ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!

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It’s been a while since I gave my thoughts on the initial ResurrXion line-up. Well, the ones that were announced right away, at least. I completely missed Black Bolt and Old Man Logan continuing, and it just got to the point that they became old news. If you want my opinions on that real quick, I’ll give them real quick at the end of this post.

I’m not here to focus on those series. For you see, today I get to do what I love most: act like a bitch and be super smug! And why? Well, Charles Soule is returning to the X-Men as the writer of a new Astonishing X-Men series! Yes, the same Charles Soule who wrote the mostly good (for its last issue) Death of Wolverine before jumping ship to the Inhumans and penning the awful Death of X and even-more-awful Inhumans vs. X-Men! And my smugness can be summed up with:

Oh, did you and the Inhumans not work out? I’m so sorry to hear that, Charlie! And no, I wasn’t laughing behind your back! I was full on rooting for you guys! Or, if you want a more direct connection:

I’m drawing all the attention to it, Soule! All! Of! The! Attention! If there’s one thing this blog isn’t, it’s classy!

Okay, I’m done now. I just wanted to be a bitch. In all seriousness, here are my thoughts on Charles Soule’s upcoming Astonishing X-Men series.

11Astonishing X-Men
Written by Charles Soule
Art by TBA

The Astonishing X-Men title is so associated with Joss Whedon that people forget that there were indeed other writers, up to and including Warren Ellis! Charles Soules’ series doesn’t seem to have anything in common with the well-known Whedon run — which partly tried to incorporate the X-Men more into the Marvel universe and have them act as more traditional superheroes (something that it gave up on pretty quickly) — other than just being a good jumping-on point for new fans, something Soules touts, which isn’t exactly unique to Astonishing. The aforementioned idea of the X-Men being more present in the Marvel Universe is being handled elsewhere, so it seems Astonishing X-Men is just called that because it’s something that’s not Uncanny X-Men or just X-Men, which is strange, as Marvel is going to be renumbering all their ongoings with “legacy numbers” later this year.

Anyway, regarding the comic itself, very little is known. In fact, this series’ reveal was actually gradual, weirdly enough. Its roster was revealed bits at a time, then finally its name and writer. I’m not sure why it was built up, but I can’t deny that it’s probably going to be one of the better X-books coming out of ResurrXion. But that’s if I really separate Charles Soule from his recent X-work. Because… oy. But he says the story told will build on itself, and it will have focus in that sense. That’s a good idea, given the sporadic nature of some X-runs, though it has me worried he’ll use his horribly written version of Emma Frost (Charles Soule is to Emma Frost what Jason Aaron was to Cyclops).

But before I get into that, let’s talk about the cast. It’s mostly good! Old Man Logan seems to be succumbing to the old Wolverine curse of being on a lot of different series and teams. I count three so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were put on an Avengers team again. But his character is interesting, and it will be interesting to see him lead a team (if he is the leader, which the cover seems to indicate he is). Archangel is always good for some angst and dark stories, along with a plain cool look. Psylocke is a cool character with an interesting history and relationship with Archangel. While I’ve found her kind of boring outside of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, she has potential and she throws a wrench into the cast. And that’s because of the presence of Fantomex, a character I’ve always seen as a more self-aware Gambit. He’s a thief who steals to distract from his constant urge to kill. He’s fun, though works best when playing off Psylocke and Archangel and other super serious characters. Oh, and speaking of Gambit, he’s here too. I’ve never been his biggest fan, but he’s fun and can lighten the mood when not angsting about whatever contrived Thieves Guild story he’s taking part in. Rogue is here too, and that makes this series give off a real soap-opera vibe, given the Psylocke/Archangel/Fantomex thing and now Rogue and Gambit. It seems like Rogue has been handled surprisingly well by Gerry Duggan over in Uncanny Avengers, and I always like to see her around. She’s a versatile character who works best when she’s a tough-but-caring Southern Belle using her own experiences to help others. Oh, and Mystique is here, in case we didn’t have enough drama. I like Mystique in the right role, and assuming she’s the token evil member of the team, I can see her having an interesting dynamic with Archangel, encouraging his darker tendencies. Also, I’d like to see how her relationships with Rogue and Logan develop, given her rocky relationship with the former and… complicated relationship with the original Logan . And then there’s Forge who exists and I don’t care about him.

Now, the elephant in the room — Charles Soule… Charles Soule was once a writer I really liked. I enjoyed his Thunderbolts run, and he managed to make the dumb concept that Daniel Way started work. I’ve heard nothing but good things about his Swamp Thing run, which I’m told far surpassed Scott Snyder’s and seemed to create an interesting mythology. His Red Lanterns run was really the only part of that series worth reading, and while I never finished, I really want to. He definitely seemed to understand the characters, especially Guy Gardner, while also keeping true to the idea of the group. I found Inhuman to be a pretty good read with some interesting characters (who became less interesting over time) and concepts. His She-Hulk run has been thoroughly praised, and I’m assuming utilised his law skills well. His Daredevil run has some cool ideas and what I read of it (I omnibus-wait Daredevil (I am not kidding) seemed like he was doing a good job bringing darkness back into Daredevil’s world after Mark Waid’s run. Thought it was rough when I read it, I’ve heard it’s really picked up. Then came his X-Men work…

While I largely enjoyed Death of Wolverine and thought it had a fitting ending, the miniseries itself felt like it had quite a bit of padding while also not quite adequately summing up Logan’s life. But what followed… I have heard nobody speak of Wolverines, Marvel’s attempt at a weekly ongoing to compete with DC’s two Batman Eternal series. I couldn’t read more than two issues of Death of X, where Soule decided to nonsensically kill off Jamie Madrox — who was the closest thing to a lead character in Peter David’s amazing X-Factor run (the second one he did) — and Cyclops, in such a low-key way that I’m sure it was meant to be profound that Cyke went out like he did, but it comes off as disrespectful given the characters rich’s history, importance to the franchise, and large fanbase. Oh, and the ending was awful and filled with plot holes. Then he wrote Inhumans vs. X-Men, which, while concluding the awful Terrigen poisoning plot (which I will be writing something on due to its awfulness), it had an amazing amount of plot holes, only some of which were carried over from Death of X — there were inconsistencies within the series itself! Oh, and Uncanny Inhumans was kind of boring and didn’t seem to get the appeal of the Inhumans. So yeah, Soule started out as an up-and-comer I really liked, but 2016 was not a good year for him, and I basically replaced him with Tom King.

A year ago I’d have been excited for this series, but Soule has really fallen in my eyes. While I had to let out the pettiness early in this post, I really hope this series is his comeback. Because it has a good cast, good planning and a writer who I know can do better than he has recently. I am cautiously optimistic about Astonishing X-Men. Continue reading “ResurrXion, Part 6 — Look Who Came Crawling Back!”

ResurrXion, Part 2 — Blue and Gold, the Colours of Mediocrity (Rantings)

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Can someone please tell Rachel Grey that she’s not Mon-El?

X-Men: Gold
Written by Marc Guggenheim (yes, really)
Art by Ardian Syaf

One of the two main X-ongoings, it features the team introduced by Chris Claremont, with Rachel Grey/Summers and Kitty Pryde along for good measure. They do… stuff. Honestly, it’s vague, but they’ll be more entrenched in general Marvel goings ons, which honestly hassn’t worked out well for the X-Men in the past (e.g, the mediocre second X-Men series, their more recent stuff in Marvel NOW!, such as Uncanny Avengers)

The lineup obviously is invoking the second generation of X-Men, though obviously changed a bit. Old Man Logan is confirmed to be sticking around, and he’s pretty hard to write out of character. Nightcrawler and Colossus are sticking around to be fun and boring, respectively, but they’re always good in supporting roles, especially when Logan is around. Storm’s sticking around, so her fans will be happy, though the leadership position apparently goes to Kitty Pryde. I’ve never been a huge fan of Kitty, but it’s at least nice that she’ll be back with the X-books. Apparently, her returning and finding the X-Men in such a different state will not be ignored, but given how much Guggenheim seems to be the typical Kitty fanboy (she’s his self-insert, he started reading as a teenager and she was just introduced, etc), I doubt she’ll be called on abandoning her species. Rachel Grey/Summers is here, in a bad Mon-El cosplay apparently, and the linked interview makes it seem like Guggenheim really doesn’t know what to do with her, like she’s just there because she needs to be there. The cast is mostly fine, but time will tell if Guggenheim writes them well. Which segues nicely into my thoughts on the creative team!

