Wednesday, February 18, 2015

X-Men Forever 2 by Chris Claremont issue #14-16 (2011)

Here we are at the end of the line. It's hard to believe that I just spent a month and a half with this series with the joy and (sometimes) burden of a polarized perspective whenever I write these reviews. This would be my last Claremont series though I have plans to read his graphic novels right after XMF (most notably God Loves, Man Kills; The Dark Phoenix; and Days of Future Past). I would have opted to read his classic works in the title The Uncanny X-Men which ran until the late nineties or so but I think that would take a very long time and I have other more pressing commitments to read in the X-Men universe this year that are not strictly Claremont after all. When all is said and done, I don't have regrets choosing X-Men Forever even when I've reached a very low point while reading it. I'll be expounding on why in an official post that will detail what I've learned, loved and loathed from reading Chris Claremont as an X-Men writer. For now, let's focus on issues #14-16.

I thought it was only appropriate that X-Men Forever ends with the resolution of the Storm arc, considering it's a parallel to where the series first started which was Ororo Munroe's betrayal and deceit when she was revealed as a spy for the enemy (the Consortium) and after her brutal murder of Logan a.k.a fan-favorite Wolverine. The five-issued story arc from the first season entitled Love--And Loss! was ultimately my favorite of all the arcs and the entire series itself so I already have expectations for these three concluding issues, and I generally forego having expectations for XMF a long time ago (since the Sentinels bullshit, to be specific about it). There are two ways of looking at the ending of this series; one is a cynical  one where you still believe this series could deliver something better than it established from the beginning because you want to think Claremont still has it, considering his legacy. The other one is to accept without any sort of condescension or resentment that XMF delivered exactly what it can only achieve in its grand finale that may not be as promising as we all originally thought when we started reading past the five issues. I, of course, choose the latter. I wasn't disappointed when I finished reading issues #14-16. In fact, I thought it stuck its landing given the scope of hits-and-misses for this series as a whole. Did I think it could be better? YES. Absolutely, it could have been, but I stopped holding onto that possibility midway through the first three issues of the second season.

Divided meticulously well in three parts, the Storm story arc is a quiet and straightforward gameplay that began with the X-Men's infiltration of Wakanda (issue #14), which slowly progressed to a final climactic confrontation against the Avengers who are still in the dark in the most ridiculous and pathetic sense (it's the only thing that annoyed me about this ordeal; I really hoped Captain America and Thor would know better than to expect the worst from the X-Men when Tony Stark obviously gave up his life for the salvation of mutantkind). Finally, Perfect Storm (the vicious cunt clone) was apprehended and stored away as the real Storm (Ghost Panther and young 'Ro) have successfully merged  as one at last, and she has chosen to stay in Wakanda not only to rule its constituents but also to lead (even if the Consortium still lurks in the corner, probably ready to strike soon enough) by the end of issue #16.  Now, was it the ending that I wanted for a series that has been such a mixed bag of outrageous and convoluted plot arcs that were only balanced by the compelling character arcs its female characters represented in between? Well, the answer is truly a YES and NO combo.

YES because I'm just glad it's over and I can move on to the next X-Men title on my list. I don't think the ending would have been better either way because, though the series started out good, it  also got frustratingly disjointed midway through so hoping for an ending that will somehow fix the shitty clusterfucks that occurred earlier in the series is simply delusional. XMF, however, still tried its best to conclude on an acceptable average note. It had a nice ending, and that's it. I would also like to commend the fact that even when important characters like Wolverine and Beast died, they died not for shock value but rather in a dignified way that also allowed other characters some room to grow and thrive as individuals and as a team. I was invested in the Storm storyline so I was fine that the series ended on its pay-off. Also, I thought the character arcs with Kitty Pryde and Rogue (plus Nightwalker and Mystique) were satisfying even when they weren't absolutely concluded in this last issue. I can just come up with other ways their arcs would have developed some more which leaves a lot to contemplate about. I also thought the fact that it ended with Jean Grey and Scott (Cyclops) reconciling their differences not as lover but as comrades and leaders of the X-Men felt right. It resonated with me. Everything about this wrap-up was...NICE.

NO because there are still MANY UNASWERED QUESTIONS that are hard to ignore, particularly about the Consortium and the mutant burnout, and what is Nate Summers role in all of this debacle. These supposedly main plot arcs are swept under the rug somehow and so they were left being completely ambiguous. They're unfinished businesses that I believe weren't explored for this title sufficiently, making their impact underwhelming. I don't think Claremont ever wrote a follow-up for this. Perhaps other titles picked them up but I highly doubt it. I thought it was rather reckless and disappointing to overlook resolving these main arcs. But hey, I don't care about them in the first place so out of sight, out of mind. Now I rate these issues an 8-rating but only because I was happy about the Storm arc's pay-off.


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