I was working on my pre-order list the other week and I ran into a bit of dilemma.  There are so many X-Men books that I’m running out of room for other stuff. 

 

Now I know I won’t get much sympathy from older fans who have been complaining about too many X-books since the late ‘80s when the franchise expanded to five with Excalibur and Wolverine.  Or maybe they had started complaining already in the mid ‘80s when New Mutants and X-Factor made it three.  But this is different.  I’m not talking about solo series or spin-off books.   I’m talking about actual X-Men books. 

 

Since last summer, there have been four X-Men titles: Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men and X-Men Legacy.  Entering this summer, those X-books are also all shipping twice a month.  Plus, there’s an all-X-Men mini-series special event.  If I was so inclined, I could buy 10 books a month that are just X-Men.  And that’s not counting solo stars or spin-off series like Wolverine or X-Factor. 

 

I suppose that Spider-Man, Superman and Batman fans are used to this.  Those characters have all had four and sometimes five titles.  And Batman’s had a slew of spin-off titles for years. 

 

The easy solution might be to drop a couple of X-books.  That would clear some room on my pull list.  And I’m sure that would teach Marvel a lesson too.  But here’s my dilemma.  I don’t buy comics in order to send messages.  I buy comics that I enjoy reading. 

 

Plus I don’t I want to drop comic books that are good so that I can buy something else that may or may not be good.  That’s another thing about these current X-Men comics.  They’re all good. 

 

X-Men Legacy has been the most distinctive title for the past year and a half.  Rogue has been the nominal lead and the book has focused on her as a mentor to the younger heroes.  It’s been a great way to keep up with many of the characters from New X-Men: Academy X.  And writer Mike Carey has done a great job of balancing Rogue’s relationships with the other X-Men, especially Gambit and Magneto. 

 

More recently, X-Men Legacy has embarked on a mini-crossover with New Mutants in the alternate reality story Age of X.  I was a little hesitant about the story based on an extra prelude piece but the actual story has been incredible.  Carey has done a great job of putting familiar characters into unfamiliar situations (Cyclops as the rough outsider Basilisk, Magneto as the inspirational leader, etc.).  And there’s been a very cool mystery at the heart of this alternate reality.

 

I can’t wait to see how Age of X is going to end.  So X-Men Legacy isn’t exactly a candidate for the chopping block.

 

X-Men, sans adjective, is the newest of the X-Men titles.  It’s also the current flagship in that it sets the direction for the line.  It launched with the big Curse of the Mutants story which pitted the X-Men versus vampires and spilled over into several other titles.  It’s currently running a story called Protect and Serve, which has been accompanied by an anthology called To Serve and Protect. 

 

Ignore its flagship status and focus on the story itself: X-Men is really good.  In the current story, Storm and a team of X-Men flew off to New York to investigate rumors of kidnappings in the sewers.  They thought they were going to encounter a new gang of Morlocks.  Instead, they’ve run into a new breed of reptile warriors.  The result is a surprise team-up with Spider-Man in a follow-up to Shed, Spidey’s excellent Lizard story from last year.  The sneak sequel is even drawn by the same artist, the amazing Chris Bachalo.  

 

That’s pretty cool.  I’m not about to drop the X-Men in the middle of an amazing Spider-Man team-up. 

 

Uncanny X-Men is the original X-Men title and it’s still the heart of the franchise.  It was the driving force behind the Utopia and Second Coming stories- and Second Coming was the best X-Men crossover in more than a decade.    

 

The most recent story was called Quarantine.  A villain had devised a mutant-specific flu and released it on the X-Men’s home island.  On the island, we watched as the science team worked for a cure while their teammates slowly succumbed to the illness.  Meanwhile, a select squad of X-Men, absent when the virus hit, were tasked with protecting the city of San Francisco by themselves.  They also took it upon themselves to take down the villain.  Quarantine was a great underdog story as the X-Men had to overcome overwhelming odds.

 

Now, Uncanny is starting a new story: a sequel to Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s astonishing adventure on Breakworld.  Even if it doesn’t match the original, that’s a story worth checking out. 

 

Astonishing X-Men used to be the premier X-Men title.  It was the showcase for superstars like the aforementioned Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.  They were followed by Warren Ellis and star artists like Simone Bianchi and Phil Jimenez.  That’s not the case anymore.  Apologies to Daniel Way fans, but he doesn’t exactly carry the same cachet as those other creators.

 

I almost didn’t pick up the newest arc of Astonishing X-Men.  I preordered it out of habit before I realized the creative team had changed.  But I’m glad I got it.  The current story is Monstrous and the basic premise is the X-Men versus gigantic Japanese monsters.  Marvel’s own dragon, Fin Fang Foom, has escaped from Monster Island and is attacking Tokyo.  Before you can say “Godzilla,” the X-Men are called in to combat it.  It’s just a fun, crazy story. 

I suppose that if the story was badly told, I’d have no problem cutting Astonishing X-Men.  But I’m not about to jump ship on this kind of crazy.

 

So there’s my dilemma.  The four X-Men titles are, at least right now, all different and all good. 

 

I have a few possible solutions.  I might stop preordering a couple of the titles and pick up shelf copies.  That way, I’m better positioned to drop one of them if they change to a story or a creative team that I don’t like as much. 

 

Yet as long as they’re all this good, I guess I don’t mind if they continue to take up a big part of my pull list.  It may not allow for as much variety as I’ve been used to in the past.  But at least I know that I’m reading stories I like.        


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Comment by Chris Fluit on May 9, 2011 at 11:40am
Chris, I enjoy the various X-titles, more than I have in years. I suspect the greater prominence of Cyclops, who has always been "Mr. X-Man" to me, despite Wolverine's popularity, is the reason.

I'm glad that you're enjoying the X-books now. I agree that the greater role for Cyclops is one of the reasons why the books are so good. However, I think the change has more to do with his relationship to Professor X than to Wolverine. Like a lot of young heroes, the X-Men started out with a mentor. But eventually they needed to outgrow that mentor in order to become fully realized heroes on their own. That's been apparent since the mid '60s when Roy Thomas first tried to kill off Professor X. But I don't think it's ever worked as well as it has now. That's partly because Xavier hasn't been killed or exiled to Shiar space. He's still around. It's just that Cyclops is clearly the one in charge and everybody defers to him, including Xavier.

It seems to me that the original five-member X-Men team have sort of been replicated as the core team today, only with everyone more or less beefed up (which answers those who complain the original five were too weak). Angel has been upgraded to Archangel, Wolverine is now the resident "Beast," and Marvel Girl's telepathy/telekinesis has been replaced by Emma Frost's telepathy/telekinesis AND diamond form. Iceman is usually replaced by Storm, who also controls the environment -- but not just temperature. So she's a more powerful "Iceman" and follows my pattern. My question is: Do you see this, too, or is it just coincidence or story needs that I'm mistaking for deliberate effort?

I'm not so sure about that. I agree that there's a new core, and that Cyclops, Emma Frost and Wolverine are in it. But Storm has been on the periphery of the X-titles for a couple of years while she's been loaned out to Black Panther. She's been coming back- especially in a couple of Astonishing arcs- but she's not a core character in several of the other books. And Angel has been beefed up but he's not a main character in the main X-books. He's mostly been relegated to the squad leader for the B-team. I like your idea. I'm just not sure I see it in the actual books.

Secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion that "Age of X" is going to result in the return of some characters who are dead in our reality, and/or Bizarro duplicates of ones we still have. This happened after "Age of Apocalypse," when Dark Beast, Blink and Holocaust came here from that dystopic reality and became regularly recurring characters. Do you agree? And if so, what characters do you (or anyone else reading this) think will or should survive from Age of X?

Again, I'm not sure. (spoilers ahoy!) Age of X has been revealed to be a mental construct by Legion, not an alternate timeline a la Age of Apocalypse. So I don't know that any of the alternate versions will make their way over to Marvel 616 intact. That's not to say that Age of X won't have an impact. Based on advertisements, it looks like the Legacy title might shift from Rogue training younger mutants to the rehabilitation of characters such as Xavier and Legion. I think the other impact might be that some of "our" characters evolve slightly to become more like their Age of X counterparts. For example, I fully expect Hellion to adopt the telekinetic prosthetic arms. However, if I'm wrong, I'd love to see this version of Frenzy join the X-Men.
Comment by Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man on May 8, 2011 at 10:51pm
This is the first time in many years I've had any interest in any X-Men title. But for the first time I'm a regular follower of Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine. That's enough for me right now. I tried Uncanny X-Men not too long ago, but found it pretty bland. Oh, and I also read the new (!?) adjectiveless X-Men title, but only for the Chris Bachalo Lizard/Spider-Man story, but only for the art and Spider-Man.
Comment by Captain Comics on May 8, 2011 at 2:18pm

Chris, I enjoy the various X-titles, more than I have in years. I suspect the greater prominence of Cyclops, who has always been "Mr. X-Man" to me, despite Wolverine's popularity, is the reason. But we really don't talk about them much here, so let's do so. And since you're our resident X-pert, I want to ask you a couple of things.

 

It seems to me that the original five-member X-Men team have sort of been replicated as the core team today, only with everyone more or less beefed up (which answers those who complain the original five were too weak). Angel has been upgraded to Archangel, Wolverine is now the resident "Beast," and Marvel Girl's telepathy/telekinesis has been replaced by Emma Frost's telepathy/telekinesis AND diamond form. Iceman is usually replaced by Storm, who also controls the environment -- but not just temperature. So she's a more powerful "Iceman" and follows my pattern. My question is: Do you see this, too, or is it just coincidence or story needs that I'm mistaking for deliberate effort?

 

Secondly, I have a sneaking suspicion that "Age of X" is going to result in the return of some characters who are dead in our reality, and/or Bizarro duplicates of ones we still have. This happened after "Age of Apocalypse," when Dark Beast, Blink and Holocaust came here from that dystopic reality and became regularly recurring characters. Do you agree? And if so, what characters do you (or anyone else reading this) think will or should survive from Age of X?

 

I can't really imagine the mechanics of it, but if the Age of X Rogue (called "Legacy") came here with a few followers, that band could take over X-Men: Legacy, finally giving meaning to that name! It would also, IMHO, give that title a reason to exist that it currently doesn't have. Still, two Rogues seems a bit much, and I can't figure out how it would work, unless the 616 version got killed.

 

What do you think?

Comment by Jason Marconnet (Pint sized mod) on May 8, 2011 at 1:01pm

I'm glad you love the X-men, Chris. I love them too, I just haven't it picked up the series in a while. I grew up with the characters on Saturday mornings. I do like the 90's style when there was the blue team and the gold team.

 

As far as not discussing X-men much that's about to change. I got some deals at FCBD yesterday. I got the complete Joss Whedon Astonishing X-men in hard cover, X-men Endangered Species, hard cover and a bunch of x-men mini series from the 5 for $1 bin. The mini series I got were X-men Secret Invasion, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Iceman, and Cyclops. Those last one were from the Icon series a few years back.

Comment by George on May 7, 2011 at 5:55pm

The decline in Claremont's craft as a writer drove me away from the X-books in the late '80s. I barely noticed when he left in 1991.

 

Overexposure always makes a character less interesting and less believable to me. Spider-Man was most believable when he appeared in one magazine a month, Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel began to dilute this with the addition of Marvel Team-Up (1972) and Peter Parker (1976). I could see they were doing with Spidey what DC had done with Batman and Superman decades earlier: cashing in on a popular character.

 

Comment by Lee Houston, Junior on May 7, 2011 at 4:14pm

Chris:

I had a similar problem back in the early 1990s. There were so many X-books then (two different titles with the core team, X-Factor, X-Calibur, etc)  that I was having trouble keeping up with continuity.

I kept trying, but eventually, Marvel forced my hand when they took and suddenly fired Chris Claremont from writing duties. At the time, he was practically the X-writer of note, so I just dropped all the X-titles.

Considering some of the events that have happened to the Marvel Universe in general and the X-titles specifically since, I haven't looked back or regretted the decision.

My solution might not be the one for you, but good luck with whatever you decide.

 

Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on May 7, 2011 at 11:06am

"That's a great suggestion, Jeff.  If I had my own iPad, I'd strongly consider it.  But I don't get to borrow anacoqui's iPad often enough to read that many comics.  And I don't really like reading them at the computer."

 

I can tell you right now that the Marvel subscription program doesn't work in the iPad. It requires Flash and Apple mobile devices don't allow Flash. There's a workaround, though. I use a program called Splashtop that lets my iPad remotely control my desktop. That way, the desktop is running the Flash program and the iPad displays it and let's me turn pages, etc. This does mean that I'm limited to using the Marvel subscriptions within my own home.

