Ever since I was a kid I wanted to read through all the X-Men comics that had ever been published. I think this desire arose because I hated picking up a comic and having no idea who half the characters were. It kind of turned into a pathological need to see things from the beginning. As a result, there are a lot of series with really crappy early parts that I’ve suffered through because I didn’t feel like I could skip over them to the good stuff.
I got better, though I definitely still prefer to view a series chronologically if there’s not a good reason to skip ahead.
That’s a tangent. After I graduated from college, I finally found I had the means to make my dream of reading all the X-Men comics printed come true. So I did. I’m all caught up now, with only about a year’s delay on new comics (I can’t afford to buy them new, so I pick my comics up secondhand). And I’ve learned something from reading all of those comics that span now 50 years of publishing history.
Some parts of the X-Men canon are freaking terrible.
I’m not going to complain about the Chris Claremont era, nor do I have a problem with Scott Lobdell‘s run in the ’90s. I loved New Mutants‘s entire first volume until Rob Liefeld came along and brutally wrecked my favorite series and transformed it into the travesty that was the original X-Force.
I hated X-Force while Liefeld was on the creative team. I despise his art, and the direction that he took the characters was gratingly bad. But I read every issue of its original run too.
Uncanny X-Men, the flagship title of the X-Men franchise has typically been well done. Though there were different periods in continuity when it wasn’t my favorite book, I found that I could reliably count on it to be a solid story. Of course, that all went down the drain when Chuck Austen had his run on the series back in the early 2000s, concurrent with Grant Morrison’s famous run on New X-Men. Where I thought that Morrison’s run was practically sublime (I’ve yet to read a story by Morrison that I didn’t think was complete insanity and total joy at the same time), I groaned every time I read one of Austen’s arcs.
He had the infamous plotline where Nightcrawler took holy orders to become a Catholic priest, which was actually a sham ordination enacted by some religious extremists who wanted to set him up as the new Pope and thereby bring about the End Times because a mutant who looks like a demon being the head of the Catholic Church must be equivalent to the antichrist, right?
Take a moment and just gape in awe at the sheer amount of stupidity contained in that plot summary. I don’t know what to say to it.
Maybe someday I’ll take a look at that particular travesty when I can figure out how to heap enough scorn on it, but for now I’m going to examine another arc that Austen wrote called “She Lies with Angels.” All you need to know for right now is that it’s a “tribute” to Romeo & Juliet. Set in Kentucky. With bigots. And kids who’ve not seen each other in nearly a decade, but have held a candle for the romance they had for a few weeks at a watering hole when they were ten. It’s not as stupid as Nightcrawler the mutant Pope, but there’s a lot to say about it, so for once, I’m actually going to break this up into
two six posts (other content will be running this week as well, if comic book rants are not your thing). Tune in for the next part when I get into what exactly was wrong with it.