Just… no on this creative team. Ardian Syaf is hit-or-miss, and a lot of his stuff ends up looking rushed. He’s okay when he’s a hit, but nothing special. But Marc Guggenheim? Let me make this clear: I don’t watch Arrow. I read the Arrow subreddit, but I don’t watch the show. But I know that he basically tanked the show. However, I’m going to throw on my hipster hat and say this: I hated Marc Guggenheim before it was cool! He wrote what is probably the worst New Mutants-esque book ever — Young X-Men, which just alienated every reader of Marvel’s younger mutants while also introducing the shitpile that is Ink, a mutant who gained powers relating to whatever tattoos he had, up to and including the powers of the Phoenix. Not only that, but he also wrote the crapfest that was Bart Allen’s run as the Flash. He also ruined the Justice Society after Geoff Johns left, though people were ruining them a bit before him anyway. So yeah, I’ve got a pretty negative opinion on Guggenheim’s writing, and there’s no big name, strong artist to help him.

While the cast would normally get me kind of excited for X-Men: Gold, having Marc Guggenheim as writer just kills it. I’m sorry, but I expect this to be a mediocre at best series, with probably tons of focus on Kitty Pryde. Not interested.

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Have you ever had those guests that just refused to go home?

X-Men: Blue
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Jorge Molina

And here’s the other main X-ongoing, X-Men: Blue! And… the time-displaced, original five (O5) X-Men are sticking around. Of course. It will feature the O5 working with Magneto of all people, and getting into “classic”-style stories.

The cast is not good. I’m sorry, but next to nobody cares about the O5 anymore. Let them go home. They’re pointless. Bendis may have had something planned for them, but he jumped ship, and now they’re just a relic of a story that never had any payoff. They’re boring, and pale reflections of their adult counterparts. And Bunn’s interpretation of the characters is just… off. He says many people feel Jean should’ve been the X-Men’s leader for a while, which is just untrue. And given how she either acts purely on her own emotions (All-New X-Men) or is just… a character that exists to exist (Extraordinary X-Men), I have trouble seeing her as a leader at all. Maybe I could swallow the original Jean leading the X-Men in Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Xavier’s absence, maybe, but this Jean? I’m sorry, but no. The rest apparently don’t want to go home, because they’ve built lives for themselves, such as Cyke joining the Champions (actually a good read, by the way), Iceman getting a boyfriend, Beast dabbling in magic (why?), and Angel embracing a more warrior-type attitude. It’s just… it feels like Bunn just randomly decided to give the characters new traits because he needed an excuse to keep them around. Except it sounds like this might actually be the series that ends with them going home, which I sincerely hope it is. Bunn’s writing of Magneto is always good, but teaming him up with the O5 is just a weird creative decision.

The creative team is okay, I guess. Cullen Bunn is a writer who I think gets way more work than he deserves, but hey, he gets stuff out on time so why should DC or Marvel care, right? But what I’ve read of his Magneto run is solid, if nothing special, and his Uncanny X-Men run approaches the Terrigen Mists plot in a more interesting manner than any other X-book. However, he’s said that X-Men: Blue won’t be dark like his other works, and honestly, I think that’s his biggest, and possibly only, strength; he can tell dark stories that use other, better writers’ works as a foundation. Jorge Molina is an okay artist, with a style that seems to be a more painted version of David Marquez. At the very least, I kinda dig the design of the X-Men boots. Yep, that’s the only thing I can really say about the art — I dig the boots.

I would love if this series and X-Men: Gold switched creative teams. Bunn is a better writer than Guggenheim, and I’d sooner dump these unwanted, boring characters onto the latter. If this series had a more interesting cast, I’d actually be interested. But instead, we basically get All-New X-Men volume 3, and I stopped caring halfway through volume 1.