Sunday, April 30, 2006

X-Men Survey

Gacked from the X-Universe message board at G's Giant State of the X-Books Survey.

Section 1: Decimation

1) Was the Decimation of mutantkind a good idea, or bad?

Fundamentally bad, for two reasons. First, anyone with half a brain knew the A-listers were safe, which means the majority of characters affected by the Decimation weren't part of any ongoing series at the time anyway (see: Chamber, Jubilee, Blob). All it really achieved was a drastic reduction in potential recurring characters - you know, the ones we like to see when we're sick and tired of the regular cast. Second, the impetus behind the storyline, at least according to Quesada and Bendis, was to return the X-Men's status quo to the Stan Lee era. This amazes me, given that "X-Men" was nearly cancelled back then due to low sales. In any case, it's one of the biggest steps backwards Marvel has taken in recent years.

2) Was the method by which the Decimation happened a good idea?

"No More Mutants"? Hell no. It was random, arbitrary, and made no sense even in the context of the scene (Wanda's mad at Magneto for not raising them properly because he was devoted to the mutant war... except he didn't even know they existed until they were adults). The whole thing is made worse by the fact that "Astonishing X-Men" had an entire opening arc dedicated to the idea of a mutant cure, one that made a lot more sense than Wanda twitching her nose.

3) Which character-losing-their-powers most annoyed you?

Beak. His entire character arc was founded on building self-esteem despite his looks. He found happiness in part because of his appearance, and then he gets turned into a perfectly normal-looking human, and that's supposed to be his "happy ending". Barf.

4) Which character-losing-their-powers makes you happy?

I can't think of a single depowering that I felt worked well within the greater context of the story.

5) Which character-not-losing-their-powers most annoyed you?

Given my views on the whole event, it's probably no surprise that I didn't begrudge any series that kept to its own path.

6) Which character-not-losing-their-powers makes you happy?

See above.

7) The 198 camp? Good idea? Bad idea?

I can see what they're trying to do, with the whole Guantanamo Bay metaphor, but it's never been explained why the government feels having two hundred mutants in the same area is a bright idea - they may be easier to watch, but you'd think the massive concentration of power would be more of a concern.

8) Sentinel Squad ONE? Good idea? Bad idea?

Hilariously bad. A prequel series to showcase the giant interchangable robot guards and their faceless pilots? You've got to be kidding me.


Section 2: UXM & Deadly Genesis

1) The slaughter of the Grey family? Good or bad?

Waste of time. Even if Rachel was supposed to be horrifically traumatized by the slaughter, it's hard to see why readers would care given that the whole clan had less personality combined than your average Star Trek Red Shirt. It was just amateur heartstring-yanking.

2) The 24-second-issue? How did/didn't you like the concept and the execution?

Loved the concept, not so much the execution because Claremont clearly didn't consider whether each action he depicted could conceivably take place within the space of a second.

3) How do/don't you like the Shi'Ar Death Commando Squad?

Hah! More one-dimensional gimmick villains from the Claremont stable. At least it's not pirates again.

4) Are you the one who thinks tattooing a winged man-part on Rachel's back was a good idea?

You mean it's not a portrait of Pyramidhead from "Silent Hill"? Damn Bachalo, you can never tell with him. ;)

5) The explanation for Psylocke's return working for you, or not?

Not really. It basically amounts to the same ego-stroking he used with Magneto - "She's back because I (Claremont) want her back".

6) Should they have used this to return her to her original appearance?

I don't place much importance on characters' appearances when it's not directly related to their development - it's pathetically superficial and smacks of fanservice. Has Psylocke's ethnicity been a story point at all in the last ten years? Does it really change the story if Beast is feline rather than simian?

7) Do or don't you like them retro-fitting a "lost" team of X-Men into the team's history in Deadly Genesis?

On the level of principle, I really shouldn't like it... but I do. Brubaker sold me on the retcon, he made it plausible enough for me to buy it. And it does masterfully exploit a gap in the original Krakoa story: just how much time passed between the original group getting caught and Xavier picking up Nightcrawler?

8) The death of Banshee. Good? Bad?

Largely irrelevant - which, I suppose, was the point. When was the last time he'd been seen on-panel or even mentioned anyway?

9) Is Vulcan your choice of villain for the new generation, or not? And how/do don't you like him being a Summers brother?

He's a bit problematic. On the one hand, the character has a lot of potential - with a bit more fleshing-out, he could very well be the new Magneto. But for that to happen, Brubaker needs to expand his motivation beyond "vengeance for past sins", because that only goes so far. As for him being a Summers... well, I've always hated that loose thread, and it's plainly obvious that they only threw it in so the hardcore geeks would shut the hell up about it already. However, it's been a very smooth retcon, one that's both plausible and credible, so on creative grounds I can't find fault with it. At the very least, it ties the villain to the leader of the X-Men much in the way Magneto and Xavier were bound when they were running things.

