September 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the X-Men, and Marvel gave us a weekly crossover, Battle of the Atom, to celebrate. We’re halfway through the event, and I’d rather wait and discuss it in its entirety when it’s completed. (To be honest, not a lot has happened so far in BOTA – its pacing makes Age of Ultron look breakneck. To sum up five issues in one sentence: Future X-Men showed up, Past X-Men ran. I need to get out my Monty Python hat and yell “GET ON WITH IT!” But things are picking up, I’ll judge it at the close.) Instead, dear X-Philes, I’d like to take a minute and go over the other HUGE developments that have happened in the 616 circulating our favorite merry mutants.
First out of the gate we have Cable and X-Force, which apparently I am the only one excited about on the entire planet. It’s still selling north of 30,000 copies a month, but nobody seems to be happy about that despite the book being a consistently a great read. Cable, always with his mind on the future, has been having vivid visions of violence, and uses his team to counteract these premonitions. His adopted daughter Hope recently discovered the source of these psychic phenomena: herself. Thousands of years from now, Future Hope, wearing Stryfe armor, is transmitting information to Cable with the hopes of canceling the apocalypse. The downside? Well, it’s killing him. This story arc isn’t as strong as the Messiah trilogy from a few years back, but it’s been far fairer to Hope than her role in Avengers Vs X-Men, which was decidedly anticlimactic. Hope Summers is essential again. And as an added bonus, Cable isn’t all-powerful and invincible anymore.
For those of you, and I know you’re out there, who couldn’t care less about Cable now that the ‘90s are over and Liefield is a punchline instead of a superstar, I still have good news for you. Legion, AKA David Haller, AKA the son of Xavier, is starring in X-Men Legacy, and it’s a hell of a ride. I couldn’t really begin to summarize this series, but to be honest, the jumpy plot and unpredictable artwork really fit Legion’s character. He’s been all over the planet, dealing with all kinds of Salvador Dali Armageddon archetypes. Loosely tying the threads together is David’s knowledge that he will somehow evolve into a world-consuming amoeba, and it’s his steps to avoid this catastrophe that end up expediting it. This has just recently come to a head concurrently with a confrontation with the man who killed his father, and who supplanted him as a true son, Scott “Cyclops” Summers. I love the choice of the Legacy title for a book about Chuck’s baby boy trying to make his way in this crazy mixed up world.
Speaking of children and absent fathers, Archangel’s darling rugrats, Uriel and Eimin, the Apocalypse Twins, are really ripping up the cosmos in Uncanny Avengers. I know Infinity has cornered the market on Marvel Space Opera, but let’s put things in perspective: Uriel just cleaved a Celestial’s chest open with Thor’s old axe Jarnbjorn. That’s going to have repercussions. To the best of my knowledge, we haven’t seen this much Celestial action since Thor #300, when Odin’s eye finally stopped yammering about the ring of the Nibelung. (On a side note, Apocalypse has always gone on and on about the coming judgment of the Celestials. Can we get back to that at some point, Marvel? That sounds pretty serious. I have this image of a splash page with a few Celestials ripping up a city, with Apocalypse standing in the foreground saying, “See? I tried to tell you. But nooooooo, you had to try to stop me. Now look at this mess. I ain’t cleaning this up. You deal with it.”)
Kang has been the puppeteer through the Apocalypse Twins Saga, but it’s become increasingly apparent that Uriel and Eimin are bucking the Conqueror and implementing their own plan. Add in zombie Horsemen, including Daken attempting to resolve his daddy issues, and this series is a contender for strongest mutant book currently being printed.
Lastly, I’d like to bid a fond farewell to Gambit’s latest solo series. The Cajun card shark has run up against Mayan monsters, delved into international espionage, and failed again to patch things up with Rogue. 17 issues were not enough this time around; this book found its footing quickly but apparently didn’t catch on with readers. I don’t think this is as much of a tragic mistake as, say, canceling Dial H or Journey Into Mystery, but I certainly got more out of reading this series more than I have in the three Wolverine titles. Let’s be honest, Savage Wolverine is irrelevant, and Wolverine Max is neither canonical or entirely to the “MAX” as it would like us to believe.
So, with the passing of the 50th anniversary of the X-Men, it would seem we have quite a bit to be excited about as they embark on the start of their next half-century. I can’t help but chuckle that the anniversary crossover event is at a standstill, and the orbital books are the ones kicking into high gear.