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X-Men: The End – Book Two: Heroes and Martyrs (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.

To describe Chris Claremont’s three six-part miniseries that comprise X-Men: The End as “convoluted” is to miss the point. Of course they are convoluted. Claremont is essentially writing a gigantic epilogue to his work on Uncanny X-Men. He is tidying away decades of continuity and offering a sense of closure to his work on these characters and their world. Claremont is an exceptional storyteller when it comes to long-form serialised storytelling.

As a writer, Claremont tends to layer interesting twists on top of interesting twists, with every resolution opening up more avenues for future stories to explore. He has demonstrated an ability to string along plots for decades, revisiting characters and situations years after most readers had forgotten about them. These are the qualities that make his Uncanny X-Men run so deeply fascinating, but they are also the qualities that make him a bit of an awkward fit for a concept like The End, an epic miniseries built around the idea of wrapping up the entire X-Men mythos.

Some things never go into fashion...

Some things never go into fashion…

However, what is so fascinating about X-Men: The End is that all of the elements that Claremont uses are the same elements that he has been playing with since he took over Uncanny X-Men. The story beats have a familiar pattern to them, the themes are familiar, the characters speak as they did in the years that Claremont wrote them. What is fascinating about X-Men: The End is the way that it serves to really set Claremont’s take on the X-Men in stone, treating the elements associated with Claremont as a truly inexorable part of the comic’s mythology.

X-Men: The End is very much a Chris Claremont comic, through-and-through. That’s what makes it feel like such a perfect fit.

A wing and a prayer...

A wing and a prayer…

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Non-Review Review: Sinister

Sinister is a few great ideas, wrapped in a hokey plot and executed in a reasonably efficient manner. To be fair, this latest movie from “the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious works best when it adopts a minimalist approach, with director Scott Derrickson and composer Christopher Young providing a suitably overbearing and overwhelming atmosphere. However, the movie runs into problems when it’s forced to play its hand, and when it feels the need to “follow through” on its scares with something more substantial. At that point, the movie becomes a bit clunky, which seems quite a shame – as Derrickson otherwise minimalist approach creates an unsettling canvas to set the story against.

Reel life…

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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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