different” with the X-Men.
In his interview with ComicBook.com, Hickman described recent X-Men stories as “a nostalgic feedback loop” where “everyone is telling X-Men stories about other X-Men stories.” And he has a point. Marvel and Hickman have promoted this relaunch as a seminal moment in X-Men history, akin to Giant Size X-Men #1. If we take them at their word — and I understand that’s an iffy prospect considering Marvel hypes literally every single project they do as changing the Marvel Universe forever — then Hickman isn’t planning to rehash old stories here. He legitimately intends to look to the future of the X-Men and not the past. And if that’s truly the case, then it’s definitely a good thing.
Alright, enough of that. Time to get to recapping last week’s X-Books…
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities, but with a corporate merger on the way, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
Uncanny X-Men #18
(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Carlos Villa (CA) Whilce Portacio
• First…the X-Men lose one of their own.
• Then…the new Black King of the Hellfire Club makes a move.
In Shops: May 15, 2019
The issue opens with Wolverine telling Magick he’s leaving the X-Men and warning her not to trust them. Then we cut to the subway, where the X-Men (sans Wolverine) confront the Marauders over slaughtering the Morlocks. The Morlocks deny any knowledge of this, but Chamber, who was living with the Morlocks before the massacre, attacks. After a brief battle, the Marauders surrender, but Chamber goes all Daenerys Targaryen on them and burns them all. A charred Harpoon stabs Chamber through the chest and Hope shoots Harpoon in the head. The X-Men leave, and the Marauders are all dead.
The X-Men arrive at Harry’s hideaway to find the place on fire. Juggernaut heads inside to rescue Warlox (what they’re calling Warlock using a Madrox dupe as a host body) and Dark Beast, but Kwannon is nowhere to be found. Mister Sinister is there. He says he came to talk, but when he realized the X-Men were murdering the Marauders, he decided to pull a Seth Rollins and burn it down. A battle ensues, in which Sinister calls on a bunch of Sinister clones (or something), who all merge together into one giant Sinister. Havok goes nuclear to defeat Mega-Sinister, but this causes Havok to almost lose molecular cohesion.
The X-Men relocate to a new headquarters, a swanky apartment set up by Karma. Havok recuperates in bed, though he is now in a semi-ghostlike state. Karma tells Mirage that the new headquarters is a goodbye present because she’s leaving the X-Men, hopefully not to get murdered like Wolfsbane. Cyclops and Havok have a brief chat about Emma Frost, who neither remembers knowing, and Cyclops leaves to call Captain America, who passed him his digits a few issues ago. But on the final page, we see Emma and Mystique chilling at the Hellfire club and Mystique gets a call on her cellphone from Scott Summers. Oh snap!
The Uncanny X-Men farewell tour rockets toward its conclusion ahead of Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men relaunch and I have to admit, knowing this is all going to get essentially rebooted in a few months takes away some of the gravity of Matthew Rosenberg’s bloodthirsty killing spree. Still, nostalgia is as nostalgia does, and Uncanny X-Men has been playing the X-Men’s greatest hits, which continues to be satisfying in its own right.
Age of X-Man: NextGen #4
(W) Ed Brisson (A) Marcus To (CA) Chris Bachalo
THE AGE OF X-MAN CONTINUES!
• The Age of X-Man is coming apart at the seams!
• The students are working on multiple fronts, but they need to put the pieces together before someone finds out!
• Someone may already be onto their trail!
In Shops: May 15, 2019
As the issue opens, Armor walks in on Glob Herman covering Rockslide’s head in his body wax in an attempt to protect him from mindwiping and bring him into the fold of people who see what’s truly going on in the Age of X-Man. Unfortunately, the sticky festivities will have to wait because Armor explains what happened last issue, with Pixie catching her talking to Anole and probably alerting the authorities right now. They need to go to the address Anole gave Armor. They head off campus, brushing off an invite to dinner from Shark-Girl, as Pixie does indeed rat them out to Sunfire and Angel.
At Maggott’s safehouse, where Anole’s clique of radical Apocalypse followers are hiding out, Anole arrives and warns them that the X-Men may be onto them and they need to proceed with their plan of blowing up the library ASAP. Back at the school, the X-Tremists arrive and begin investigating Armor’s disappearance, soon learning that she left campus with Glob and Rockslide. Speaking of which, the trio arrive at Maggott’s safehouse and immediately get into a fight with the group, despite protestations that they are sort of on the same side, when Glob mouths off about how Apocalypse is a villain in the real world. During the fight, Rockslide finds the blueprints to the library and the kids realize what’s going on. They rush to stop Anole, but arrive just as the library is blowing up. Whoops!
