September 30, 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.

The Bendis Era.

 

Y’know I’ve had some problems with some Brian Michael Bendis comics over the years, and I’ve talked about some of those low points here, but (as I also said before) over the course of his Avengers run I think it’s undeniable that he got much, much better as a writer. And the parts of his later Avengers work that I don’t like usually stems from him revisiting stuff from earlier in his Avengers run. (That’s the problem with his Scarlet Witch story in Avengers vs X-Men#0)

Moving to the X-Books is kinda of a clean break for him from that stuff and I think all these comics are fucking phenomenal, I really like his X-Men run. There are issues, but they’re the common comic book issues of occasionally characters getting tossed around and falling out of place because editorial is being wishywashy over where it wants them. These comics don’t have the hardened focus that the Hope era comics had at their best, but these are still some great, entertaining comics that felt both completely in-line with what the X-Books had been doing, and completely different and fresh. Which an impossible line to straddle that Bendis manages to make seem effortless.

 

All New X-Men (2012) [1-41]

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art Stuart Immonen [1-5, 9-14, 16-18, 22-24, 26-29], David Marquez [6-8, 25], David Lafuent [15], Brandon Peterson [19-21], Mahmud Asrar [20, 31-36, 40-41], Sara Pichelli [30], Mike Del Mundo [37], Andrea Sorrentino [38-39]

Beast, Henry Philip “Hank” McCoy, after years of sitting around and being passively aggressively mad about everything Cyclops has been done, finally does something about it, and in doing so goes full supervillain… except not really. The opportunity was there and Bendis toys around with it, but Beast just kinda goes back to doing nothing… after he breaks reality.

But let’s back up.

Realizing that his accelerated mutation is now killing him Beast goes back to an idea he had all the way back in Fraction’s run on Uncanny X-Men: “Rescue the future by raiding the past.” And so he travels back and brings the five original X-Men from the past to the future, to hope that seeing his old self will shake some sense in Cyclops… and honestly this is a dumb plan. It’s incredibly naive of Beast to think this will change Cyclops’ mind on anything, but also pretty in character for someone who’s spent so long reminiscing about the good old days and bitching about the present without really doing anything about it.

But that’s all just set-up, as this book is primarily about the time displaced X-Men and how they adapt to the future they find themselves in. I love that idea because it completes the circle of what this era of X-Men comics had been building all along. One of the staples for X-Men stories since Days of Future Past has been the X-Men visiting a dark future; so many futures, all of them bad. But now, it’s the X-Men of the past coming to visit the present, because we’re already in the dark future. We did it guys, we got there.

Of course this dark future isn’t THAT bad; I’ve seen worse, but it is a world where Jean is dead and Xavier is dead.

This is also a big reason Hope stopped being in stories: You don’t need a Marvel Girl facsimile when you have the real McCoy running around. (Ha, jokes) At least from an editorial perspective, since they are 100% different characters.Although Rachael Grey is still around so… I dunno.

 

Uncanny X-Men (2013) [1-35, then renumbered to 600 for the final issue]

Written by Brian Michael Bendis

Art Chris Bachalo [1-4, 8-9, 12-14, 16-17, 19-22, 25, 27-32, 600], Frazer Irving [5-7, 10-11, 600], Kris Anka [11, 15, 23-24, 26, 33-34, 600], Marco Rudy [18], Valerio Schiti [35]

Uncanny X-Men starts back up under the Bendis helm after the first arc of All New X-Men, and then they run concurrent with issue 600 being the cap on the whole run.

Here Cyclops begins to fight for “The Mutant Revolution” although what that actually means isn’t clear at all. As revealed in the early issues of All New X-Men, Cyclops, Magneto and Emma Frost all have broken powers in the wake of the Phoenix event. Metaphor as reality, with them all handling their PTSD over the death of Charles Xavier in different ways. New mutants are manifesting everyday, but there’s also a new Sentinel program in operation. Cyclops’ goal is still to save mutants and to train them to save themselves. He opens his own school, The Charles Xavier School for Mutants, in the one place Wolverine won’t look for him: the old Weapon X facility.

There is one major crossover between the books, Battle of the Atom, here’s the quick rundown:

X-Men Battle of the Atom #1

All New X-Men #16

X-Men #5

Uncanny X-Men #12

Wolverine &The X-Men #36

All New X-Men #17

X-Men #6

Uncanny X-Men #13

Wolverine &The X-Men #37

X-Men Battle of the Atom #2

It’s really the culmination of the plotline with the time displaced original X-Men. They have more adventures, but nothing else so definitive.

But the run itself ends up really being the end of Cyclops’ story; at least for this Cyclops. The young X-Men go one having adventures and are still part of other stories. And while adult Cyclops is in some more comics after this, this is the last story I’d say is still about him, and it’s not too far off his death. And honestly I think issue 600 of Uncanny is a great sendoff for this Cyclops.

Also I should mention that along the way to this conclusion, The Death of Wolverine happens, which kind of takes the fire out of the X-Men split. That story isn’t on this list because I don’t like it as a story, and it’s even weirder to me as a thing that happened because it only seemed to result in more even more Wolverine comics. What’s weirder is that it doesn’t even really come up for Cyclops in the pages of Uncanny as a moment, Logan just isn’t around anymore after a certain point (Though if you want that story it’s in the Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan one shot).

Of course Wolverine as a brand didn’t go anywhere. X-23 took on the moniker, which I think is well deserved, and they brought Old Man Logan in from his dark alternate future to fill that void.

Just like how Cyclops is dead but there’s still young Cyclops running around, being a good guy.

And that’s why this is the end of this era of X-Men; the three characters that really defined it: Hope, Wolverine and Cyclops are all gone from the comics landscape in the forms that they had here. Charles Xavier is so long dead at this point that his death isn’t the one called back to that influences people anymore, That honor now belongs to Scott Summers. Emma Frost now walks the dark villain road, driven by Scott’s death.

The show must go on. Elements carry forward always. X-23 is now Wolverine and still a headliner. Idie Okonkwo is still a man X-Man. Kid Apocalypse is still an X-Man. There’s plenty of characters introduced here who have stuck around.

The X-Men were all dying again, and now it looks like they’re not all dying again. Comics.

I hope this was helpful or interesting. There are plenty of other good X-Men comics, even more within this time frame I didn’t talk about, like Amazing X-Men (Where Nightcrawler comes back from the dead) or X-Treme X-Men (2012) about a universe hopping team that spun out of a Greg Pak arc in Astonishing X-Men [44-47].

As you can tell I can talk comics for a long time, so hit me up if you have any other questions about this stuff.

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