Editor's Note: X-Men Forever #7 arrives in stores Thursday, September 10.
Plot: While the X-Men investigate a destructive force that has taken the lives of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Nick Fury remembers fighting in the trenches alongside Wolverine in World War II.
Review: When I was a teenager, the Uncanny X-Men was my favorite comic. I know I'm not winning any originality points for that one. I'm just stating a fact. I collected every issue from #200-#300 (to think, there used to be just one X-book), not only because I was a completist but also because I was fully enrapt in the ongoing soap opera. And in the days before wikipedia, you actually had to READ back issues to understand continuity. This loyalty and love for the Uncanny team was in no small part due to Chris Claremont's writing. He won me over whole-heartedly with the "Dark Phoenix Saga" alone.
The idea of X-Men Forever sounds like it is ideal for an old x-geek like me: handing the reigns back over to the man who made X-Men what it is today and letting him have total control. This relaunch would be a fresh continuity, separate from the Uncanny title, which would serve as the "real" continuity. As Claremont said, unlike all other Marvel titles where the characters are preserved for the sake of the company's profitability, Forever's characters "would be mortal." This is ironic considering this is the man who at one point killed off the whole team and then spent the next few years slowly bringing them back, one by one. But I digress.
As if to prove his seriousness at having "mortal" characters Claremont has killed off Wolverine in just the first few issues of X-Men Forever. If it doesn't quite feel real this time, it's not necessarily because the reader is expecting the most popular and indestructible member to rise from the dead and reclaim the spotlight. It feels unreal because it's hardly even touched upon in the comic book. En route to a battle site where several S.H.I.E.L.D. members have been killed, Claremont gives more gravitas to a fallen agent who worked for Nick Fury than to the dearly departed Logan. Then in a strange turn that seems to want to have it both ways, Claremont spends the majority of the issue flashing back to the second World War and showing Nick Fury and Wolverine fighting side by side, effectively "resurrecting" Logan for this story.
There is a whole 3-page section at the beginning of this issue setting up who should go on a mission and who should stay and why, and "oh yeah! Remember this character who did this and this?!" I haven't seen expositional dialogue this bad since… well, maybe never. Was Claremont's writing always so painfully on the nose and I just didn't notice due to my teenage hormones? The majority of the pages are filled with characters reminding each other of who they are and what they've done. The final nail in the coffin is a surprise appearance on the last page by a villain who is anything but a surprise. Why the whole team is taken aback when it happens is, quite simply, illogical.
This whole project reeks of vanity and bruised ego, as if Marvel felt bad for taking Claremont's baby away and gave him Forever to play with instead. The gimmick of killing off Wolverine feels like Claremont is more concerned with thumbing his nose at thirty years of status quo than he is of telling a good story. Simultaneously, he seems to want to return to the good ol' days. Unfortunately, his style has aged badly, or perhaps I no longer wear the rosy shades I wore 15 years ago that turned everything with an "x" before its title into pure genius. Whatever the case, the man behind the Dark Phoenix Saga is no where to be found.
Final Word: Avoid this like the Legacy Virus.
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