Marvel Comics’ back-to-basics approach to the X-Men franchise begins here, with X-Men Prime #1. As a longtime X-Men fan who didn’t love mutants’ post-Secret Wars status quo, you’d think I’d be happy to see the X-Men free of all that Inhumans baggage. So then, why do I approach the ResurrXion relaunch with such hesitation?
X-Men: Prime #1 (Marvel Comics)
It’s because we’ve been through this before. I mean, we’ve literally already read an X-Men Prime #1 once before, following the Age of Apocalypse event. I get it, this is a classic X-Men trope, like a game of super-powered baseball or the X-mansion getting blown to bits, but isn’t Marvel supposed to be the House of Ideas?
This is a big part of the problem with embracing nostalgia and going back to that classic formula the fans know and love. Sure, it feels comfortable, but it’s boring. Unless I’m out of touch and this is truly what X-Men fans want to read.
Well, you be the judge. Let’s break down some of X-Men Prime’s story, including those elements we’ve seen before.
The story is a collaboration between new X-writers Marc Guggenheim, Cullen Bunn and Greg Pak, and artists Ken Lashley, Leonard Kirk and Ibraim Roberson. It’s heavily focused on Kitty Pryde, who’s free of her obligations to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. But – shocker – she’s not sure she wants to be an X-Man either! It seems to be going around, as Storm feels the same way following the events of Inhumans Vs. X-Men. We’re treated to a Kitty-Storm coffee shop scene that pays homage to when they first met in Uncanny X-Men #129.Storm (and Marvel) believes Kitty is the future of the X-Men. How many times have we seen this? The whole, Kitty-is-back-and-everything-is-going-to-be-better plot. Kitty can #MakeTheX-MenGreatAgain. I believe it was around Uncanny X-Men #360 that Kitty returned to the states following her stint with Excalibur. Then she was back again for Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men #1.
With Kitty’s return to the X-Men’s world comes a reunion with her former flame Colossus. We’re treated to a trip down memory lane to remind readers of their history and set up the inevitable will-they-get-back-together plot. Again, Whedon explored this in his Astonishing X-Men run. And Kitty needs to not date people named Peter.
Let’s not forget, X-Men Prime is designed to sell comics, so of course, we set up Pak’s Weapon X. I wasn’t excited about this series when it was announced and the setup, featuring Lady Deathstrike, did little to change my mind. It’s another tired concept. Not only have we already had a Weapon X series (that didn’t last), but multiple books featuring a roster of Marvel’s deadliest mutants. I’m getting Suicide Squad vibes off of what Pak teases here.
The one bright spot in this issue is the segment featuring the time-displaced original X-Men. Meant to establish the status quo in Bunn’s X-Men: Blue, we see Cyclops, Angel, Iceman and Beast adjusting to their new leader Jean Grey’s tactics. Bunn has a good handle on the team’s chemistry, and it should be fun to watch three guys take orders from a woman (definitely not a girl, as Jean points out to Warren) who they’ve all had romantic feelings for.
After his darker Uncanny X-Men run, it’s also nice to see Bunn having some fun with X-characters – specifically the recurring thought balloons he plays with. I’m excited to see what he has in store for these characters, even if the idea of the original five breaking off to do their own thing has been done before in X-Factor.
Then, we have the X-Men’s new base of operations – right in the middle of New York City’s Central Park (not a spoiler, as this has been covered in promotional interviews). We’ve seen the X-Men relocate before, from Australia to San Francisco, but this has to be their dumbest move to date. How often does their home get targeted by Sentinels, among other threats? How many innocent people are these “heroes” putting in danger by moving their school to a heavily trafficked park?
Not off to a good start as leader, Kitty. Welcome to Central Park, X-Men, hope innocent New Yorkers survive the experience.If it sounds like I’m being overly critical of this not-so-new direction, it’s because I love the X-Men. I want them to be the best they can be. But the vibes I’m getting off of ResurrXion are similar to what I felt when DC introduced the New 52. I can’t help but think we can do better. And like the New 52, I hope Marvel can correct course over time.
It’s important to remember, the X-Men, like the Inhumans, are about change. Remember when the original five were replaced by the international squad? What about when Storm defeated Cyclops in combat and became the new leader of the X-Men? Or when Grant Morrison came to Westchester and flipped the X-Men’s entire world upside down?
What I see happening now is similar to what Marvel did when Morrison completed his run – backtrack and hit the reset button. It is possible for X-Men stories to feature classic elements while moving forward. Let’s hope the creators lined up do just that. But an ad campaign that tells readers, “You asked for it. You got it,” seems like nothing more than fan service to boost sales.
Marvel, I’m happy to give you my money – just give me good X-Men stories in return.