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 20, 2011

X-Men: Regenesis - October 19, 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.

I have been having a difficult time lately expressing how big and how sad it is that the final issue of Uncanny X-Men was released this week. Uncanny X-Men is the longest running book put out by Marvel Comics. With a couple of exceptions, it has run non-stop since its "genesis" in 1963. Those exceptions include the "cancellation" from after issue sixty-six and the temporary suspension of the book during the Age of Apocalypse and replacement by Astonishing X-Men. But even the canceled book continued to put out reprints from issue sixty-seven until ninety-three, and Astonishing X-Men was merely another name for Uncanny X-Men during the alternate-universe account of what would happen if Xavier died and Magneto continued in his footsteps. As of today, the longest running Marvel book is X-Men: Legacy, which was originally published as X-Men, Volume 2. The longest running current comic put out by Marvel is a book that came out when I was eight, a book that I had every variant cover for. This makes me old. This also makes me kind of sad. I think that we must view Uncanny X-Men #544 first and foremost as a moment for mourning.

The first page of this book is a reprint of the original 1963 X-Men #1 with alternate dialogue and narration. At the beginning we had Professor Charles Xavier trying to make five youngsters - Scott Summers (Cyclops), Jean Grey (Marvel Girl), Warren Worthington, III (Angel), Henry "Hank" McCoy (Beast) and Robert "Bobby" Drake - into heroes. The dream of the first issue is transformed into the nightmare of the final issue. Cyclops has, in many ways, transformed into a Magneto figure, now militaristic, segregationist, and willing to do anything for the cause. Marvel Girl has died a couple of times now. It appears that she may be permanently dead right now, unless one believes that she is likely to return in Marvel's Point One series which, at the very least, seems to deal with the return of the Phoenix in some form. Angel has gone through several transformations, but it appears that he may be the new Apocalypse and may also be irredeemable. Beast has been away with the Avengers for some time, but returns to criticize his oldest friend's deplorable methodology. And young Bobby Drake, who remains in so many ways a good-spirited child at heart, remains loyal to the school and the brighter side of the dream. Strangely, Professor Charles Xavier is never mentioned. When at first I saw a figure dictating the story of the X-Men, I thought it would be Xavier writing his own variation on There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale and then closing the book at the end. But Xavier is nowhere to be seen. Maybe I'm not reading all the right books, but I have yet to see mention of where Charles Xavier stands on this whole schism thing. For right now, that is my biggest mystery.

Cyclops admits, at the end of the story, that he feels that he has finally graduated from Xavier's school. In this way, Uncanny X-Men is framed as the struggle of Cyclops and his allies as they wish to accomplish the dream of a mentor. Cyclops has completed his instruction and now becomes the instructor. But did anyone else feel like the tone of this issue is incredibly dark? I got the vibe that, even in his own book, the general feeling is that Cyclops is doing the wrong thing. Going into a reboot, however, I had thought that this book would have more of a hopeful vibe. But I don't get the feeling that there is any hope on the island called Utopia. I don't believe that Cyclops or any of his followers feel hopeful for the world. As a matter of fact, the only individual who seemed the least bit hopeful at the end of Uncanny X-Men's run was Mr. Sinister. (And maybe Uncanny has always been the story of Sinister as well. He's been placed behind the scenes of so many events, after all.) Two things happen with Sinister: 1. he experiences a transformation that I don't completely understand, and 2. he acts as if he can predict the actions of Cyclops and the mutants surrounding him and, moreover, he likes what he sees. After all, he does say, "The X-Men are over. The future? Distinctly Sinister." I think we can assume that Sinister will be the main adversary over at Uncanny.

Assuming that Professor Xavier doesn't pop out of a closet in Utopia, Cyclops has been abandoned by all of his original allies. And the people who remain are mostly individuals who have often been the foes of the X-Men and the whole of the Marvel universe. In many ways, Cyclops has thrown himself into the lion's den, but in many ways he has become just as much or more of a lion than anyone else there. I've mentioned time and time again that Cyclops is one of my favorite characters, but I have a strange sinking feeling in my gut regarding Uncanny X-Men #1 and the following stories. I don't like that Uncanny seems to be the book that plays to the hawks and Wolverine and the X-Men seems to be the book that plays to the doves. Wolverine's criticism is important. If a child believes that being an X-Man entitles killing those who stand in the way of your principles, then there is a serious problem. For Uncanny to continue being a great comic, I think Scott needs to grapple very seriously with Wolverine's criticism and his reason for leaving. Maybe it is too late for a school. Maybe Wolverine is moving backward. But moving forward cannot simply mean killing for the sake of a cause. Cyclops needs to find another way. We've got enough of this might makes right talk in the United States of America, and quite frankly, I don't want to hear it in the book that has shaped a lot of my own beliefs and ideals over the years.

The Uncanny X-Men that we knew has concluded. Something completely different is coming. Uncanny X-Men #1 comes out November 2nd, but before then we will see the other side of the coin, with Wolverine and the X-Men #1 coming out next week, October the 22nd. There should be an Arthur blog up before then, but if it doesn't happen, just stare at this splash page from Uncanny X-Men #544, a page that I immediately put on my desktop background:


  1. NOTE: I was made aware last night that Wolverine #17, which ties into X-Men: Regenesis, was released this week rather than next week. I will comment on that issue next week. It'll probably work better alongside Wolverine and the X-Men #1 than Uncanny X-Men #544 anyways.

  2. GOOD NEWS: Wolverine and the X-Men #1 was really cool.
    BAD NEWS: Arthur and I have decided to cancel the X-Men Regenesis Simulblog. We hope to work on a project together at some point in 2012.