Maybe I’m just run-down from this year’s Christmas festivities, but I finished reading X-Men Blue #18 and couldn’t help but think, “What was the point of all that?” I questioned my thinking because this issue, like the last, had the right ingredients–good characterization, strong art–but something seemed to be missing. And I think that absent piece of the puzzle is a purpose. So far, this “Cross Time Capers” story arc has just seemed… aimless.
I mean, you read this comic’s recap page and the arc’s plot is very clear: Time is broken and Magneto, Polaris and Danger have been wiped from existence, so the X-Men have traveled through time to set things right. But following last issue’s trip to Marvel’s 2099 future, it was clear this issue would repeat the established formula, this time with a trip to the latter days of the original Generation X run. Only, these trips through time are taking place in an altered reality, where the original X-Men became villains and murdered Magneto and his minions.
That there–that’s where we lose the overall point of it all.
We know, eventually, Magneto and his friends will return. We know the timestream will be fixed. And we know these interactions with the original Generation X crew and the X-Men of 2099 don’t matter much, because we’re dealing with alternate versions of these teams. So, I find myself asking, why does any of this matter in the long run? What are the stakes? Honestly, it all feels very Saturday morning cartoon.
With the rant of a jaded comics veteran out of the way, let’s focus on what’s good about this issue, shall we? Because despite all that, I do believe this is a good comic. First, this issue reminds me a lot of the “Mojo Worldwide” arc, in that it hits certain nostalgia buttons. If you grew up reading Generation X like myself, you’ll enjoy seeing the now-deceased Banshee interacting with the now-crazy Emma Frost, just like the good old days.
(Just remember, these are alternate versions of them!)
Then, there are the awesome character moments that truly reward devoted X-fans. From pre-vampire Jubilee (can’t believe that stuck) telling Bloodstorm she hates vampires to Angel hitting on Husk (now, age-appropriate! #ChuckAusten #WTF), writer Cullen Bunn proves, once again, he’s a student of X-Men history.
Maybe not so good, there’s also a lot more of the same: Bunn furthering this Cyclops-Bloodstorm romance no one asked for and the team’s cracks about Scott and Jean being, well, Scott and Jean.
And then, we have our returning champion, artist R.B. Silva. If you’ve read my previous X-Men Blue reviews, you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is the constantly changing roster of artists (how fitting for an X-book). This is the second issue in a row to feature consistent art, and it feels great! Silva can’t help but produce quality work, and his fluid action scenes prove to be a real treat for the eyes.
X-Men Blue has had some great cliffhangers, but when I reached the end of this issue, all I could whimper was an, “ok.”
Fans of this series who aren’t me may pick up this issue and love it for what it is, a solid action-adventure comic. But I’m more of a big-picture reader, and right now, I can’t help but struggle to figure out where we’re going with all of this. Still, I remain a devoted fan of X-Men Blue and hope Bunn can guide me past this current state of confusion, which may or may not be Christmas-induced.