10) Are you looking forward to Brubaker's UXM run, or not?

I am indeed. If he does half as well with it as he has with "Daredevil" and "Captain America", I suspect we're all in for a treat.


Section 3: X-Men & Apocalypse

1) Havok killed Doop. Discuss.

Doop died at the end of "X-Statix".

2) Apocalypse's new purpose, to lead mutantkind. Good or bad?

And this is different from his past motivation... how? I mean, he was always going to set himself up as the ruler of "the fit".

3) How do/don't you like the new Horsemen?

Meh. It's been done too many times to take them seriously anymore.

4) What should become of Gambit?

I honestly can't say, I haven't read any book featuring him in years and years.

5) Are you looking forward to Carey's run on X-Men?

Absolutely. I realize Carey tends to be a touch inconsistent, and he'll probably come in last after Whedon and Brubaker, but he seems to have some interesting ideas, and at the very least he isn't as paralyzed by the genre requirements as Milligan was.

6) Sabretooth and Mystique as X-Men? Good or bad?

Depends on how it's set up. It's easier for me to see Mystique as an X-Man, especially considering the events of her solo series a few years ago. Sabretooth... well, Carey's already said he's not doing a redemption story here, the animal isn't getting tamed, so presumably we're not supposed to feel comfortable with the idea.

7) Apocalypse vs Dracula. You either want to read this comic or you don't. Did you want to read it?

Not really, no. I'm not a fan of Frank Tieri.

8) Should we get an "Apocalypse vs..." miniseries each year, in which The Big A beats the poop out of a different important historical figure, real or fictional?

Sure, I can see it now: "Apocalypse vs. Abraham Lincoln: My Hat Is Bigger". "Apocalypse vs. Cher: Battle of the Immortals". "Apocalypse vs. Lara Croft: America's Breast and Brightest (art by Rob Liefeld)".

9) Name 3 such historical figures you'd like to see Apocalypse thrash. Points will be awarded for the best combination of hilarity and offensiveness.

See above. Did I win? :)


Section 3: Astonishing X-Men

1) Should Beast stay in his current form, or take the mutant-cure?

I tend to agree with Wolverine on this. I can't believe I tend to agree with Wolverine on this. But yes, Beast should stay as he is - if he takes the cure, he's admitting that he sees mutation as something that should be fixed. And he's been with the X-Men from the beginning.

2) Bringing back Colossus? Good or bad idea, good or bad explanation?

I'm going to go with good idea, good explanation. Good idea because everyone was expecting Jean, and because the only reason he was killed off in the first place was because no one knew what to do with him, and a scapegoat was needed to wrap up the Legacy Virus story. Good explanation because it's very, very simple - we comic readers have grown a bit too accustomed to the byzantine, complex and convoluted retcons, and I think that's why the ease with which Whedon brought Colossus back threw a lot of readers. Your first reflex is to look for something more, because it can't be that mundane... and then you have to ask, well, why not?

3) The living Danger Room? Good or bad idea?

Good story idea, bad X-Men story idea. I think Whedon also realized this after the fact: "Danger" ultimately didn't work because it wasn't about the X-Men at all. It raised some interesting questions about sentience and technology, but I don't know if those questions belong in that specific comic.

4) Did Xavier's dirty secret work for you?

Oh, definitely. I don't understand this saintly view of Xavier some readers hold: he's been doing questionable things since the late '60s. He faked his death and put his students through hell just to test them, he kept files on how to neutralize every X-Man he'd ever taught, there was that whole Onslaught deal... I do think Xavier is basically a good person, but he has always had a tendency to justify any action of his, right or wrong, by saying it's all for the children. And maybe he's right; how far would the X-Men have gotten without a place to hone their powers?

5) Where should they go with the current Frost plot? Good, evil, or just nuts?

This is the thing about Emma: Whedon isn't writing her any differently than Morrison - or, to a certain extent, Lobdell and Claremont before him. Emma Frost never cared about good or evil; she sides with whoever has the power, whoever she thinks will win. So the Hellfire Club falls to pieces and she switches sides to Generation X, and then they move on and she goes to Genosha, and then she had nowhere left to go but the X-Men, the largest mutant power base left. And now she's aligned with a very formidable group operating right under the noses of a very confused and scattered X-Men team. It's classic Emma. The twist, of course, is that she's in love this time, so indulging her lust for power will cost her big-time if she goes all the way.

6) The revelation about Scott's powers? Does that work for you?

