Monday, January 5, 2015

X-Men: Mutant Genesis by Chris Claremont

Chris Claremont is the definitive writer of the X-Men comics. He wrote for this series for sixteen years, if you can imagine. The X-Men that I personally grew up with was the animated series version which was more or less based from Claremont's stories.

This is why I chose to read first the 1991-1992 short run of X-Men which only had eleven issues. This volume is comprised of the first seven of that roster with two main story arcs; one about Magneto (#1-3) while the rest is about Wolverine (#4-7) though the latter was more or less satisfying than the former, honestly speaking. Illustrated and co-plotted by one of today's sensational artists Jim Lee, Mutant Genesis started with an epic three-part Magneto-centered arc that never stops making my chest hurt for all the right reasons. As a kid who grew up in the nineties, these characters are personal to me in the most nostalgic sense and both Claremont and Lee were able to capture what I remember most fondly about them. It's been generally a pleasant experience, particularly with the first three issues which are fucking amazing because (1) It's Magneto in his most tormented, raging self; (2) It's a slice of the poignancy and complicated relationship between Magneto and Professor X who are totally married in mind and spirit whether you see it or not; (3) Jim Lee evens out Claremont's verbosity in writing dialogue by ensuring his visuals are simplistic yet also detailed enough to gloss over.

Here are some blurbs (with links to the reviews themselves) that I wrote for every issue of this volume. I painstakingly managed to review all seven within three days last week as a form of warm-up since I'll be reviewing tons and tons AND TONS of X-Men comics for the rest of the year. Please pray that my sanity and overall mental health will be able to have a safe voyage all throughout.

Issue #1 "Rubicon" --> In which Magneto broods over cataclysmic effects from a previous Uncanny X-Men subplot as the X-Men undergo various drills in the Danger Room like any other day in the office. Also otherwise known as the issue where Magneto makes a comeback to earth just so he can nuke some ship, while he gets chased around in air by his ex-girlfriend Rogue who tries to calm him the fuck down. This issue includes Mags being an angry emo.

Issue #2 "Firestorm" --> In which Magneto and the X-Men arrive in Genosha, alternating between trying to make peace and beating the shit out of each other. Also otherwise known as the issue where Magneto rips an entire fucking house where Moira MacTaggert and Professor X were staying in just so he could have a conversation in space. Also otherwise known as the issue where Magneto throws Prof X in space, threatening to choke the life out of him unless Moira confesses to her crimes directed against Magneto. This issue includes a fabulously shippy BDSM Mags/Prof X cover that basically spells out Magneto's unusual penchant for tying up his "best friend" in compromising poses.

Issue #3 "Fallout" --> In which the X-Men fight amongst each other, Magneto tortures Moira by covering her in some kind of skin-tight metal as he proceeds to aggressively interrogate her, and Professor X loses his shit as he tries to convince Magneto that it's not too late, they still could have it all but totally not in a gay way. Otherwise known as the issue where Rogue captures the essence of their fractured friendship in just two short sentences. Also more importantly known as the issue where Magneto and Professor X leave us with the most depressing and uplifting speeches respectively. This issue made me mutter "Erik, no!" and "Don't do this, Erik!" James McAvoy-style while I read it.

This three-issued arc was actually intended to be the very last X-Men piece Chris Claremont ever wrote for the series. That alone makes it something worth reading. It's edgy, dramatic, heartbreaking and gorgeously drawn. I could have made it through an entire week with nothing but this story's aftertaste in my soul. Unfortunately, there are four issues after it that were merely entertaining if not mildly ridiculous and annoying. My high rating for Mutant Genesis as a volume is solely because of the Magneto arc which I will never stop enjoying. It would have received a perfect score if it wasn't for the second arc that was only delightful when it was appropriately campy and cartoonish, and underwhelming whenever it takes the easy route. Claremont did not impress me with these:

Issue #4 "The Resurrection and the Flesh" --> In which Gambit tries to score with Rogue during their first date but Wolverine, Jubilee and Beast decided to be total dicks and turn it into a group hang instead. Otherwise known as the issue of super awkwardness when the gang were sabotaged by a group of armed men and Wolverine was segregated so he can fight a death match with a fucktard character I don't care about. This is also the issue where Moira finally snaps and leaves her boyfriend Sean (Banshee).

Issue #5 "Blowback" --> In which people try to get Wolverine to remember certain things about his forgotten past because this is the point in the comics where Wolverine is perpetually living a blackout where his memories are basically eggshells only the most desperate would step into. Otherwise known as the issue where Wolverine is still one of the best characters ever but this shitty storyline almost made his participation unbearable to read. It features Dazzler and Longshot on the side but nobody cares.

Issue #6 "Farther Still" --> In which Wolverine gets more shit from stupid characters like Matsuo (and his stupid poser hair), Omega Red and German twins called the Fenris who are mostly there to fill the quota of villains. Otherwise known as the issue where Sabertooth appears and makes things a bit entertaining, and Psylocke's telepathy gets used against her for the second time.

Issue #7 "Inside...Out!" --> In which Wolverine gets tortured physically again because he's Wolverine. Otherwise known as the issue where everything thankfully and mercifully wraps up on a happy note at least. This issue features Wolverine and Cyclops having a rather sweet dialogue exchange that makes me almost wish Jean Grey doesn't happen because she just gets in the way for a real friendship to develop between them. This issue actually spares the dipshit Matsuo from the agonizing acid death I've been praying he gets. Goddammit.

Ah, who am I kidding? I'm reading X-Men mostly because I ship Magneto and Professor X and I will never stop making cheeky commentary about the nature of their "friendship". Also, because of Rogue. And Storm. And Jean Grey, kindda. And Wolverine, sometimes. And superhero teamwork that makes me want to put on a cheerleader uniform and do a pep rally in the name of the X-Men. Just do yourself a favor and read an X-Men title preferrably this one (but only the first three issues).


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