Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Disappointed before the first issue ships

CBR has a feature up teasing Age of X by showing the files of Henry Gyrich in the alternate universe, profiling several of our heroes. What really strikes me are the relations listings, and how many characters which are not being used by the X-office and haven't been used by the X-office for years are also missing and dead in this X-men alternate universe. (And I'm going to mention specifics soon, so consider this your spoiler warning.)

And it takes me back to how when Janet Van Dyne was taken off the board in the 616 universe, the Ultimate version of the Wasp was killed in Ultimatum. How when Wanda went crazy in Disassembled it was closely followed by Wanda getting killed in Ultimates.

It's very weird to me, because an alternate timeline storyline is a great opportunity to play with characters you don't normally get to play with, to have dead people alive and inactive people active, and make villains into good guys and bystanders into heroes. It's a really cool playground, but time and time again Marvel seems to decide that when something happens in the 616 universe it is reverberated across the multiverse! Hell, in "Ghost Box" Beast outright states that this is the case with M-Day, meaning that we aren't going to get to see an alternate timeline where mutants are the majority except for House of M flashbacks.

I know there's writers who get it, and we had a lot of variety in Hickman's Fantastic Four excursions and that Exiles is all over the fucking place, but it seems to me like ongoing things like the Ultimate Universe and large scale events like Age of X are squandering huge opportunities by having the same cast in a different setting. Don't get me wrong, Magneto, Rogue and Cyclops are awesome but we can read them together ALL THE TIME right now. We can't really read Cyclops and Havok at the moment because Havok is lost in space. We can only read Magneto and the twins in a single bimonthly series now, otherwise we haven't seen them since House of M. We can't read Rogue and Destiny now, ever, because they killed her off so damned long ago and she's just not a character who gets resurrected.

And these are things that would be fresh and unusual because we haven't seen them in the regular universe for so long. I still maintain that one of the greatest X-crossovers in history is Age of Apocalypse, partially because the only character who absolutely had to be absent was Xavier. With that rule in place, we got a lot of odd relationship stuff that we simply could never see the way 616 was set up. We had Nightcrawler and Mystique as a bickering mother-and-son team. We had Magneto as a loving husband and father, with a supportive relationship with his son (I am a bit irked they killed off Wanda in this crossover). We had Rogue as a mother and stepmother. We had Quicksilver and Storm in a romance. We had Cyclops and Havok raised together by Sinister. We had one-off death Blink alive and active, which actually led to the creation of the freaking Marvel Multiverse by being so popular she launched a series based on traveling through alternate universes!

It was a dystopian setting, but it was expansive and varied. Age of X so far strikes me as based on the same scarcity mentality that is driving the mutant plotlines in the regular universe. There was a "Decimination" and now the vast majority of mutants are dead rather than depowered, so it's a worse place where all the same characters are active. I like Mike Carey, but... it seems so small.


  1. I remember being quite taken with the thought of the whole alternate Ultimate Universe, and the possibilities that it had. Well...THAT didn't pan out. Which was a shame.

    I finally couldn't take it any more, and stopped reading X-Men and all the assorted X-Books after some thirty odd years, so I don't really even know what's going on lately. Jean's still dead...right?

  2. Yeah, she's dead since Morrison left. Age of X promos show her flying around as the Phoenix, which is one plus. Wonder what the odds are in her being offed during the crossover, though.

  3. I thought it was sad that Wanda died in Age of Apocalypse, but at least you saw how she died, when it happened, and that she died heroically. It's a damn sight better than "Hey, remember when Wanda died? That was sad. Welp, back to ignoring her absence!"