Still waiting to see where that goes, but I like the idea that it was psychological after all, that he was so hysterically afraid of hurting someone that the possibility of control never even entered his mind.

7) The Cyclops/Frost pairing? Good? Bad? Should it last beyond the current arc?

I wasn't a fan of the couple at first, back when Morrison had just started working it in. Looking back, though, I find it's really grown on me, perhaps even moreso than Scott/Jean. I think Greg Pak put it best in "Endsong": Emma isn't anything like Jean, which is exactly why it works. It's new, it's different, and at the same time it's consistent with Cyclops' history of infidelity. Definitely a relationship that should last as long as it possibly can.

8) A Colossus/Shadowcat reunion? Good idea? Bad idea? Pointless nostalgia?

Excellent idea. I mean, yes, obviously nostalgia is a factor - for all intents and purposes, Colossus and Kitty were the "it" couple of the early '80s, age difference be damned. But it's more than that; it's that feeling of (to quote Utada Hikaru) "you were always gonna be the one" - it's nice to think that after the alien healers and the obnoxious British author-projections, these two were always going to find each other again, to be together. Not on the cosmic, Shakespearean level of Cyclops and Phoenix, but in a more grounded sense. And that kiss in #13 was the sweetest thing ever.


Section 4: Wolverine, Cable&Deadpool

1) If Logan just had to be on one team book, which should it be?

"Astonishing X-Men". Because Whedon gets it: Wolverine works best in short, controlled bursts, with an option for humor.

2) Which costume (if any) for Wolverine?

I suppose the brown-and-tan look was a bit less... flamboyant than the yellow spandex.

3) A second ongoing Wolverine series? Good or bad idea?

Absolutely horrible idea, especially with Daniel Way writing it. I predict cancellation around issue 12... possibly 18 if they do crossovers.

4) Now that Logan has all his memories back, which area of his past do you most want to see explored?

Not interested at all. It's been done, and done, and done.

5) Should Cable get his powers back, or keeping using artificial substitutes?

Cable's powers are tricky; he needs to stand out from the rest of the Marvel psychics, but most writers tend to overshoot the mark and elevate him to godlike level, and that boxes him in creatively. It's a repeat of the Nate Grey thing, come to think of it.

6) Do you support Cable's goals, or not? Does the real world need it's own Cable?

Well, who am I to judge? If he wants Wade to rub him down with WD-40, that's his right. Oh, wait, that's Deadpool's goal. Never mind. :)

7) Who should guest-star in Cable & Deadpool specifically so that Wade can ridicule them?

Brian Michael Bendis. I would give my left breast for that!


Section 5: Other X-Books

1) Are you for or against NXM: Academy-X turning into a mutant bloodbath?

For it. Of course, bear in mind that I hadn't been reading "Academy X" prior to this, so I don't have any particular attachment to the characters. I've always been partial to starting a new run with some kind of deck-clearing cataclysm, and "Academy X" could certainly stand to lose some of its enormous cast.

2) More or less X-23 needed in your comics?

Eh, so far so good. Kyle and Yost did a surprisingly good job with her origin miniseries, and she's hardly as overbearing and prolific as her "brother".

3) New Excalibur: Good lineup, or random collection of characters?

Random characters, random storylines, random premise. If there's a point to this book beyond "set in England starring characters nobody else wanted", I'd love to hear it.

4) In Exiles, have they succeeded in their goal of giving Proteus the Worst Scottish Accent Ever?

Yep. But that's intentional, so... does that earn them points?

5) Should the Exiles lineup have more, or less turnover and/or casualties?

"Exiles" is unique in that it's possibly the only X-book that has a built-in reason for a high turnover rate, and can afford to do so. The flip-side is that if you get rid of too many, too quickly, without really fleshing them out, it's simply impossible to care. Characterization is very important, and while I'm still enjoying "Exiles", I admit that Bedard hasn't done a great job of endearing the newbies to the readers, or let us mourn the dead.

6) Are you for or against the Storm/Black Panther wedding?

Against. Against, against, against. I can't stress how much it infuriates me that one of the most prominent female characters in comics gets turned into a trophy wife just because Reginald Hudlin's "Hollywood cred" isn't enough to sell "Black Panther" anymore.

7) How does new-X-Factor rate up against the old series for you?

Didn't like the old one, lost interest in the new one.

8) Should any of the dead guys and girls in the Dead Girl miniseries come back?

Please, we have enough dead men walking as it is. :)


Section 6: Civil War

1) Are you excited by the prospect of Wolverine vs Nitro?

2) Which X-Men, if any, do you think should be pro-registration?

3) Should the registration act be passed?

4) Should there be a villain behind it all, or not?

Not answering any of these questions because I'm ignoring "Civil War".