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Ed Brubaker’s X-Men – Deadly Genesis (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

In 2006, Ed Brubaker was one of the hottest younger writers working at Marvel Comics. He was writing a celebrated run on Captain America. He was about to take over Daredevil following a monumental run by Brian Michael Bendis. He was also going to launch The Immortal Iron Fist with collaborator Matt Fraction. It was a year that cemented Ed Brubaker as one of the primary voices writing at Marvel Comics. In the midst of all that, Brubaker also took over the X-Men franchise.

In the early years of the decade, Marvel had tasked Brian Michael Bendis to reinvent the Avengers franchise, which he had done with Avengers Disassembled and an extended stint on New Avengers. Bendis had done this by tearing down a lot of the elements of The Avengers taken for granted and demonstrating that nothing was safe. The Avengers Mansion was destroyed, Hawkeye and Vision were killed, Wolverine and Spider-Man were recruited. The approach was iconoclastic, but it worked.

Sentinels of liberty...

Sentinels of liberty…

It’s not too hard to see Ed Brubaker’s stint on the X-Men franchise as a not-entirely-successful attempt to emulated Bendis’ reinvention of The Avengers. There was a clear attempt to focus on aspects of the mythology that were outside the comfort zone, and to attack and undermine some of the most sacred areas of the mythology. After all, Brubaker began his run on Uncanny X-Men with The Rise and Fall of the Shiar Empire, a twelve-issue space opera that took the focus of the book off the wake of House of M.

Logically, then, Deadly Genesis serves as the equivalent of Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled. It’s the story that exists as the lead-in to Brubaker’s run, outside the monthly series. It sets the agenda for a lot of what is to follow, shifting the premise and changing the rules. However, Brubaker’s work suffers because he doesn’t have the same freedom that Bendis had with New Avengers. He can’t just clear the board and start anew. Deadly Genesis find him heaping a bold new status quo on top of a bold new status quo.

Burning it all down...

Burning it all down…

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Ed Brubaker’s Run on Uncanny X-Men – The Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire (Review/Retrospective)

I’m currently wading my way through Marvel’s somewhat complicated continuity, with a major focus on The Avengers, what with the film due out in 2012 and all that. Anyway, this isn’t really a “big” crossover in its own right, but it factors into a big event I’ll be looking at later on today. Consider this an appendix.

Ed Brubaker’s run on Uncanny X-Men isn’t as widely praised as his work on Daredevil or Captain America – in fact, while Marvel couldn’t wait to churn out omnibus releases of his work on those two titles, his Uncanny X-Men run, like Matt Fraction’s run which followed, has been haphazardly collected. Part of me suspects that this might be down to factors outside Brubaker’s control – Joss Whedon was monopolising the most popular X-Men for Astonishing X-Men when Brubaker kicked off his run – but part of it comes down to the simple fact that Brubaker simply isn’t a great writer of team books. That said, writing a year-long space epic featuring none of the more iconic characters as his introductory arc probably didn’t help much.

Brotherly love…

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