I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

X-Men: Regenesis - October 12, 2011 - A Simulblog

The following is a simulblog with Arthur of Arthur the Lesser. You ought to be forewarned: there will be spoilers.

I will link to Arthur's article when it is made available.

When Arthur agreed to simulblog the X-Men: Regenesis comics, he referred to himself as the "resident xologist," and I would have to agree. But when it comes to the X-Men, I'm no slouch myself. I may not know everything that has happened between "Operation: Zero Tolerance" and "X-Men: Schism." I may have asked a lot of questions about how Hope is now a teenager and who exactly this Dr. Nemesis guy is. But I've read every comic between 1963 and late 1988, and I'd like to believe that I know what is at the heart of the X-Men.

After the new 52 presented me with a chance to get into a lot of DC comics without having to have hundreds of issues of experience, I began to feel guilty that I had left my first love, the X-Men behind. I've spent so much time getting caught up on Green Lantern and Batman in the last year or so that I've completely stopped getting caught up on my X-comics - I should be at least to 1991 or 1992 by now, after all. At the same time, my entire twitter feed was dominated by silhouettes of who would be on which X-team after the events of X-Men: Schism, silhouettes that were slowly filled in. At work, one night, I asked my buddy Zac if X-Men: Regenesis would be a good place to start following the X-books again. He said yes, and when the fifty-two issue month of September was over I got caught up on X-Men: Schism.

In many ways, the one-shot titled X-Men: Regenesis is either an epilogue to the events of X-Men: Schism #5 or a prologue to the events of Uncanny X-Men #1 and Wolverine and the X-Men #1. The story itself is a little bit underwhelming: Wolverine and Cyclops campaign among their (former) friends and allies in order to make sure that they have the right team at their sides. In the process, we begin to understand the various motives that push characters either to stay on Utopia and join Cyclops' army or to fly to Westchester and start over with a new variation on the old theme of Xavier's dream. While the campaign trail is expressed in rational and peaceful terms, there is an underlying current of mortal combat between Wolverine and Cyclops as exemplified by a gritty primordial representation of what is happening. Are Wolverine and Cyclops campaigning? Or are they fighting to the death beside a fire wearing tribal garb? Is the tribal motif an attempt at exploring the depth psychology of the Schism aftermath, or an excuse to show our favorite X-characters in little to no clothing? I'm sure you can make that decision for yourself.

X-Men: Regenesis speaks strongly to the fact that there are plenty of reasons for choosing one side or the other, and that few of them have anything to do with what Wolverine and Cyclops are fighting about. Everyone has particular needs and motives, and many people are forced to make huge sacrifices. I'd like to take a moment to look into some of the driving forces that bring characters to one side or the other. Psylocke was one of the first characters who stood out. She agrees that she will be on Wolverine's X-Force team, but the school is not her way. She says to Wolverine, "We have to go forward. The school's the opposite of that." But when Cyclops offers a head-of-security position, there is an ambiguous discussion regarding her being a spy/counter-spy. Is Cyclops trying to get information from Wolverine's mission and block him from getting information regarding Cyclops' own mission? Gambit's motives were entirely suspect to me. He nonchalantly says, "Found all the trouble there is to find here. May as well head East." But hasn't he also found all the trouble there is to find in the East. He lived at Xavier's school for many more years than he did in Utopia. If you ask me, Gambit has three motives that he is covering up: 1. he finds a kind of kinship with Wolverine, 2. he is secretly an idealist devoted to the dream of Xavier's school, and 3. he believes that Rogue will end up there and he can rekindle his relationship with her.

But the case of Storm is where I think we need to focus. Storm believes that a lot of Scott's militaristic ventures are horrible, citing X-Force as "an abomination." She feels used by Cyclops because of her great power, and her inclination is to go to Wolverine's side. But Cyclops plays Storm and gets her on his side, making her believe that she is the good individual who will keep all of the former baddies on Cyclops' side from creating further abominations. Of course, there's already solicitations for a book called Magneto: Not a Hero, so Storm might have her work cut out for her. Of course, my reason for looking so closely at the case of Storm is that, near the end of X-Men: Regenesis she represents a case of great instability. I could see her jumping ship if she feels that Scott's mission is irredeemable. Reflecting back on the book, there are many cases of instability. Kitty and Colossus could switch sides in order to be together. The same is the case with Magneto and Rogue. The Guthries could switch sides simply because they feel cured of whatever curses them. And Emma Frost could switch sides on a whim simply because she's not getting enough attention from Scott.

