Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Devolution


X-Men Forever Volumes 1 & 2

The tail-end of Chris Claremont’s first-run on writing Uncanny X-Men was the period that made me a fan of the Marvel’s mutant books. The diverse cast of characters, multiple subplots, and darker themes made it something that stood out among mainstream comic books.

After Claremont’s departure, the books seemed to lose their focus for a few years, it wasn’t because of a lack of talent, but just that Claremont’s decade plus experience with these characters was difficult to replicate.

Claremont eventually returned to write the X-Books, but it seemed like he had lost some of his rhythm. They were no longer in the same places that he had left them. Instead he was coordinating his work with storylines developed by others.

With X-Men Forever, Claremont has been given the chance to do a redo. He gets to pick up right where his first run ended in the early Nineties. From there he gets to take these characters in directions very different from what went before and without regard to the constraints of continuity with the current books.

Since his former artistic collaborator, Jim Lee, is no longer available (becoming co-publisher of DC Comics makes it difficult to do new work for Marvel), Claremont is joined by the excellent illustrators Tom Grummet and Paul Smith along with the solid contributions of Steve Scott.

This new series is like going home again. It’s like going back in a time machine and picking up some comics from around 1994. There are some very surprising plot twists and Claremont does take some liberties with the continuity he was working with at the time of departure.

I really am enjoying this series more than I should. While it makes me experience waves of nostalgia, there’s still a realization that comics have moved on from that period of time. As much as I loved those old X-Men stories, they did have their limitations as works of art.

I hope the market has a place for X-Men Forever, but I also wish even more for a market that pushes the medium forward.

2 comments:

Mindy Crouchley said...

Awesome - your review makes me actually want to pick this book up and read through it. Gonna make a Guapo run tonight to pick up a few issues. Is there any particular place you suggest jumping in with X-Men Forever?

Hisham said...

The first volume is probably the best place to start, but if you're familiar with the early 90s X-Men then you can catch on pretty quickly the context of the stories and what has changed from the main continuity.