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X-Men: The End – Book One: Dreamers & Demons (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.

Marvel went through a phase of publishing books based around “The End” of various iconic properties. These comics allowed creators to imagine telling the last possible story for a given character or corner of the Marvel universe. Creators like Garth Ennis or Peter David got to write stand-alone one-shot stories for The Punisher and The Incredible Hulk, respectively. Paul Jenkins wrote a six-issue miniseries Wolverine: The End, while Jim Starlin closed off the entire Marvel Universe with Marvel Universe: The End.

However, given the sprawling and expansive continuity of the X-Men franchise, it stands to reason that any attempt to tell the final X-Men story would have to be a rather epic tale. Writer Chris Claremont wrote Uncanny X-Men for well over a decade, so even asking him to close off his own threads and plot points would take up considerable space. However, X-Men: The End is an absolutely sprawling comic book saga that is spread across three miniseries and eighteen issues.

Blackbird down...

Blackbird down…

In a way, it feels like a touching coda for Claremont’s version of The X-Men. The writer defined the X-Men franchise, introducing many of the plot and character elements that readers would come to take for granted when reading an X-Men story. The End isn’t Claremont’s last X-Men story by any stretch – the writer still works on the franchise quite frequently in a variety of different roles, enjoying short runs and long runs.

However, The End does seem to serve as an epic farewell tour of the world that Claremont helped to build and define. As such, it’s fitting that the miniseries is somewhat clunky and awkward and epic and sprawling and melodramatic and overblown and absurd and unexpected. It is a capstone to Claremont’s gigantic X-Men epic, a closing statement and thoughtful summation to decades of work.

"X" marks the spot...

“X” marks the spot…

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X-Men: Inferno (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.

I don’t like Inferno. There, I said it. There have been dry patches in Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run before, and some would argue that his work following Inferno would be quite esoteric, but Inferno has always represented, to me at least, the creative low-point of Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men run. That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it for what it is, or acknowledge the care with which the writer crafted it, but it is just too much of a big random mess to really enjoy it. It’s a disjointed crossover that resolves the long-running Madelyne Pryor mystery that Claremont had been weaving through the book, but also features demons and goblins for some reason. It’s just a great big mess.

There’s a Storm comin’…

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Fall of the Mutants: Uncanny X-Men (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.

Part of me does feel a little bit sorry for Chris Claremont. After all, his Uncanny X-Men run was trapped in a perpetual second act. He hadn’t introduced the franchise, inheriting it from a bunch of other writers and artists, and he couldn’t resolve it either. So, as a writer, Claremont was charged with keeping readers interested in an on-going narrative that spanned well over a decade. Occasionally, the writer would try to keep things fresh, and Fall of the Mutants represents just such an attempt. Trying to transition his team from one status quo to another, you have to give the writer credit for pitting the team against an enemy who is (effectively) God, even if it does make this chapter in his on-going saga the equivalent of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

United we fall…

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