Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Sean Chen (p), Sandu Florea (i), Avalon’s Ian Hannin (colors)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Three words: WTF?
The battle between the X-Men and Cassandra ends not with one side losing, but both sides growing. Xavier realizes the flaw in his dream and vision for mutants. Madelyne Pryor’s true nature is revealed. And 20 years later, the legend of the X-Men leads to a new beginning for mutants and humans.
Looking back, this trilogy can be seen as a metaphor for Claremont’s work on the X-Men. Book 1 brought new visions and life to these characters, much like he did when he first started writing Uncanny X-Men in 1975. Book 2 revealed secrets and deepened mysteries as the cast expanded. The same happened in the 1980s as Claremont created more X-Men spin-offs, expanded characters’ histories, and planted the seeds for later, larger storylines.
Book 3 has sadly been like Claremont’s recent return to the characters. He’s been forced to incorporate changes made by other writers. While Cassandra made for a great ultimate villain that tied back into the premise of the X-Men and Xavier’s motivations, Scott’s marriage to Emma Frost has been ignored. And TJ, Nightcrawler’s daughter, has had nothing to do with anything since Book 1. There’s also the side-plot of Kate Pryde’s mayoral election. It never had anything to do with the attacks on the X-Men or the ultimate battle in space. It’s justified only by an ending that could have stood on its own. The old criticisms of Claremont’s stories having too much dialogue and narration and the women hogging all the action are validated here.
Worst of all, the ending is just so damn confusing! I’m glad to see Madelyne Pryor get a happy ending, but wasn’t she a Warskrull? When did she become an aspect of Jean Grey? Was the Skrull possessed by this aspect? And what’s this about the Pheonix creating a Tree of Life from the X-Men and, um, “ascending”, I guess? I think Claremont was working for a mythology only he understood.
But there is one thing I liked: The flaw in Xavier’s vision. Prof. X’s first encounter with a mutant, his sister, inspired him with fear and hatred. So he came to believe everyone would hate and fear mutants. He created a place where they could hide and learn to fight. How would things have changed if he encouraged mutants to live and work with humans instead of fighting them? The best way to end prejudice is to bring different peoples together.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: The art in this comic looks flat. I don’t know if it’s Chen’s pencils, Florea’s inks, or Avalon’s coloring, but the action just feels dull. The people stand stiffly. And it’s often hard to sort out who’s who. (Is that Magneto standing next to Xavier?) It’s not technically bad, but it’s not exactly great either.
As Kate says at the end, the X-Men was an idea who’s time has passed. Any perception that involves hate and fear, whether it’s felt by you or the people you face, is inherently limited. It often leads to violence and more anger. Perhaps the X-Men should never have hid away in their school fighting battles in secret. Perhaps they should always have been open to the public and showing people how much they have in common.
But that wouldn’t be a very exciting comic, would it?
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