When X-Men Blue and Gold reached their 13th issues, they also entered the “Legacy” era of Marvel Comics. You know, Marvel’s mea culpa to all those “die-hard” fans the publisher aliented in recent years. New stories with that classic Marvel feel! The return of beloved heroes and villains! Every series is an event! Blah, blah, blah.
With the “Mojo Worldwide” crossover, writers Cullen Bunn and Marc Guggenheim tried a little too hard to capture the feeling of “Marvel Legacy,” creating what is essentially a tedious X-Men greatest hits album that brings nothing new to the table.
Months after reading the comics contained in X-Men Gold Vol. 3: Mojo Worldwide, I find myself asking one question: Does anyone actually like Mojo?
Put your hand down, Chris Claremont!
The problem with Mojo, “an insane TV producer from another world,” as Kitty Pryde refers to him, is that his stories are always so insignificant. He’s a joke villain. But for writers of X-Men comics and cartoon series, he provides a vehicle for telling a different type of story. In an animated format, Mojo is an all-around lighter alternative to heavy villains like Magneto and Apocalypse. In the comics, and this arc, in particular, it’s an opportunity to revisit the X-Men’s most iconic events without using time travel.
And that’s pretty much what we get here. Six issues (way too many) of the X-Men bouncing from one battle to another, changing their costumes along the way. You hear that, fans? A modern X-Men comic featuring all those classic villains, and the X-Men in their ’90s uniforms! Wait, wasn’t that the point of X-Men ’92? Anyway, fans, please buy this book, it’s what you want!!!
While I’ve enjoyed Bunn’s X-Men Blue series, Guggenheim’s X-Men Gold has been anything but a good X-Men comic. It’s been one issue of poor Claremont imitation and fan pandering after another. The shift in quality between the Blue and Gold issues in this trade paperback are painfully apparent. As I’ve already given you basic plot of this crossover, I’m going to point out several examples that reflect the types of problems I see in X-Men Gold every month.
Tonally, the Gold issues in this collection are all over the place. We begin with both X-Men squads playing a game of softball, because nothing makes fans happier than seeing mutants play sports… again, and again and again. During the game, Kitty tells Jean Grey she’s sorry about Belen–a young mutant Jean brought to Kitty’s school who ended up murdered shortly after. Just a light discussion between leaders, no big deal. “Hey, Jean, sorry that girl you brought me to protect got murdered a few days later. Oh well, back to the game!”
Later on, in the middle of one of Mojo’s battle simulations, Cyclops lets it slip that he and the other original X-Men are working with Magneto, which prompts Kitty and Prestige to grill Scott about this decision. Again, Kitty, you need to work on your timing. We just saw Bloodstorm get killed in one of these simulations–is this really the time to have this talk?
Speaking of talking, Guggenheim manages to reduce many of his characters to nothing more than quip machines. In one scene, Colossus says “yet,” and Jean asks if he said “yet” or “nyet.” Haha, fun with Russians!
Then, you’ve got Old Man Logan, the alternate future Wolverine, and Jimmy Hudson, Wolverine’s son from the Ultimate Universe. In their first interaction, Logan says, “So, Jeannie tells me you’re my son,” to which Jimmy responds, “seems like.” A few issues later, Jimmy says, “Thanks, Dad,” and Logan replies with, “I ain’t yer dad.” What? But you already established he was your son. Did the editor call in sick again?
And on another editing note, we have two variations of the fastball special over the course of this arc. There’s a subtle way to give long-time X-Men readers a nod to the past; this book is not a blueprint for doing it.
I could go on and on with the examples, but I think you get the point. While the story is mediocre, the art in certain parts of this collection is actually phenomenal. Jorge Molina, who helped launch X-Men Blue, handles the art on all three Blue chapters. It’s fun to see his vibrant style applied to classic X-Men characters and costumes, as well as other Marvel heroes like Spider-Man. Also nice are Mike Mayhew’s pencils in this collection’s opening chapter. While his Mojo is a bit goofy-looking, his X-Men and X-Women all look like gorgeous supermodels.
Also wonderful: The Chip Zdarsky “How to Draw” variant cover included at the end of this volume. Zdarsky provides some biting X-Men team commentary in six steps that’s funnier than any meta commentary provided in entire “Mojo Worldwide” storyline.
So, yeah… I’m sure this collection is everything certain X-Men fans could ask for in a story, but I’m just not one of those readers. The X-Men have always been about evolution… moving forward. Six issues spent celebrating the franchise’s glory days runs counter to all of that.
And it’s also six issues devoted to Mojo mayhem. Someone call the Scarlet Witch… “No more Mojo.”