Editor's Note: Genext #4 arrives in stores tomorrow, August 13.
The mere mention of writer Chris Claremont's name is probably enough to send X-Men fans into fits of nostalgia. Claremont's narratives encapsulated the golden days for many. They were the days of the Phoenix, of the Fall of the Mutants, of X-Tinction Agenda and of the mutant island of Genosha.
Now Claremont carries on the X-Men tradition by penning the adventures of Genext, the next generation of X-Men, comprised of powerful mutant youngsters with direct ties to the original lineup, like Pavel Rasputin who is related to Colossus and Olivier Raven, son of Gambit and Rogue. Additionally, Marvel reserves the use of one its most popular new characters, X-23 not for Young X-Men, but for this series.
In this issue, the group have absconded the original Blackbird to search for their missing friend and Xavier Institute student No-Name while an evil Jean Grey doppelganger threatens the place in their absence.
Part of the problem with this comic is that Claremont isn't treading on any new ground here when it comes to developing the dynamics of a youthful team. Powerful teen groups training for bigger things have been a staple of comics for quite some time, dating back to Young Allies in the 40s; The New Mutants and DC's Teen Titans are more contemporary examples.
What's different about this title is Claremont's experience at having written about the original team, which he can use to shape the characterization of this new generation of X-Men recruits. For example, in this issue Olivier takes his fellow conspirators to his parents' house in Valle Soleda where he talks about his dad's feelings toward the X-Mansion after his mom died. It is mildly enjoyable to get this level of introspection from a relatively new character in a brand new series, and Claremont shapes small moments like this with precision, but I don't think it is enough to hold my interest long term.
Soon, the group tracks down No-Name to a residence rooftop where she talks to members of the Shockwave Riders, but things get complicated when she keeps saying that they are her family.
Frankly, despite Claremont's best efforts, this comic gets a bit boring. There is too much interaction between the group prior to the big fight and most of it is uninteresting dialogue about how a leader should act, and whether the world needs the X-Men anymore.
Part of the problem is that despite their history, these kids aren't as interesting as their parents. Derivative characters seldom are, with the possible exception of X-23. Up to this point Claremont has failed to create interesting new characters, instead relying on carbon copies of the original formula. What's worse, this Generation Y version of the X-Men's verbal interactions are punctuated by such teen speak as "True that," and by dialogue which sounds about as natural as Darth Vader's breathing.
The artwork by Patrick Sherberger is also unimpressive. Though he has a good handle on the characters and on action sequences, his cartoonish flair is influenced by his contemporaries and feels as though he is still searching for his own distinct style.
Final Word: Have you read comics such as the old X-Force, New X-Men, Young X-Men and Runaways laid out in cartoonish mangaesque panels? Does it feel like there is a young team of X-Men recruits seemingly every few years? That's because there is, and that is because you probably have. The novelty has worn off, what we want now are good comic book narratives and fewer stories about confused teen romances and other clichés.
What did you think of this book?
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