Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review # 159: "X-Men - Dream's End"

The "X-Men" franchise was in a bad way at around the turn of the century. Bloated with content over the course of the 90's, the bottom had fallen out a few years earlier. Alan Davis couldn't save it, not even with the culmination of the Apocalypse "Twelve" story. So Marvel turned to the man who defined the title, Chris Claremont, bringing him back after creative differences drove him away about ten years prior.

And it didn't work.

"Dream's End" reads like a series of stunts that carry no meaning. Calling back to "Days of Future Past," Senator Kelly is murdered. Then Moira MacTaggart is killed off seemingly for no reason. Despite some good Claremont moments - like Wolverine and Rogue meditating in a forest as she tries to control her powers, and the post-Moira's-death issue where Charles reflects on their young days of knowing one another - it smacks of desperation. Characters die and you don't care.

Well, except for one.

Claremont bows out for the final two issues of this trade, turning the pen over to Scott Lobdell. It's a fitting move in order to close off the story he started: the Legacy Virus. Beast finally finds a cure, but learns the only way to distribute it is to inject it into another mutant, which would kill him or her and send the antibodies into the atmosphere (exactly how the virus first spread.) Beast shelves the idea, but his lab is broken into by Colossus. Still ripped to shreds over the virus killing his younger sister, Colossus injects the cure into his bloodstream and sacrifices his life. It's one of the best issues Lobdell ever wrote and the postscript where Kitty Pryde takes Peter's ashes to Russia is very good as well.

It was important for Marvel to close the Legacy Virus arc off as the series desperately needed a kick in the ass. One it would get, in short order, from Grant Morrison. It is shocking that the final issue of "X-Men" here is less than five away from the debut of Morrison and Quitely's "New X-Men." The tonal shift the franchise would take - along with its astounding leap in quality - has to be seen to be believed.

Rating: 6/10

1 comment:

  1. I started reading comics regularly toward the beginning of Claremont's return to the X-Men, so this was one of the first crossovers that I experienced as it happened. I remember not being a huge fan of it, though, since it necessitated buying issues from a few series that I wasn't reading (issues that became really expensive before I realized they were a part of the story, so I never did read them). I much preferred "Dream's End" -- in part because it was contained entirely in series I was already buying, but mainly because the story just seemed more compelling.

    That said, I agree about the Lobdell issues collected here; the X-books really did take a turn for the better when Claremont left. Some people might see Lobdell's issues as filler to bridge the gap between Claremont and Morrison, but I think the issues focused on Kitty Pryde and Cyclops, in particular, were some strong character work.