 

Another way to do it is to use the Marvel Comics app from ComiXology (or just the ComiXology app, for that matter) to purchase individual issues. It's more expensive that way (although it still tends to be cheaper than buying physical copies) but the comics are actually stored in your iPad so you can read them anywhere. All versions of the ComiXology app (and the IDW app and the Dark Horse app and ...) have free issues you can try. Borrow Ana's iPad and give it a try.

Comment by Chris Fluit on May 7, 2011 at 10:15am

But frankly I don't think four titles is all that many under the circumstances.

 

But it's four titles that are shipping bi-monthly for the summer so that's the equivalent of eight.  Throw in the major event, Schism, and we're talking ten.  As long as they're all good, I don't mind.  But that is a big chunk of my monthly quota.  However, I have done as I suggested which is to keep buying them but to stop preordering them so that I can adjust quickly to changes in any of the titles.

 

ps.  Thanks for all of the comments and questions, everyone.  I'm glad to see a discussion like this.

 

pps.  As to Philip's opening question, I thought that Travis gave a great answer.  I really couldn't have said it much better.

Comment by Chris Fluit on May 7, 2011 at 10:11am

I think the simple answer, Chris, is to subscribe to Marvel's digital program. You'll have to wait to read them but you're paying a flat rate for access to the entire Marvel digital library and you don't have to store the comics when you're done reading them.

 

That's a great suggestion, Jeff.  If I had my own iPad, I'd strongly consider it.  But I don't get to borrow anacoqui's iPad often enough to read that many comics.  And I don't really like reading them at the computer.

 

 

Comment by Chris Fluit on May 7, 2011 at 10:09am

 

Are their clear delinations (spelling) between the teams or none at all?

 

No.  The titles typically focus on the same set of characters.  I have fond memories of the early '90s X-Men that divided the team into two separate squads but I think that Marvel would now rather have the same recognizable core for each title.  So Cyclops, Emma Frost and Wolverine are in every title.  They're rounded out by a combination of other characters depending on the story arc.  Magneto, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Storm, Submariner are the most frequent.  Other supporting characters are more likely to show up in one title than another (Dazzler and Northstar in Uncanny, Beast and Armor in Astonishing) but it's one big happy family rather than a bunch of separate teams.  The one exception is Legacy which has been following Rogue as she trains the younger mutants.  The other X-Men show up in that one, too, but more as a supporting cast.  

 

Do they all reside in the mansion grounds? Are some in San Fran and some in New York?

 

They all reside on Utopia, an island off the coast of San Francisco.  Currently, there is no mansion in New York.

 

Is there some sort of massive dormitory?

 

Yes.  The island has a huge compound with dormitories, command center and more.  I'd love to see a map or cut-out of the island some time but so far we haven't gotten anything official. 

 

Who is the absolute leader of the organization?

 

Cyclops.  He's the undisputed leader at the present.  But the upcoming crossover, Schism, might change that.

 

Do the various squads swap members often?

 

Yes and no.  There aren't official squads, so they can't technically swap members.  But they do set up different mission teams and those will change from story to story.

 

Is it ever explained who foots the bill for their lifestyle, the team's upkeep and the grounds? (I would assume it's just explained as the remnants of Xavier's fortune, but who knows.)

 

I think it's Worthington's fortune at this time rather than Xavier's.  They're also receiving aid from Namor and the Atlanteans. 

 

Just how many current, active members are there in the X-Men? (I suspect there's no "formal" membership the way there is with the Avengers or Justice League. I think if you're a mutant, generally on the "side of good," and hang out with them then you're a member.)

 

You're right that there is no set membership.  The good mutants all live on an island together so it's more of a society than a super-team.  Within the mutant society, there are the X-Men, the New Mutants, the students and the science team. 

 

The X-Men include Cyclops, Emma Frost, Wolverine, Angel, Colossus, Dazzler, Gambit, Iceman, Magneto, Northstar, Psylocke, Shadowcat, Storm and Submariner- though we usually see a half-dozen of that group in any given issue. 

The students include Anole, Armor (counted as an X-Man in Astonishing, as a student in the others), Blindfold, Bling, Hellion, Hope, Indra, Loa, Match, Mercury, Pixie, Prodigy, Rockslide, the Stepford Cuckoos and Surge- though we typically only see a couple at a time.

The science team includes Dr. Kavita Rao (human), Dr. Nemesis and Madison Jefferies (Box). 

Beast and X-23 both recently left the X-Men though they still appear in occasional stories.

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