October 3, 2022

I actually like comic book events (when they’re done well) because they leverage the strengths of having a large connected universe of characters. Event comics provide context to other books, and I like stories that exist in context.

Post Messiah CompleX

Cable (2008) [1-24]

Written by Duane Swierczynski

Art Ariel Olivetti [1-15], Jamie McKelvie [12], Paul Gulacy [16-17], Gabriel Guzman [18-20. 22-23], Giancarlo Caracuzzo [24]

At the end Of Messiah CompleX Cyclops sends Cable to take the new baby to the future so she can live her own life. However, things don’t work out so smoothly. It also turns out that Bishop believes that killing the child is the only way to prevent the horrific future he comes from. Cable’s time machine is damaged and only allows him to jump forward while Bishop is free to jump back and forth.

This series turns Bishop into one the greatest villains ever. He is completely focused on killing this child (Hope Summers as she comes to be named.) as he believes that doing so it the only way to save the future. But as such he becomes completely disconnected from the reality of the time he’s currently in, because as soon as his job is done none of that will even exist. As Cable and Hope flee further and further into the future, everything just becomes more and more desolate as Bishop destroys this future from beneath them.

The other thing I love about this series is how much time it covers; by the end of the series Hope is 17. Seeing Hope grow up and become a cool character is a journey I really enjoy and makes me want to root for her.

I love this run. It’s one that really sticks with me and that I keep going back to. The biggest flaw it has is with the art, in particular at the tail end of the series where there are a lot of fill in artists and some of it is clearly rushed.

Before the giant crossover event at the end it does have one major crossover with X-Force.

 

X-Force (2008) [1-28]

Written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, Art Clayton Crain [1-6, 11-16, 21-25], Mike Choi [7-10, 17-20, 26-28]

The other move Cyclops makes after Messiah CompleX is talking Wolverine into heading up a black ops team focused on taking out threats to mutants before they materialize. Technically this incarnation of X-Force is formed during Messiah CompleX as a team willing to go to any ends to save the newborn mutant, but it’s here that the real idea for X-Force going forward is established.

There have been a bunch of attempts at proactive superhero teams, but X-Force is the only team where I’ve seen it work and it works because there are explicitly a lot of forces waiting in the wings, plotting to commit genocide.

The dark tone Kyle and Yost brought to New X-Men is carried over here, including some characters: X-23 and Elixir. Wolfsbane is on the team with her story carrying over between here and X-Factor. But the big ongoing character development is that Warren Worthington, The Angel, regains his Archangel powers and persona.

Before the next Big event that caps off this period of time, X-Force has 2 other major crossover stories:Messiah War and Necrosha.

 

Messiah War

X-Force/Cable: Messiah War One-Shot [1] Part 1, Writers Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost, Art Mike Choi & Sonia Oback

Cable [13-15] Part 2, 4, 6

X-Force [14-16] Part 3, 5, 7

Messiah War is just kinda what you’d expect from a crossover between these two books, X-Force goes to the future to find out what the hell happened to Cable and the baby. They actually get thrown into the future in the middle of a mission which adds some extra tension to their return.

Throw in Stryfe, Apocalypse and Deadpool for good measure and you’ve got a great story.

 

X Necrosha

X Necrosha [1] Part 1, Writers Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost Art Clayton Crain

X-Force [21-25]

Ok, the thing with Necrosha is that other than reading the first story in the One Shot “Chapter One” you can just stick to the issues of X-Force in order. The story also connects into New Mutants [6-8] and X-Men Legacy [231-233] but the stories don’t interweave, instead playing out straight and separate (though concurrent) through the individual books.

Necrosha is basically Marvel’s answer to Blackest Night (which happened the same year), with the psychic vampire Selene bringing a lagre number of mutants back from the dead, including the entire island of Genosha, hence the title. This is only an event because it’s kind of too big to not spill over into other books, but primarily this is just another X-Force story; this is a team that’s already dealt with resurrection and time travel.

 

Uncanny X-Men (1963) [504-534]

Written by Matt Fraction

Art Terry Dodson [504-507, 513-514, 518-519, 523-525], Greg Land [508-511, 515-517, 520-521], Whilce Portacio [526-529]

Ed Brubaker stays on for 9 issues after Messiah CompleX but I think I’ve established that I’m not a fan of his X-work. The big thing that happens is that the X-Men relocate to San Francisco, which is like… almost an idea; it doesn’t really come together until Fraction’s run. This run is still kind of emblematic of my problem with the main X-book up until now, but during this run is where things finally take shape. For example, Magneto shows up during Brubaker’s run, but he doesn’t act like he does when he shows up in Fraction’s run and going forward. Character dynamics established here carry forward and are built upon, and more importantly stuff actually happens.