At the end of the issue, we are told that Cyclops' side - Colossus, Namor, Storm, Emma Frost, Magneto, Psylocke, Hope Summers, Dazzler, Domino, Warpath, Dr. Nemesis, Cypher, Madison Jeffries, Magik, Magma, Sunspot, X-Man and Dani Moonstar - will be featured in Uncanny X-Men #1 (on sale November 2nd) while Wolverine's side - Gambit, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Rachel Summers, Toad, Cannonball, Chamber, Husk, and Dust - will be featured in Wolverine and the X-Men #1 (on sale October 26). But there are a lot of characters who aren't on either of those lists. And some of the teams don't seem as heavily affiliated as others. X-Force seems to be at the whim of both Cyclops and Wolverine. Dazzler's X-kids team doesn't seem heavily involved with Cyclops' militaristic methodology. And X-Factor investigations seems like it may exist outside of the battle lines. And let's not forget the myriad factors that could make parties switch teams or decide to abandon the methodology of either side. While Marvel has presented Regenesis as being pretty black and white with its marketing campaign, it seems like everything is still pretty grey. Oh, and what of the fate of Professor Xavier? Where's he going? And Archangel? Has he just gone completely to the dark side? Will Cable's rebirth and X-Sanction tie in heavily?

But, finally, the most difficult question, the question at the bottom of the last page of X-Men: Regenesis: Whose side are YOU on? This has eaten away at me for some time. After all, Cyclops is probably my favorite Marvel character, and I understand that in many ways he has had to bear the weight of Xavier's dream even more heavily than Xavier himself. But the truth of the matter is that Wolverine is right. If a young mutant believes that killing all those who oppose her is what it means to be an X-Men, then Xavier's dream has failed. In other words, I'm with Wolverine. While the split is promoted as the new Blue and Gold teams that were established when (Uncanny) X-Men split off into both Uncanny X-Men and X-Men, volume two, it is also just as comparable to the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, two teams who have battled on and off since X-Men #2 in 1963. And Cyclops' side is the none with all the villains on it, villains who are always switching sides, and why stop now? In many ways, Wolverine's decision is a step backwards, and the events that are unfolding make it irresponsible to presume that simply opening a school is enough, but Wolverine's decision is the right decision.

Next week's Regenesis title is Uncanny X-Men #544, the final issue of Marvel's longest running comic book series. It should be awfully sad, especially since I've read a few hundred of those issues myself. Until then, read Arthur's article, once it is up. And don't forget to weigh in on whose side you are on.


  1. I am firmly ensconced in Wolverine's camp. Cyclops, for all of his talk of mutant survival, has placed himself in the exact shoes Magneto has filled for the prior 60 years. Asteroid M, anyone? Genosha? Does a whole colony of separatist mutants ever go well? Also, I'll try to spin this in what I believe was the original political use of the X-men. Professor X's philosophy is that of Martin Luther King Jr. It involves, not separation, but radical inclusion. It means willingly placing yourself in a dangerous position (the X-mansion, anyone?) for the long-term goal of peace. If people strike at you when you are busy being awesome, then peace is achieved that much quicker, even if it is at a cost. The way cyclops is playing it, is rather like the early Malcolm X, which, while perhaps justified and warranted, is not what will ultimately lead to success. An "us vs. them" mentality will only lead to an eventual collision, even if they survive for an entire generation. What happens when the mutants run out of land or resources? Will Utopia exist indefinitely? The world itself has limited resources, and if the mutants can't learn to share them, then they have set themselves up either for extermination or domination. A position which Wolverine, for all of his hypocrisy and flaws, rejects. As do I.

    Also, Slim is a douche.

  2. Couldn't the combined powers of some of the mutants - I'm thinking specifically Storm and Avalanche - turn that whole resources thing on its head? Of course, I guess they won't live forever.