Comics

X-Tremely Astonishing X-Men: Seriously, Marvel? Seriously?

At WonderCon earlier this month, Marvel made several announcements regarding comics, including more details on three new? old? titles that were going to be part of their monthly solicitations. The cover to one title, in particular, showcased characters that were oddly familiar – a ragtag bunch of mutants: Wolverine sporting a horseshoe moustache, a young Nightcrawler and a hipster Emma Frost.

That’s right, they’re characters fresh off writer Greg Pak’s recently concluded arc on Astonishing X-Men.

Their mission, to protect the multi-verse – hopping from one alternate reality to another. I’d call it Quantum Leap if Marvel didn’t already have a well-established title for essentially the same premise – Exiles.

So of course, with that kind of heritage, Marvel decides to name this new book … *drumroll please* … X-Treme X-Men.

Because clearly creativity and common sense have lost their value in the X-Office. Join me in a rant I like to call “Seriously, Marvel? Seriously?”

Don’t get me wrong for a second. I loved the premise of Greg Pak’s story arc “Exalted” in Astonishing X-Men #44-#47 and am very happy to see it continue. It was exactly the right kind of storyline that made sense post-Schism – one that took Cyclops out of his moral struggle of running a mutant militia and just threw him into the hero-saviour role he was always meant to fulfill. The art by Mike McKone was reminiscent of his Exiles work in the first few storylines of the beloved series and further augmented the alternate universe setting of the Exalted story.

What I have a problem with, is the apparent disconnect in Marvel’s X-Office. They just got it wrong on so many levels!

1) Not giving Marjorie Liu a new title to work with

Say you want to write a X-title that was in continuity, starring a fresh team. Wouldn’t you’d much prefer to start afresh with an #1?

Even if you called it Mysterious X-Men, Wonderful X-Men, Fabulous X-Men, <insert superlative adjective here> X-Men, I honestly wouldn’t blink an eye. Heck, even if you wanted to utilise a previous title so as to maintain the trademark, why not use one that WASN’T IN USE? Take New X-Men, which hasn’t been touched since 2010, or hey, here’s an idea, X-Treme X-Men, which hasn’t been in use since 2004!

But NOOOOOOoooo, Marvel gets Marjorie Liu to take over the reins of Astonishing X-Men, an existing title that has, since its conception, been revolving around Cyclops’ team with stories that are mostly out of continuity with the rest of the Marvel Universe. In contrast, she’s going to write a team led by Wolverine (with no Cyke in sight) with stories that will very much be IN continuity.

Seriously, Marvel? Seriously?

2) Not giving Greg Pak more than a single arc on Astonishing.

Say you have a brilliant idea that would fit right into the general theme of a comic book title. You’re given one arc to sell your story. The first issue comes out and it’s got controversy right from the get go – something big, like oh maybe, CYCLOPS AND STORM K.I.S.S.I.N.G. So you pimp it out like a madman and wait for the buzz to build. You alienate some readers upon revealing it is an alternate universe story (like, duh, what else could it be, right), but by and large, the response is positive.

Then almost three weeks later, even before your next issue is released, your publisher announces that a new writer will be taking over your title, and it will be a more permanent run.

Wait, what? Apparently the sales of Astonishing did well enough to warrant an ongoing, so here’s a novel idea, Marvel, give Greg Pak a more permanent run on the title! Clearly the writer was building up to something big. Clearly he wanted to get the word out that he was trying to capture lightning in a bottle again. Clearly, all his efforts were ignored by his publisher.

Seriously, Marvel? Seriously?

3) Giving Greg Pak an ongoing, but NOT naming it Exiles

Say your story arc did really well, and you’ve been given the opportunity to turn it into an ongoing.Thing is, though several of your characters are entirely new, your concept isn’t. Surely, you would want to tap on the huge fanbase of the previous concept, say by naming your ongoing after that one? But wait, you say, your team operates differently, it wouldn’t fit the title. Well, reality check, your new title is hardly without sentimental baggage either.

The truth is, there are fans who remember the last run on X-Treme X-Men, despite it being almost a decade since it ended, so it really boggles the mind why Marvel would not use the Exiles name for Greg Pak’s new ongoing. This is especially so when you realise that despite the difference in characters, Pak is essentially channeling the Exiles – especially with the team led by a strong-willed mainstream-established female mutant (i.e. Blink in Exiles, Dazzler in Pak’s X-Treme X-Men). Some fans are adamant that it is basically another example of Marvel moving away from titles that do not bear the names “Avengers” or “X-Men“.

Seriously, Marvel? Seriously?

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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