This run is about the progression of characters: Cyclops’s progression as a leader willing to do whatever it takes to save mutants, Beast’s disenchantment with that methodology, and the way it brings in Namor and Magneto.

This run goes through past Second Coming, and issues 534.1 to 544 are also worth reading, but the writer for those changes to Kieron Gillen, who also carries forward into the next volume of Uncanny.

The big story movement happens within the two branded events before the big one.

 

Utopia

Written by Matt Fraction

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia [1] Part 1, Art Marc Silvestri

Uncanny X-Men [513-514] Part 2, 4

Dark Avengers [7-8] Part 3, 5, Art Luke Ross

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus [1] Part 6

Dark X-Men: The Confession [1] Epilogue, Writters Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost, Art Bing Cansino

The event Secret Invasion culminated with Norman Osborn, formerly The Green Goblin and current leader of the Thunderbolts shooting the Skrull Queen and being handed control of Shield and The Avengers (Even forming his own version of the Illuminati) as a result. That’s the context for this story, here’s why it’s really good context for an X-Men story.

The X-Men live in a world that fears and hates Mutants. But the realities of that world are difficult to mesh with the world where the Avengers are basically an arm of the US military. Even if the writers weren’t taking them that far, which they often are, it’s still hard to reconcile the completely fucked US government that tries to kill the X-Men with the one the Avengers often work with and rarely against. Once Norman Osborn is in power the government is explicitly as evil as X-Men stories demand it to be. No skating around it, no pussy footing around, the government is out to get the X-Men, time to throw down.

That the character to do that is Norman freaking Osborn is still weird to me, the modern version of that character still feels like such an enigma to me.

The importance of this story though is that it’s Cyclops’s first big win. He unifies Mutantkind and establishes their new home of Utopia. This is really where Cyclops as Magneto 2.0 takes shape.

 

Nation X

Written by Matt Fraction

Dark Reign: The List – X-Men [1] Part 1, Art Alan Davis

Uncanny X-Men [515-522]

This isn’t much of an event, I mostly just wanted to call attention to this one shot and period of the run if for no other reason than this was my entry point. This trade collection was the point where I finally cracked into modern X-Men comics, which had previously seemed completely impenetrable to me.

And for me it all started with Namor. The X-Men is full of a giant, diverse of characters who all have lots of different ties and relationships with other characters and it’s a lot, especially to take on at once and without an anchor. But Namor, I get Namor, that dude is not very complicated: King of the sea, likes blonds, bows to no man, sometimes hero sometimes villain (The guy who gets a seat on both Tony Stark’s and Norman Osborn’s Illuminati and then quits Stark’s Illuminati because they’re too evil), best friends with Doctor Doom (to the extent that that guy can have friends), shirt optional.

And then Magneto shows up to join the team too so that’s cool.

I’m not saying this is the best place to jump in, but it worked for me because I had a point of reference, and this was a story all about establishing a new status quo. My point is that if you can find a hook, a story that may not be a good place to start can be a good place for you to start. Reading this story I learned enough to become intrigued about what had come before and knowledgeable enough to have a better idea of what I was looking for and what I was interested in.

This story is also a follow up on the end of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s run on Astonishing X-Men, although that doesn’t get fully tied up until Kieron Gillen takes over the book [534.1-544].

 

Second Coming

X-Men: Second Coming [1-2] Part 1, 14

Written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost [1-2], Zeb Wells [2], Mike Carey [2], Matt Fraction [2],

Art David Finch [1], Ibraim Roberson [2], Esad Ribic [2], Greg Land [2], Terry Dodson [2]

Uncanny X-Men [523-525] Part 2, 6, 10

New Mutants [12-14] Part 3, 7, 11, Writer Zeb Wells, Art Ibraim Roberson

X-Men Legacy [235-237] Part 4, 8, 12, Writer Mike Carey, Art Greg Land

X-Force [26-28] Part 5, 9, 13

This is it, what everything’s been building to. Cable and Hope return to the present only for all hell to break lose. I primarily see this story as the culmination of Cable even though Swierczynski didn’t get to work on it. This is really the culmination of the work of all these creative teams as new teams will come in either immediately or shortly after this (Matt Fraction would get 9 more issues on Uncanny for example).

Second Coming is great and it’s worth reading if at least one of these post Messiah CompleX series connected with you. And importantly, it passes my final criteria for a good event comic, the stories that build off it are also great.

Post Second Coming & Schism

Regenesis & Avengers vs X-Men

Avengers  vs X-Men Tie-ins and Reading Order

Post Avengers vs X-Men and Beyond

 

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