The Age of X-Man has been a disappointing event as a whole, but some of the minis have been really good, and NextGen is one of them. Of course, that’s because characters like Glob, Armor, Rockslide, and Anole are excellent and thrive in pretty much any setting. Give me an endless supply of stories starring the X-teens, please!
Congratulations to the creative team on winning the Wolverine’s Weiner X-Pick of the Week!
Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #4
(W) Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson (A) Marco Failla (CA) Phil Noto
THE AGE OF X-MAN CONTINUES!
Is the world beginning to crumble or are the X-Men going mad? The protectors of the perfect planet of peace find themselves pushed to the edge.
In Shops: May 15, 2019
It’s Xavier Day, which means it’s time for a wild celebration on the streets of London… well, as wild as it can get when sex and personal relationships are outlawed. The X-Men and the X-Tremists are on the lookout for Apocalypse and his X-Tracts, who announced last issue they would appear at the celebration for shenanigans. Sure enough, Apocalypse shows up and starts preaching about Charles Xavier’s sex life, which gets Colossus so horny, he makes out with Kitty Pryde.
Apocalypse encourages the “lustful feast” on the streets before disappearing to avoid capture by the X-Men. Reluctantly, at Magneto’s urging, Jean uses her powers to shut down the orgy and send everyone home. What a party pooper!
Back at X-Men headquarters, the X-Men resolve to fight Apocalypse and debate killing him, but they’re interrupted by news reports of giants fissures opening all over the world, showing visions of the true past. X-Man tells the X-Men to get some rest before going after Apocalypse while he and Jean deal with these. As they head off to do that, X-Man tells Jean that the other X-Men can’t handle what’s in the fissures, but she can. As they fly around the world shutting them down, they see visions of the true past, moments from Lifedeath, X-Men Red, and other comics, but Jean rejects them as propaganda from Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, Colossus, feeling invigorated by his makeout session with Kitty and also seeing visions of the two of them together when she phased through him at the celebration, tosses his X-Men uniform in the garbage and decides to head out to pursue a life together with her. The X-Tremists are waiting for him and a fight ensues. While all of this is going on, X-23, who has been keeping to herself what she’s seen in the rifts, begins poking around her house. She can smell the presence of a man there, and when she searches more, she finds Bishop’s secret closet full of weaponry. In the Age of X-Man Alpha, we saw Bishop arrested for doing it with Jean Grey and his spot in the X-Men given to X-23, with everyone mindwiped to forget he ever existed. Before X-23 can figure this out, Nature Girl rings her doorbell to report there’s been a murder.
I’ve been down on this event, and this “main” mini-series in particular, but this issue wasn’t too bad. Perhaps, though, it’s just a sense of relief that this whole thing is almost over and we can get back to the “real world” soon… only for Hickman to immediately reboot that.
Haven’t had enough of the Hickboot yet? Well, strap in, because it doesn’t even start for two more months! In the meantime, more information was revealed at the Diamond Retailer Summit.
We also learned about the parties Marvel is planning to hold at comic shops to promote the relaunch (there ain’t no party like a relaunch party ’cause a relaunch party don’t stop).
And Hickman himself held court over in Adventures in Poor Taste’s X-Men Monday column, where he talked all about the X-Men and the upcoming relaunch. As always, it’s well worth a read, but be warned… not only did Chris Hassan once again cruelly refuse to ask about when Chris Claremont will be allowed to write an ongoing series, but he’s begun targeting other X-perts as well.
Wild that Johnny Hix loves all the same stuff as me right?
I swear most of these are the same answers I would have given. https://t.co/BlInZ38h0z
— Xavier Files (@XavierFiles) May 20, 2019
@judeterror… is that you?
— Chris Hassan (@ChrisAHassan) May 20, 2019
— Xavier Files (@XavierFiles) May 20, 2019
Does Chris Hassan’s thirst for power know no bounds?! Will he stop at nothing to achieve complete and total control over the flow of all X-information?!
After a brief lull the past two weeks, Marvel is back to their regular schedule of five weekly X-Books, so expect a long one next Monday.
Read more X-ual Healing here: