Thursday, November 01, 2007

X-Men: Messiah Complex

So, despite my better instincts, I decided to pick up X-Men: Messiah Complex yesterday, and perhaps embark upon a thirteen issue crossover. What are my reasons? One is I have a bunch of money coming in, and pass a comics store everyday, so it would be pretty easy to follow. The other is that I do have a lot of investment in the characters, and am curious to see what’s going on in their world. While this isn’t the world’s best comic, it’s pretty solid, and is probably going to get me to the second issue of the tale.

This week, I’ve been reading the first hardcover collection of Mike Carey’s X-Men run. While no Claremont or Morrison, it’s a thoroughly entertaining look at the characters, stripping away a lot of the convoluted backstory to tell a fairly straightahead story. The big event driving these characters is M-Day, a really dumb plot twist, but one that makes more sense once it became clear that they would undo M-Day sometime in the near future. The basic deal with M-Day is that after a lengthy alternate reality storyline, the Scarlet Witch rewrote reality to remove most mutants’ powers. Conveniently, most of the X-Men were unaffected, but it has given them a new focus, fighting to protect the mutants that are out there, and searching for a cure for others.

The issue with M-Day for me is that if you change things in an alternate reality, it undermines the reality of the story you’re telling. If something so drastic can be altered, why doesn’t someone just go back and unalter it? Opening that door makes it hard for anything to have consequences. If you really wanted to go this route, why not just have mutants spontaneously start losing their powers, until there’s only a few left. That would raise a lot of key questions within the concept, like, do most of the people want to go back to being mutants, or are they happy to be ‘normal’?

My bigger issue is that the M-Day thing removes most of the story’s real world relevance. Morrison made mutants more like real life minorities, hated at times, but also central to popular culture. He simultaneously addressed human evolution and social evolution in what I’d consider a suitable finale to the series as a whole. Nothing is needed beyond Here Comes Tomorrow, to some extent everything after, from Joss’s run to this, feels like fanfiction.

Still, it’s cool to see a lot of the Morrison stuff still in place. We’ve got Cerebra, cat Beast, Cyclops and Emma together, etc. I love the Cyclops/Emma relationship because Emma has all the power, her cutting cynicism always able to put Scott down. That said, Scott’s outfit is awful looking, like a giant condom. Why couldn’t they just stick with the Morrison jackets? Those were fantastic.

That said, most of the people in Carey’s crew look pretty cool. I really like Rogue’s hooded outfit, and Chris Bachalo makes all the villains look stylish. I didn’t particularly like Bachalo’s work on “Assault on Weapon Plus,” but I’m digging it here. I really miss him when the fill in artists come in. He’s not the best storyteller, but he’s got a fantastic sense of style.

Ultimately, the best thing I can say about Carey’s X-Men is that it feels like it’s moving forward, not just servicing a trademark. I want to see what happens with these characters, and the glimpses of larger goings on, with Exodus and Sinister, are great. I’m a huge Mister Sinister fan, for no apparent reason. I had the action figure when I was younger and I’ve always loved the design of the character. The character is really theatrical and over the top, but he’s a great villain, and looks fantastic in the Simone Bianchi drawn pinup in the back of Messiah Complex.

As for the Messiah Complex issue itself, it’s pretty strong, though clearly just a prelude, not anything in itself. We get the real sense that something’s going down, something important. The art is nice, and our brief glimpse of the Marauders is cool. However, it’s going to take a couple of issues to see what the series is really about.

I’ve been reading a ton of superhero comics lately, primarily because reading one invariably leads to another story and then to another. Seven Soldiers led to Morrison’s JLA, 52, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis and I’m sure more soon. This book is going to lead to lot more, as well as an effort to catch up on some previous X-Men stuff. It’s nice to check in with the characters every once in a while, and at least here they’re competently written. I don’t know if I’ll make it through the whole crossover, but I’ll at least give it a chance.

No comments: