Friday, June 4, 2010

Best and Worst: Post-Messiah Complex

With Second Coming reaching the last act of its long journey, and with it being the final chapter in the Messiah trilogy, it's a good time to look back on the best and worst of what's gone on since Messiah Complex.
5. The Return of the New Mutants
Following the demise of Young X-Men, I imagine there was a serious conference among the X-Men Creators looking to see what can be done to fix the damage done by the failed New X-Men spinoff. Obviously, fans were not impressed with having their beloved wallpaper characters fucked with, so repackaging the New X-Men again would just spell for trouble for sales. What came of it was out with the new, and in with the new. New Mutants, that is.
Yes, with half of the cast floating about in limbo, others dead, and only a few being used already, it was the perfect team to be reunited. And while Generation X was also in a similar state, the ones in Limbo are also severely fucked over by poor writing changing them for the worst. There's one more dead in their lot, and Emma and M are being used in a way that's shockingly beyond serving as wallpaper.
So anyway, with abuse of the resurrection tool, we got our Mutants back. And in the capable hands of writer Zeb Wells we've seen this series blossom into a more readable series than than most the all-star cast books (at least when not involved in shit crossovers).

4. Archangel's Useful Again
If there's one character who was hurting before MC struck, it was Archangel. Seriously, with Cyclops finally owning his role as overall X-Men leader, Beast taking part in the popular Astonishing X-Men, Iceman being recruited into Rogue's much-loved team of X-Men, and Jean Grey going off to play God as she sometimes does, Angel was having a bad day. Post-Decimation if Warren did anything of note neither I nor the rest of the world knew about it.
Then MC struck and Archangel finally returned to the team by taking part in Storm's attack team. Following that he appeared in the Divided We Stand arc for Uncanny, and afterward he joined X-Force where he gained the ability to go between Angel and Archangel.
And while development of him as of late has been limited to a Jekyll/Hyde complex, the thing is he actually has a chance to get the spotlight now that he's actually useful in a fight. I mean this is the X-Men, being useful in emergency situations (a.k.a. fight scenes) is sort of a requirement.

3. The Kiss Heard Round the World
Oh lordy, the kiss between Shatterstar and Rictor in X-Factor #45. I think the Internet exploded the day this issue came out. And in case you did not hear, former X-Force creator Rob Liefeld shat himself over it. Despite this shit.
And you know what the best thing that came out of this was? Peter David basically going, seriously, that big of a deal? He's interviewed several times saying he had no idea the kiss would get as much coverage as it did. I love that because I love the idea that this man, at least seems to say, he wasn't playing this card for shock points. I mean, yeah, I think some of his decisions are fueled by the fans and this one likely was as well, but I still don't think his aim was to get a whole bunch of press for it. And I just love someone in comic books saying, 'Two guys kissing is not that big of a deal.'
In the end, the kiss was wonderful, but we've yet to see much more than tidbits of the couple since. At this point in time much of our love for RicStar is currently made up of fanfic stories we have of them in our heads.

2. The Return of X-Force
A change that MC was directly responsible for was the reforming of X-Force. Now, a lot of people, like me, upon first hearing of this book were mighty skeptical. Personally, I just thought it was going to be another attempt to make the X-Men look badass and dark and gritty and dirty. And it turned out: It was. And I fucking LOVED it.
The first arc of this book was easily one of the best X-Men stories I've ever read. I have memories of sitting up one night in a hotel room bathroom, because everyone else had gone to bed, excitedly devouring the first four issues that I had bought earlier that day. I mean, do you remember how fast the early issues kept selling out?
The writing team of Yost+Kyle with Clayton Crain on art was phenomenal. And by the way, Crain's art is still top-notch and perfect for this book, screw the naysayers. Especially since they're likely the ones saying Mike Choi of the pretty pencils, who's appropriate for every other X-Book because he's talented as all hell, works well on a blood and gore book. Seriously? Anyway, X-Force's opening arc was an adrenaline-pumping good time that's necessary reading for any and every X-fan.

