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Tuesday, November 26, 2019 

Times-Record fawns over Jonathan Hickman's X-books

The Fort Smith Times-Record turned out a predictably biased column by Andrew Smith about Hickman's X-Men reboots, with nary an objective word on whether Moira MacTaggart's retcon into a mutant is appropriate or not:
Here’s how it began: Back in July, superstar writer Jonathan Hickman launched two related, six-issue miniseries: “House of X,” and “Powers of X.” Despite starring the X-Men, both books were pronounced as if the “X” in each title was the Roman numeral 10.

The reason for this became clear fairly quickly. A human named Moria MacTaggert, who at one point was an inamorata of Professor Xavier, turned out to be a mutant. And her super-power was a wild one: She reincarnates as herself in the womb over and over again, essentially reliving her life in a new timeline where she tries to avoid the mistakes of the previous ones.

As it turns out, the current universe we are all living in is (or appears to be) Moira’s tenth life — hence, the Roman numeral 10.

Without changing a single word of what had gone before, Hickman had changed everything. Especially since Moira revealed herself to the mind-reading Professor Xavier — who discovered from Moira’s memories that in every one of her past lives, mutants were wiped out. Wiped. Out. No matter what steps Moira took.
By stating "a human" he makes it sound like Moira was little more than obscure, flash-in-the-pan cast member. Very insulting to what's come before. And who says this doesn't change anything in past publication? From a story perspective, it makes little sense Xavier wouldn't have known, or that it wouldn't have been written about in older storylines. At best, it's more like a vague variation on Days of Future Past, which didn't really change the future for Rachel Summers, who'd become a recurring character, later appearing in Excalibur for a time.

But the main problem is that Hickman takes a character who was originally meant to serve as a non-superpowered cast member, and turns her into just another mutant. These press propagandists never explain why they believe it's okay to make mockeries out of older creations just to suit a new writer's desperate narrative.
Further, Xavier has created a databank of all mutant minds, and developed a way for various mutants to combine their powers to clone mutant bodies. By combining these techniques, Xavier can, in effect, resurrect any dead mutant with all memories intact up to the point where the databank was last updated.

Death had always been something of a joke to X-fans, because of constant demises and resurrections. Virtually any mutant you can name, from Professor Xavier to Wolverine, has been deceased at some point, and revived. Now death is a joke in-story!
Ah, and is this supposed to imply resurrection is an inherently bad thing? These propagandists have been feeding us that trash for too long, that characters should be killed and remain dead, with no distinctions to be made between what's done in good taste or bad, or an understanding that in science-fiction and fantasy, resurrection's part and parcel of the genre. And why should it just be X-Men where this matters? Death, whether a joke or not, prevails in many comics and entertainment franchises, not just in merely one. But seriously, however it's handled, death to begin with is not a joke. Certainly not if the story where it occurred was awful.
Further, how is it that all of the X-Men are perfectly fine with Xavier inviting all of team’s worst enemies to live on Krakoa — people like Magneto, Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister, who have tried to kill them time and again? And are the more spiritual X-Men — Catholic Nightcrawler, Jewish Kitty Pryde, nature worshipper Storm — OK with Xavier essentially extorting/bribing the world to leave them alone?
While I can probably accept Magneto getting an invitation, due to his once joining the Xavier Institute in the 80s when the New Mutants was in publication, Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister do sound a lot harder to swallow. Especially if any of them committed murder, which makes them no more acceptable company than the Joker. Is Xavier's sudden acceptance because the victims of these villains were...resurrected?
And does nobody remember Genosha? That was the island nation Magneto created in the ’90s, assembling most of the world’s mutants there ... which made them a handy target for a Sentinel attack, which wiped out 16 million of them. Isn’t anyone the least worried about a repeat performance?
That was around the time Grant Morrison was assigned writer for about 3 years, and it was decidedly just another example of the vile, over-the-top stunts the mainstream's been resorting to in order to get rid of whomever and whatever the editors consider worthless. No matter how pretentious Hickman's premise may be, that atrocity from back in 2003 is something I'd rather not see tried again.
On the other hand, Hickman is justly celebrated as a “big concept” writer, which this new arrangement certainly is. Characterization, though, is not his strong suit. It may just be that he shoved these questions under the rug as quickly (and implausibly) as he could so he could get on with telling the rest of his story. Only time will tell.
Interesting Smith's willing to acknowledge Hickman may not be so good at characterization. But then, isn't that why taking away Moira's status as a simple human with no powers is laughable?
Which it will do in the six new X-Men titles to launch from “HoX/PoX.” Now comes “Dawn of X,” as Marvel has dubbed the re-launch, which includes the flagship “X-Men” plus some other titles with familiar names: “Excalibur,” “Fallen Angels,” “Marauders,” “New Mutants” and “X-Force.” All six return with new first issues, the last of which (“Fallen Angels” #1) shipped Nov. 13, along with the second issue of “X-Men.”
See, this has got to be the biggest problem in an era where pamphlets sell so pathetically - too many spinoffs. The Avengers got to that point under Brian Bendis, IIRC. And it doesn't make much difference whether they're self-contained, which they may not be so long as Marvel keeps churning out company wide crossovers, and rebooting with numero uno issues. I also find the following description of X-Force annoying:
“X-Force” has never been a favorite of mine, in any of its many iterations. That’s because it’s usually a sort of black ops book, where various lethal mutants (like Wolverine) sneak around the world murdering threats to mutantdom. That’s not terribly heroic. This book seems to be heading in that direction, and for the first time, I can buy into the premise — as a nation-state, Krakoa has a right to defend itself, up to and including a variation on the CIA, which X-Force is supposed to be. The first issue doesn’t actually establish the premise — it’s early days — but you can see where it’s going, and it will probably star Beast, Black Tom Cassidy, Colossus, Domino, Marvel Girl, Quentin Quire, Sage and Wolverine. If you recognize all those names, you are quite the X-pert — and doubtless have an inkling where the fault lines of this “team” already lie. Frictions exist in any group, but in this one they could be fatal.

Oh, wait — mutants don’t stay dead any more! Or do they? The first issue ends with a shock that may or may not alter the status quo for all six books.
If there's a resurrection of an innocent person in store, at least that itself isn't wrong in a sci-fi world. But what's this about X-Force almost always being a black-ops book? Far as I know, it was only about a decade ago the title applied to a series emphasizing such a premise, at the time the Messiah Complex crossover took place. As for the team allegedly committing murder, it depends: if these were repellent, murderous criminals they took out not unlike what the Punisher's faced, that's hardly the worst thing that could happen. But this reeks of leftism, which can only see a narrow view of how to deal with evil, selectively or otherwise. On that note, what if it turns out Hickman's vision does go by that angle? In that case, the premise of being able to defend the country wouldn't work. There's certainly something fishy how Smith supposedly had a low opinion of the early X-Force iterations (though Rob Liefeld's horrible art is definitely reason enough to avoid the early material), yet in the very present, he embraces it straight off the bat? If this new iteration had been done over 20 years ago, something tells me he'd speak of it as negatively as he does the rest.

And if the cast is being bottled up on an island, that doesn't sound very different from what became an increasing problem in the past 30 years or so - the X-Men being all but depicted as isolated. If that's what this is about, it's not very creative. Again, let's consider Moira's transformation into just another mutant. If there's no "civilian" co-stars, that's a notable problem with some superhero comics for who knows how long.

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