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New X-Men, Vol. 1 Paperback – May 28, 2008
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After every supposedly crucial reformation, though, the books settled back into the mediocrity that had been apparent since Mr. Claremont left in 1991, like vinegar returning to the top of Italian dressing a while after it is shaken. Soon the dangling subplots, ultimate predictability and the relative one-sidedness of each character returned and another epic reformatting was needed to keep the reader's interest.
The cycle may have ended when Joe Quesada became Marvel's editor in chief in 2000. Mr. Quesada was bent on waking Marvel from its creative slumber, eliminating the boring and ultimately inconsequential storylines from its more historied titles, lessening the importance of retroactive continuity and gearing Marvel's titles towards the general young adult audience, not just obsessive comic book devotees or "fanboys." One of the first targets of his renovation was the X-men. Writer, Grant Morrison, who was renowned for his work on dark, edgy titles such as The New Adventures of Hitler and The Invisibles but who had also proven his ability to revitalize long-standing titles on DC Comics' JLA, was tapped to script the new storylines and Frank Quitely, who had worked with Mr. Morrison on a JLA mini-series, was hired to redesign the X-men and their headquarters, the X-Mansion, to better parallel the recent hit X-men film.
So once again Marvel completely altered the X-books, reformatting the titles' covers, changing characters' uniforms, and chopping down the team's line-up (This time to Beast, Emma Frost, Phoenix, Cyclops, Professor Xavier and Wolverine). But alterations had been made to this variation of the X-men that had always been too risky for other reformers. The code of avoiding political hotspots had been broken, as Cyclops contributed to an assisted suicide and the X-men debated over employing capital punishment to reprimand a horrific supervillian. Topics such as Cyclops' and Phoenix's lovelife (including their sexuality) and Beast's insecurity about his monstrous appearance were tackled from new, more psychological angles. And, as a tragedy occurred on an enormous scale when the mutant-hunting Sentinels invaded Genosha and Professor Xavier made a seemingly unthinkable PR decision, readers were assured that this time, there would be no return to the ordinary that had followed other "reformations." Not since the X-men's golden years, when Jean Grey appeared to perish and Wolverine proposed to Japanese aristocratic matriarch, Mariko Yashinda, have readers been given such reassurance that every issue was too important to miss. Mr. Morrison likely completed extensive study on what had been missing from the X-men throughout the nineteen nineties. In his adaptation, the characters seem more complex and fascinating, the plot lines more surprising and the books in general more realistic and adult-orientated than they have in years. It is still too soon to tell but X-men: E is for Extinction, which reprints the first four issues of this latest incarnation of the X-men, may portray an actual revolution of the X-books. Finally.
Then - coinciding with the release of the (generally well-done) movie - I heard Grant Morrison was taking over the writing on the book. I picked up his first issue, and right from the start you knew he'd put in his time rethinking and recreating the X-Men. New costumes; new, more adult problems facing the characters (such as the strain between Scott and Jean's marriage, the Beast's quest for identity); and, oh yes, the little matter of the genocide of all the mutants on the island of Genosha - including Magneto (Morrison has stated he has no doubt Marvel will revive the character someday - but not while he's doing the scripting).
The plot twists from this point are fantastic, and there's no turning back from some: the public revelation of Xavier and what is really going on behind the doors of his school, Logan and Jean Grey resolving their sexual tension once and for all (long over-due), Emma Frost suddenly becoming the absolute most interesting character in the series.
The drawbacks? As every other reviewer here has mentioned, it's the art. Frank Quitely's work is indeed fantastic - a welcome change from the bursting muscles and heroic facades of the past - but the others who fill in A) disrupt the continuity, even if they had been Quitely's equal (or at least in his style), but B) they're not: Kordey's pencils are, as virtually every reviewer has stated, poor, sloppy, amateurish. I don't know if he was given like 14.8 hours to get the job done, but it sure looks that way. On every page. In every panel.
Still, it's a good read despite these flaws; and I'd recommend it higher than anything else going on in mainstream comics right now. A very brave, interesting, and necessary change of pace for Marvel's most popular title.
That said, to put it simply: this is one of the best modern stories of the X-Men. I recommend you pick up previous issues to catch up on the action (a LOT has happened, from secondary mutations to super-sentinels to changes with Beast to the White Queen joining the good guys). It's a good idea to get this story along with the rest as the story-telling is best when view with the "big picture" - the fun comes with the build-up and anticipation.
The story is a grand epic written by Grant Morrison of JLA and Invisibles fame and with art by the very talented (although somewhat unreliable) Frank Quietly. Their run on "New X-Men" (with breaks from Quietly on regular occasion, especially as of late) has been heralded by fans and critics alike, as the New X-Men don a slightly renovated attitude and style.
Dramatic, action-packed, and with plenty of interesting twists, "E is for Extinction" brings great writing and great art together to produce an incredibly enjoyable story. Professor Charles Xavier has a twin sister who's bent on - what else - the destruction of mutantkind. Journey from the recesses of Professor X's mind to the depths of space with the Shi'iar kingdom on an adventure that is definitive Grant Morrison - holds no punches.
I'll leave it at that, as I don't want to give away too much of your fun.
"To me, my X-Men."
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However, still worth buying