1. The Return of Psylocke
This is easily one of the most popular Post-MC moves made by the X-Dept., and it's largely due to, in case you did not already know, people fucking LOVING Psylocke. Especially in the past year, Psylocke fans have proven to be just as devoted as Rogue fans. And you know those Rogue fans, do NOT screw with them when it comes to Rogue, or they will fuck ya day up.
Anyway, Psylocke's story has pulled a 180 in the past year and a half. She's gone from lead character on Claremont's sinking ship, New Exiles, to returning to the X-Men but playing a generally minute role, to finally get her own mini-series and a respectable role within the X-Men universe.
And I think the continued success of Psylocke's return is still largely due to her fans, who were RELENTLESS in Q+A's like X-Position, flooding those creators about her eventual return to the 616 universe. And they haven't stopped from there, they've gotten behind their girl like no other fans in awhile, and continue to keep their support for her known (now if only the creators would listen to the 3 million requests for a costume change).

5. Young X-Men
For some reason, after MC the creators decided the much-loved New X-Men was due for a change by taking out everyone but two of the main team, one from the background, one who's proven to be a one-trick pony, and invented two despite the Decimation. And they weren't even worth overruling that rule! And then another even more useless one (Cipher) came about!
Seriously, this was a sinking ship from the beginning. With a team consisting of members who were never the stars of the previous series, just the likable supporting cast, no one could stand them. Plus there was the deus ex machina known as Ink who was a sad attempt at a team rebel and the ever-strange Greymalkin.
In the end what happened was: Pierce attacked as he does with ever New ___ opening arc, Ink saved the day every arc, and the only lovable character, Dust, had her future development fucked thanks to her "dying" arc. Oh and Wolf Cub was killed, which means one Wolverine wannabe down, countless to go. If you're looking for this series, it can be found in the quarter bins of your local comic book shop, it's where I got my issues. (No diss to the bins, I've gotten some fucking TREASURES out of them, but I mean let's be honest concerning this series: You don't price trash for a pretty penny.)

4. Cable
Unless you're an athlete, you probably hate to exercise. Sure, you do it, but to look good, not because you enjoy it. And I'd wager that comic book readers probably hate exercise more than your average person. And Cable the series? It was exercise. Both metaphorically and literally.
Cable was an entire series dedicated to Cable and Hope running away from the horribly retconned, now-evil Bishop. They ran a lot. And now in Second Coming, they've spent a great deal of it doing, you guessed it, running. The only other time I've been so annoyed with people running is that Lifetime movie with the anorexic girls who psychotically exercise and are all, "Mmm, isn't water the best?" "Yeah and calorie-free!"
To be fair, I've only fully read three issues of the series. But with the joys of Scans_Daily, I got to see glimpses of this trainwreck from afar, and it simply served to reinforce my decision to not read the series. The best part about the end of Second Coming working to a conclusion is that creators are likely going to sense the Cable and Hope fatigue and lay off those two for half a year. Then again, they clearly can't seem to grasp that people are getting fatigued of vampires, hence why they're pushing forward with it as the focus of the first arc of the new "X-Men" book.

3. Messiah War
Did anyone read this thing? From what I understand, this is what happened: X-Force readers bought the one-shot, saw the desperate attempt at getting Cable to have readers, threw their hands up, and said, "I'll see you in a few months."
Despite being the second chapter to the amazing Messiah Complex, this thing was a such a flop (again, I watched from afar with Scans_Daily, previews, and summaries). If Messiah Complex was like getting drunk, then Messiah War was the blackout stage. Second Coming's the drunken, rough sex with a stranger. In the end, like any good drunk happening, we'll treasure the memories from the beginning of the night forever, but be glad it's over because of what came after.
What's worse is this crossover pulled in two villains who were meant to stay in the early 90's: Strye and Apocalypse. Is anyone ever excited to see them? Like yes, it's possible to be excited over villains, Batman's popularity, in my opinion, comes largely from the villains. But in terms of these two jokes, I think the height of the reaction to their return was some groans and a bunch of eye-rolling. In short, Messiah War, you're pleasantly forgotten.

