Sunday, July 11, 2010

Essay: The Post-X-Men vs. Apocalypse X-Men

After really enjoying my current excursion back into the world of X-Men, I’ve decided to make it a more regular item. Hopefully at least once a month I can take a look into the ongoing saga. For those of you new to the whole concept, or those of you looking for a refresher, here is a rundown of the events that occur after what has just been reviewed here at Luke Reviews.

After the team is shaken up by the events of “The Twelve” and “The Ages of Apocalypse,” they are not given a chance to breath before encountering a new foe. This story is told in the upcoming X-Men: Powerless. There is a gap of about 7-8 issues for the two main comics, before we reach the next volumes, X-Men: Dream’s End, which pulls together a number of loose ends, and X-Men: Eve of Destruction, which acts as a coda to the series of sorts, before the upcoming changes in the franchise.

In July 2001 all of the core titles change. Famed comics scribe Grant Morrison takes over X-Men, and his appearance brings with it the title change to New X-Men. Joe Casey takes over the writing duties of Uncanny X-Men, while Chris Claremont, famed for his long run decades ago but who hasn’t hit the same highs since, is given a new, third core X-Men title, called X-Treme X-Men. Morrison’s ground breaking run, which became an instant classic among most fans, was collected in seven volumes: E Is For Extinction, Imperial, New Worlds, Riot at Xavier’s, Assault on Weapon Plus, Planet X, and Here Comes Tomorrow. These seven were later collected into a new, three-volume set. Joe Casey didn’t last as long, tanking quite readily in most of his storylines. Only one volume of his work was collected (Poptopia), and the rest have yet to be reprinted. Chuck Austen took over the title, finishing out the “Morrison years” with six volumes: Hope, Dominant Species, Holy War, The Draco, She Lies With Angels, and Bright New Mourning. Claremont’s series was always tied a little less tightly to the other two, forming more of a loose connection, more similar to other offshoot “X-books.” His series, along with a number of pertinent mini-series, were collected in nine volumes (1-8 plus a volume 1.5): Destiny, Savage Land, Invasion, Schism, Mekanix, God Loves, Man Kills, Intifada, Storm – The Arena, and Prisoner of Fire.

Morrison dominated this period of X-Men lore. Joe Casey floundered, and Chuck Austen (who I actually rather enjoyed) was widely panned, and Claremont sat somewhere off to the side. I read most of the New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men volumes from this period, and won’t be re-reading them for review anytime too soon, I would imagine. I thought that both the Morrison and Austen books were a lot of fun and are worth picking up. I didn’t read any of the X-Treme X-Men, and because of its position to the side of the other two, it wasn’t detrimental to miss them.

After Morrison’s tenure, Austen wrote both New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men for a couple months, leading into the “X-Men Reload” event, which wasn’t a storyline, but rather a total switch up of creative personnel. X-Treme X-Men was canceled, allowing Claremont to return to writing Uncanny X-Men, bringing with him a lot of characters and plotlines from his previous series. Austen was bumped from Uncanny X-Men, and took the reins permanently after a two month run on New X-Men, which switched its title back to X-Men. He took brought his cast and story arcs to his new title. The third core title slot was empty after the cancelation of X-Treme X-Men, and was filled with Astonishing X-Men, written by Joss Whedon. Austen’s time at X-Men was very limited, producing needing only one volume, Day of the Atom, to collect his complete work. He was replaced by Peter Milligan, whose work was collected in Golgotha, Bizarre Love Triangle, X-Men/Black Panther: Wild Kingdom, Decimation: X-Men – The Day After, and Blood of Apocalypse. For about the same span of time as Austen’s and Milligan’s combined runs on X-Men, Claremont was working on Uncanny X-Men, producing six volumes: The End of History, The Cruelest Cut, On Ice, House of M: Uncanny X-Men, End of Greys, and First Foursaken. During the entire extent of this time, and a little ways past, Whedon was working on Astonishing X-Men (at a very slow pace that frustrated many readers), producing Gifted, Dangerous, Torn, and Unstoppable.

The key event during this whole period was House of M. The main tale being told in a mini-series (which will be the next X-Men collection reviewed on the site), and the ancillary tales told both as story arcs in ongoing series or as mini-series themselves, this one set out to change the status quo of the X-Men universe, and it accomplished that very thing. The other collections from this era are either out of print or closing in on it, so I won’t be looking too closely, other than at House of M.

Following Whedon’s departure, Warren Ellis took over, producing Ghost Box and Exogenetic so far, and is still working on that title. The Astonishing X-Men cast also appeared in a number of mini-series through this time, including Phoenix: Endsong, Phoenix: War Song, Civil War: X-Men, World War Hulk: X-Men, and Secret Invasion: X-Men, as well as being the key team in House of M. When Milligan left X-Men, Mike Carey took over, and is still at work on the title. His work is collected in Supernovas and Blinded By the Light, then he contributed to Messiah Complex. After that, the title changed names again, this time to X-Men: Legacy. He continued on, writing Divided He Stands, Sins of the Father, Original Sin, Salvage, and Emplate (which brings us to the end of the current releases). After Claremont left, he was replaced by Ed Brubaker. He kicked off his run with the mini-series X-Men: Deadly Genesis, which lead right into his Uncanny X-Men run. He wrote Rise & Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, The Extremists, contributed to Messiah Complex, and wrapped up with Divided We Stand. He was replaced by Matt Fraction, who has so far contributed Manifest Destiny, Lovelorn, Sisterhood, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia, and Nation X.

The current issues being released are focusing on a story called “Second Coming,” which purports to wrap up plots from House of M to today, forming a sort of trilogy with Messiah Complex and the Cable/X-Force-centric Messiah War. All of this will lead up to Marvel’s new rejuvenation of titles and changes of creative teams, the “Heroic Age,” which appears to be opening with an X-Men/vampires story I’m a little unsure about.

(Brief side note: For those of you interested in the full Vulcan character arc that began with Brubaker’s Deadly Genesis, it continues on into Rise & Fall of the Shi’ar Empire, before exiting the main titles. It continues on in Emperor Vulcan, then moves into Kingbreaker, which works as a prologue to his part in War of Kings, one of the major cosmic storylines of the past few years, which closes the story arc of the third Summers brother.)

After looking at House of M, which is rather pivotal for all of the current storylines, I will be diving into Brubaker’s run on Uncanny X-Men. Uncanny X-Men is very much the key title in the saga, working as an umbrella title that all of the other series play within, and so that will be my focus (if I wanted to read all the series, I would be spending a rather handsome sum, indeed), starting with Deadly Genesis, working through his run and into Fractions, the goal being to get caught up and stay caught up, while at the same time picking up reprints of older stuff, like X-Men: Powerless, or even X-Men: Prelude to Onslaught.

Regardless, I hope this helps everyone get a better idea of both the series and saga as a whole, and how Luke Reviews will be exploring it. If you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email (, I won’t bite!)

1 comment: