Friday, April 16, 2010

"Weird Undead Fabian Nicieza Thing": The State of the X-Men, circa 2010

At The Savage Critics, Graeme McMillan makes some astute observations about the current state of Marvel's X-Men comics, which have managed to be utterly bland and backwards in the last five years or so, despite the presence of otherwise reliable creators like Ed Brubaker, Mike Carey and Matt Fraction.

"It’s as if Grant Morrison never happened," McMillan says at one point, and I agree. The reason why the X-Men—maybe for the first time in a decade—really worked back when Morrison was writing New X-Men from 2001 through 2003, I think, was because he didn't coordinate every step of the way with five other guys.

When Morrison left, Joss Whedon (and now Warren Ellis) got to do something similar with Astonishing X-Men, but that was quickly shoved off to the side, rather than being the kind of flagship they'd had in New X-Men.

So what's needed, essentially, is for Marvel to pick a strong creative team capable of producing one strong "show runner" type of X-Men book that sets the agenda for the line, with everybody else following their lead. Stop the crossovers. Stop trying for lockstep continuity.

All of that is putting everybody but the hardcore continuity nerds to sleep. It's putting me to sleep, and I used to be a hardcore continuity nerd not all that long ago, with the credentials to match. I haven't even looked at an X-Men book in ages, because they've all seemed so bland and exchangeable for the last six years. I'd love to have a single, strong X-Men title every month.

I also have to agree on McMillan's take regarding the replacement of the X-Men's Claremont-type voice with a Nicieza-type voice. Basically, I think Fabian Nicieza is the better Chris Claremont now, in that respect: His X-Men comics have a very similar voice, only without some of Claremont's more annoying tics.

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