I’ve read about twelve issues at the time of writing this review and it’s become clear that Excalibur exists merely as a prelude to X Of Swords.
Basically, in X Of Swords, the big crossover X-Men events, Apocalypse creates and interdimensional gate. This book just explains how that came to be. The stories aren’t great and don’t feel as if they have any urgency or point to them. The art is fine. It’s just a pointless book where the biggest draw to me is seeing the romance between Rogue and Gambit. Even that wasn’t that great.
This was a very generic superhero team up story that played out exactly how superhero team up stories always play out. Two groups of good guys have a misunderstanding and fight each other, then a bigger bad guy shows up and they have to team up against them. It’s a mundane story only buttressed by the last few panel in the final issue.
Franklin Richards is the son of Reed Richards and Susan Storm and a member of the Fantastic Four. All mutants have united and created a nation where all mutants are welcome. Franklin decides he wants to visit Krakoa and his parents are against it because it seems like a big mutant cult… which it kind of is. Doctor Doom somehow gets involved and they have to team up to fight him. Also worth mentioning is that Franklin is known as one of the most powerful beings in the universe, so everyone benefits from getting him on their side.
The whole conflict feels about as stupid as Civil War or any other superhero team up story. I don’t know why writers feel the need to do this, but they always come up with some dumb idea for disagreement. This is probably because you eventually want the two sides to team up, so you can never have the conflict be too heinous because your publisher will want to return everyone to the former status quo eventually. You can’t have long lasting bad blood.
In any case, their disagreement is dumb. Doom’s involvement makes sense, but is also kind of dumb.
The only panels that had any impact on me were the last few panels between Reed and Professor X. It gave me Illuminati vibes and showed how the X-Men are a bit more ruthless now than they have been.
Overall, this is a skippable story meant to show how the X-Men and the Fantastic Four get along in this new X-Men paradigm. It doesn’t do a great job of that.
Despite Empyre being a big disappointment, this Empyre: X-Men spinoff miniseries was a lot of fun. It even has a bit of emotion to it.
As per the Empyre miniseries, an alien race called the Cotati are invading the Earth and one of them decides to land on the former mutant nation of Genosha. Unbeknownst to the Cotati, Wanda Maximoff has temporarily turned the millions of mutant corpses on the island into zombies for about thirty days. Hijinks now ensue as the Cotati and the X-Men battle each other while battling millions of superpowered zombies.
My main enjoyment with this book is the comedy. There are lots of funny moments between the X-Men has they deal with this threat. Despite the Cotati being a potentially world ending threat, the X-Men don’t really take it seriously. I mean they do, but they mess around a lot too. Throw in some evil, elderly botanists that were introduced in Hickman’s X-Men series, and you get even more jokes thrown in.
What surprised me though was one specific scene involving the zombie of a mutant and the actual mutant the zombie was based off of. If you’re unfamiliar with the current state of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, all mutants are basically immortal… but not really. Whenever a mutant dies, a clone of that mutant is created with all their powers and their memories. So in a sense, all mutants are immortal.
Anyways, a mutant named Explodey Boy who has the power of blowing himself up meets with the zombified corpse of himself on Genosha. They have a very moving conversation among themselves. It’s very science fiction-y in that it’s like your future self talking to your younger self, except that it’s your future self talking to your younger, currently dead self and talking about how life has turned out all right for them. It was very strangely moving and elevated the whole story.
Overall, this was a fun read and had just the right amount of emotion added onto the end of it. If you haven’t read Empyre and have a grasp of X-Men comic book lore, you might feel a bit lost though.
About twelve issues have been published in this series and I think that’s about enough to form an opinion. While most of the moments in this series have been all right, I find myself mostly disappointed. I think that’s because I wanted a more focused story which has point. That is not what this series is.
After House of X and Powers of X, Hickman has created a brave new world for the X-Men. This series touches upon larger plot points, but for the most part, this book and all the books spawned from House of X and Powers of X are meant to show a different slice of life in this new status quo.
This X-Men book, more than any other, visits so many various characters. There is no real main thrust to it. It’s all stand alone stories. And some of these stories are good. I just wish there was a main plot to it or a common enemy.
However, I think that’s the point of this book. It’s the core book for the entire X-Men comic book franchise and the books in this franchise are meant to tell their own smaller stories. When a big story needs to be told, they’ll tell it in a miniseries like X Of Swords.
The art is fine. If you’ve seen Lenil Yu’s work before, you’ll know that it’s a lot of the same poses and facial expressions.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but there’s no main point or conflict to it. Reading this book is kind of like going to the zoo. You get to look at lots of animals, but those animals are segregated from one another with no real cohesion. The stories in X-Men are all separate stories that only relate to each other because they involve different members of the X-Men.
Powers of X just published its sixth and last issue, thus ending the twelve issue miniseries that was House of X and Powers of X. Marvel recently got the movie rights to X-Men back, which means that they can freely write good X-Men stories again without worrying about promoting a movie franchise they don’t own. As a result, Jonathan Hickman (wrote Avengers, Fantastic Four, Secret Wars) was enlisted to relaunch the X-Men franchise and tell some new stories. The resulting X-Men stories are some of the most revolutionary in the history of the X-Men franchise. House of X and Powers of X add massive changes and new ideas to the franchise while reminding us of the classic themes of what the X-Men have always been about. When you read these two miniseries, you get the sense that they were written by a longtime X-Men fan with a wide ranging knowledge of the details of the franchise, and who also wants to make a statement about what the X-Men are really about.