Friday, October 4, 2013

Review # 56: "X-Men - Deadly Genesis"

"Deadly Genesis" is a bit of a placeholder story after "House of M" despite some major repercussions within its pages. It tightens up the loose end of Professor X's whereabouts but doesn't do much in the way of forwarding the M-Day storyline.

If there's a blotch on Ed Brubaker's time with Marvel, his inconsistent run with the X-Men has to be it. He struggles to find the voice of Marvel's mutant population and clearly trails behind the likes of Joss Whedon, Mike Carey, Peter David and others who were working on the X-titles at the time. Oh, well... with his exemplary work on "Captain America," "Daredevil" and "Iron Fist," something had to give.

Much like Brubaker's work on Cap, his introduction to the X-Universe rewrites a major part of the team's beginnings. In the legendary "Giant Size X-Men #1" also known as "Second Genesis" by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, Charles Xavier's original team (more or less. Beast was an Avenger at the time and was out of the picture while Havoc and Polaris have come aboard) has been trapped on the sentient island known as Krakoa. Only Cyclops escapes the island's clutches, and the Professor creates an entirely new squad for a rescue mission. This is the story that introduced Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler to the fold, changing the team's destiny and ultimately leading towards "Uncanny X-Men" becoming the most successful superhero book of all time. The team is rescued and everybody's happy.

Or so it seems.

In a major retcon, we learn that the now super-famous international X-Men squad was the SECOND rescue team. Four mutants attempted to pry Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, Havoc and Polaris from Krakoa's clutches and were killed in action. This revelation is only one of many, shining an entirely new and perhaps villainous light on Charles, who hadn't exactly been a paragon of virtue to begin with. His decisions create an even greater rift between him and the team, and possibly play a big role in sending Cyclops down the path to the shades of grey character he's become.

While it's a cool story in theory and executed fairly well from a plot standpoint, this did significant damage to the franchise that I still don't think it's recovered from. It practically kills any sympathy for Charles Xavier in my eyes, which really hurts some major moments that have transpired since then. Mike Carey did an admirable job trying to breathe new life into Xavier (which I'll get to soon,) but the damage was done. This was the turning point that made Professor X a practically useless character. He was never a good mentor again, he was never a good leader again and when Wolverine and Cyclops became the Professor and Magneto for the new generation, Charles had no place in the universe. Killing him off in "Avengers vs. X-Men" may have been out of mercy.

Also hurting this book is the dialogue. Major characters like Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Colossus and even Wolverine don't sound right in my head. Their speech patterns seem out of step from what I'm used to. Cyclops is also off at times while Moira MacTaggart and Banshee sound nothing like I would expect. That's another major issue: Banshee, who is unceremoniously killed off for no good reason. Death for death's sake. It's senseless and adds nothing to the story. What a shame.

Finally, there's Trevor Hairsine's art which also struggles. His design of a gangly, skinny Beast is ghastly, and Kitty Pryde's appearance in the first issue is flat-out terrible. Several characters look different from panel-to-panel and their jawlines are all over the place. The covers don't do Hairsine any favours either, drawn by one of my top 5 X-Men artists Marc Silvestri. I would have LOVED to see more of him on this or, well... any X-book.

I would have also liked to see more of Pete Woods, who draws five excellent substories about the forgotten X-Men. I'll give credit where credit is due: Brubaker does a first-class job at crafting these new, albeit short-lived characters. He injects enough personality and sympathy into Darwin, Petra, Sway and Gabriel to make their deaths mean something. Though they don't all stay dead.

As for Brubaker... his attempt at shock in "Deadly Genesis" ends with him in need of a defibrillator

Rating: 5.5/10

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