2. Roster Changes for X-Factor
Post-MC, there was a lot of bringing back of the good, but also ruining what was already working. X-Factor's roster was an example of this. After MC we found ourselves with a void in the team with both Rahne (egh) and Layla Miller gone. Miller likely being the series then favorite character, and also a vital contributor to the series' fun factor and energy.
From there the series went downhill in a massive way. David tried to work his already established magic with C-List characters again by bringing in Longshot and Darwin. Which was then met with lackluster response, not that it mattered as his working with them was pretty minimal. Finally, he made a couple shocking and much-needed moves to spice things up, and in effort to maintain momentum it seems, he brought back Shatterstar as boyfriend to Rictor and Layla Miller now as an adult. And right then he killed Miller's appeal as her "knowing stuff" was explained (some things are better left unsaid), and he removed the charm of a fearless, precocious teenage girl by having her as an adult. Ever since the team's felt overstuffed as no one's been booted off the island yet, and no one's had much development in awhile except series star, Multiple Man, who eats up way too much spotlight. In order to regain interest with fans, David would need to trim the fat of this team, meaning the redundant (Longshot) and the uninteresting (Darwin).

1. Utopia
The worst Post-MC move was made with Utopia, as Matt Fraction got control of an entire crossover and people's eyes were finally opened to what a crap job he was doing with Uncanny.
Utopia made things horrible because art-wise, which can make or break a book, putting all the X-Men on an island does not work. Because here's your panels: Characters with a background of light blue for either sky or water and gray-brown for the island. It's the ugliest thing that no artist can make look right.
What's worse is it wasn't even a believable move. You're an endangered species, so you're gonna put them all in one place surrounded by water? Seriously, if Bastion was serious about his prejudice he would've just dropped one nuke on Utopia, and the majority of his problem would have been taken care of. And what's worse is out of all this, Cyclops has upped his man-child, douchebag levels to heights so high I find it hard to believe someone hasn't shot him in the head yet. And somehow people are still in support of him as leader, choosing to view him as a level-headed leader who's thinking of his people before himself. Whatever delusions keep ya happy, fanboys. To conclude, Utopia was truly the worst Post-Messiah Complex move made.

1 comment:

FSaker said...

It's interesting to notice that practically all the best post-Messiah CompleX moves are based in reimaginings of the 1990s (New Mutants being the exception, although it is a reimagining as well), a period that left not so many fond memories. It's like if the writers decided to bring back these ideas and give them a new approach. Shatterstar and Rictor, for instance, are now much more interesting characters than they used to be - and that's NOT because they are gay, it's because they have personalities now instead of being just a bunch of muscles, twisted Liefeld-esque smiles and punchlines. I always considered that Cable's X-Force sucked, but this current X-Force team is brilliant, with much more depth. Archangel was fine back in the 1990s, but now he's more interesting as a completely wild card, who may be the X-Men's greatest asset or greatest liability.

As for Psylocke, yes, it's amazing to see how much attention she's got ever since her return. While I was relieved when she was taken out of Claremont's hands that were ruining her, I was always afraid that Fraction would use her as wallpaper as he did with Dazzler and Northstar and that other writers wouldn't be interested in using her in their stories. Fortunately, and I don't know whether to thank the fans' dedication or the writers' interest on her, Psylocke has become a quite prominent character in the current X-verse, and even Fraction has used her as more than wallpaper (although she of course isn't in the same level in Uncanny as Scott, Emma, Magneto and Namor, but at least she is getting panel time, action scenes and LINES)! I hope she can keep getting this attention after Second Coming!