This time around, I’m covering a very small run of the Uncanny X-Men. This is because it is the time of the ‘X-Tinction Agenda’ story arc and it runs through not only three X-Men books but also three in both X-Factor and New Mutants, for a total of nine books. In addition to that block, I took in the X-Men: True Friends mini-series which, despite the goofy name, ended up being the best read out of the whole thing.
‘X-Tinction Agenda’ is billed as being some sort of big showdown between the various X-teams and the forces of Genosha - a recurring island country that uses mutants as slave labor. Collaborating with Genosha is one of X-Factor’s former friends and current enemies, Cameron Hodge. It’s nice to see all the mutants hanging out together and fighting the same enemies, but the arc fell flat on its face.
Chris Claremont held up his end of the story in X-Men, but someone else writes the other two and man, she is not that good. I don't who was in control of the overall plot, but they didn’t do enough for it. The end result was a giant battle in which everyone almost dies, everyone eventually escapes and then all the bad stuff that happened to people got reversed before the next chapter started up. Very few real changes came about due to this arc.
The artwork is another problem entirely. Jim Lee does Uncanny X-Men, so it looks great. The other two are done by less skilled artists and I was confused about what I was even looking at more than half the time. Some of the frames are incredibly complex and proved to be too much for the artists involved. They come across almost as simplistic as some of the work that was done in the '60s, with barely a hint of all that has developed over the years in terms of technique.
It is storylines like this that remove all credibility from the title, as if a majority of it had not already been killed by resurrecting everyone that died over and over again. I could have skipped these nine books entirely and probably not felt lost at all, except for maybe wondering why Storm was old again. Oh wait, I’m still wondering that cause the explanation they gave was so half-assed that it made no sense.
The only good thing was the reintroduction of Havoc to the line-up. Apparently he had been hanging out with the Genoshans, brainwashed and working for them. This, of course, is rectified by the end of the arc like all the other problems. ‘X-Tinction Agenda’ was a real low point for the X-titles and I’m in fear of moving forward anymore, lest my childhood memories get laid to waste.
My other read, the X-Men: True Friends mini-series was, in contrast, a nice three-issue run. The chief enemy was Shadow King (who I’ve always found to be boring), but the setting is a World War II Ireland to which Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) and lil’ Phoenix (Rachel Summers) find themselves transported mystically. The plausibility is goofy and the way the past and present is mixed up lacks proper continuity, but Claremont presents a compelling storyline with a very intriguing and mature version of Shadowcat. I almost wish that he could introduce her again to Uncanny X-Men, as long as he continued to write her the same way.
Hopefully, next week has more to offer. After ‘X-Tinction Agenda’ it could hardly get worse. Of course, by saying that I’ve probably jinxed myself…