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X-Men: Operation Zero Tolerance (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine this month, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men and Wolverine comics. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

Operation Zero Tolerance is very much an artefact of the nineties. It’s a big bombastic X-Men romp, one that manages to hit on a lot of the key themes and ideas of the franchise (making them resonate with the public mood), while still seeming loud and simply and incredibly hollow. After all, it’s a comic about the prejudice facing a minority in the nineties, with repeated references to the Holocaust. “Zero tolerance?” Senator Robert Kelly asks towards the end of the event. “Isn’t that what the Nazis had for the Jews in the last World War?” The villain, Bastion, is presented as a “wannabe Hitler.”

Operation Zero Tolerance is, in a word, blunt. With so many of the high-profile comics of the nineties, from both Marvel and DC, “subtlety” is an alien concept. This is an X-Men comic where racial intolerance and prejudice are expressed through nothing short of attempted genocide. On the one hand, it’s very clearly the mutant prejudice idea pushed to its logical extreme. On the other hand, the notion of the United States government even passively condoning an attempted genocide feels like it robs the franchise of the social relevance which had made it so compelling and intriguing.

Still, the event’s impact is quite obvious. It’s hard not to see Operation Zero Tolerance as the driving influence on the entire X-Men franchise from House of M through to Second Coming.

Chances of survival are Slim...

Chances of survival are Slim…

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X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse Omnibus (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

The nineties represent a contentious time for fans of the X-Men franchise. The decade saw comic books explode into a huge market, with ridiculous sales and publicity, and the entire X-Men franchise rode that wave perfectly. Chris Claremont and Jim Lee’s adjectiveless X-Men #1 remains the biggest-selling comic book of all time, after all, and the franchise quickly secured itself as Marvel’s premiere comic book franchise. On the other hand, the line had been thrown into disarray by the departure of long-term steward Chris Claremont and its era-defining artist Jim Lee. The family of titles had struggled to find a footing through some uneven crossovers and events like X-Cutioner’s Song and Fatal Attractions. However, I think the decade produced one gem that can be considered as a true classic, along with the best of Claremont’s tenure and the work of Grant Morrison. The Age of Apocalypse might seem an odd choice to identify as one of the highlights of the X-Men saga, but I think it deserves very serious consideration.

Apocalypse now…

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