Let me say up front that I have a life. I’m married, have three kids and a mortgage and car payments and a good job. I may be a geek, but I also have perspective on this hobby.
And this comic has me outraged.
In much the same way that J. Michael Straczynski destroyed fans’ memories of Gwen Stacy in the “Sins Past” storyline, so has Ed Brubaker destroyed the character of Professor Xavier. In this story, Professor X admits he lied to his students for many years, covering up the actions he took years ago. See, after the original X-Men were lost attacking a living mutant Pacific island, Professor X recruited another set of new X-Men, a group of four bland characters who failed at saving the original team. One of the new team was a heretofore unrevealed brother of Cyclops and Havok. So the new team fails and all of them die, including the brother. Another new team comes in and saves the day, eventually becoming the X-Men we all know and love, who all idolized and worked for Professor X. But in the thirty years since Giant-Size X-Men #1, Professor X never has revealed the existence of the interim team, nor has he ever mentioned their brother to either Cyclops or Havok. In other words, the new team sacrifice themselves in vain. It’s believed that all of them die, so Professor X can always keep his greatest failure secret.
Unfortunately for cover-up artist Xavier, the brother somehow survives and reveals all of Professor X’s lies. Immediately, 45 years after this character was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, one of the stalwarts of the Marvel Universe suddenly is overwhelmed by his lies. This man isn’t the paragon of mutant rights that he was always presented to be. Instead he’s a liar and a man who covers up his actions. Professor X is not a hero; he’s absolutely a villain, putting his convenience and a wish to avoid a nasty confrontation in front of the truth.
So let me underline what is revealed here: instead of telling Cyclops and Havok that their previously unknown brother had died, Professor X lies to everybody for years and years. The very man that dozens of X-Men and hundreds of schoolchildren trusted with their lives, a man whom they literally trusted with their thoughts, had lied to them over the greatest secret of their past. For no real reason. So basically Marvel shits on the reputation of a character that’s been around for 45 years, and for what? What do readers get from this revelation? That Professor X is a manipulator and liar? What in the hell is the point of that? Doesn’t this sort of arbitrary and malicious plot twist serve to drive casual readers away from comics? It’s bad enough that a comic from 2006 turns on a story published over thirty years ago; more than that, the story expects readers to be willing to accept this twist on one of the most dependable characters in Marvel’s history.
Adding insult to injury is the clunky pace of this comic. This is one of those comics that pretty much consists of flashbacks and a character reciting what happens. Rather than see scenes develop, we get characters explaining those scenes, giving the book a ponderous pace.
The artwork is okay, I guess, but that’s not the prime selling point for this comic. Trevor Hairsine’s art isn’t as flashy or spectacular as it usually is, but it’s competent enough to make the story comprehensible.
But it’s Brubaker’s story that’s at issue here. And it’s utterly frustrating and offensive. This is all so far away from the traditional Marvel style and ideal, so obnoxious on so many levels, that you have to wonder just why the hell Marvel would put out such a thing.