Okay, so that title may be a bit over dramatic but I have many jumbled thoughts about this and some legit complaints.
[Some major X-Men comic spoilers from the last couple of years]
I’m a huge comics fan, but man is it hard to keep up. In the recent couple of years I’ve been reading more independent stuff as well as going back through older series, but now I want to catch up on some bigger stories that have affected the worlds I used to love. I’m more partial to Marvel and decided to start with the big events that I didn’t know much about, being incredibly disappointed by Secret Wars (2015) and enjoying Civil War II for the most part, but then I picked up a new hardcover I thought was sure to be an easy win since it featured one of my favorite teams in comics, the X-Men. Inhumans Vs. X-Men was not what I expected though; I was wrong, but I want to talk about why.
So the lead-up to this series is a short run called Death of X which kills off former group leader Cyclops, an important part of what motivates certain characters in the event we are discussing, as he dies from something called M-Pox, which is a disease mutants get from being exposed to the terrigen cloud. Beast and Iso attempt to find a way to prevent the cloud from harming those with the X-gene without destroying the cloud, but they’re unsuccessful. Beast tells the X-Men the bad news first, that they will all soon be dead, but they take him prisoner, concerned he will warn the Inhumans, and this begins the war. The X-Men destroyed the first cloud, and they believe their only chance of survival is to leave Earth or destroy the other one, but the Inhumans need these mists to make more of their kind. I know that is a lot to take in, but that is the gist of it to understand the proposed conflict.
It is incredibly interesting to see which side fans think was right and where the major mistakes were made. The Inhumans were responsible for the cloud, due to Black Bolt setting off the terrigen bomb, and they had the best chance to take care of it, but didn’t. However, the X-Men chose not to come to them when the news of how bad things really were was discovered, and opted to use the element of surprise to try and take down the Inhumans so they can destroy the other cloud. A lot of what the X-Men do seems out of character, non hero-like, and many character moments feel out of place. This ends with Medusa using a device to destroy the cloud anyway after some needless and unsatisfying fighting. The plot had a good base, but its execution made both sides look bad.
Emma is a tad bit crazy due to the death of Scott Summers, which becomes a big point of contention when people find out how he really died, from the M-Pox, and not at Black Bolt’s hands. Her going nuts with the sentinels at the end took a nice slower descent into madness and turned it into an out-of-nowhere by the numbers bad guy turn. Many of the mutants in this should be scarred by what they did, especially those like Forge and Havok, who should be carrying a lot of baggage after this event. The Inhumans on the other hand go from looking oblivious to benevolent in every other issue, while they get more personal story arcs for their characters and a lot of emotional resolve between their various factions. This all cost Medusa, leader of the Inhumans, her queendom after dumping Johnny Storm. This is a mess of an abrupt ending with sentinels coming out of nowhere; lazy writing about Emma using her powers to make Forge build them and using Havok as a half-assed escape plan. It almost gave me a headache.
The X-gene may have been culled drastically by “no more mutants,” but only now does it truly feel doomed to extinction. This is mostly because of the writing and some directives from the company. I understand the need for change and wanting what’s best for the story, but this takes a great set of ideas and fails to connect it coherently while tanking the characters and what has been built for the X-Men in the process. The X-Men kill, but only with purpose and when they have to; they fight for survival, but not at the cost of innocent life. Character preservation isn’t the most important thing, but it needs to be remembered. There was a lot of controversy over this recently in Secret Empire with Captain America, but at least that had a more obvious narrative tool and here they tried to base it off character psychology—screwing that up.
I shouldn’t be surprised. I don’t want to get into Marvel shitting on the X-Men because Fox owns the rights in other media, but after they were left completely out of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, even after the success of Deadpool and Logan, It is hard to ignore. When the reason the developer gave was that ‘younger fans don’t remember the X-Men” though? Come on! I know the company wants to push the Inhumans more since they need a stand-in for their movies, make them the new mutants, even if their television show is off to a horrible start.
The best part of this thing was seeing how the X-Men incapacitated each member of the royal family, while showing off some cool characters amongst the younger Inhumans. I actually want to know a little more about their society now. I wonder if the smaller issues not involved in these events helped to explain some of the odd character moments or gave more reasoning. I doubt it, as this seemed to be a big turn, setting up new directions for both groups, with the X-Men breaking off into the Blue and Gold teams again. This little rant isn’t as much fan outrage but apathy and disappointment from someone who wants to see their favored heroes handled better. Apparently they realized that though, as Kitty Pryde takes over the team in the new series in hopes to get the X-men back on the heroic track. I read that a lot of the story and dialogue were changed due to fan backlash, especially in the final issue. I can believe that, because much of this seems reactionary and unplanned. I wanted to like this, get back into why I enjoy reading these big comics, but this has just set a horrible precedent for what I’ll read next.
I just want Marvel to do better. I need some good X-Men.