Monday, January 16, 2012

Revamping the Uncanny X-Men

It's a move that reeked of the usual sales desperation.  The Uncanny X-Men had lost its way (again).  Events in the mutant series of books dictated that this had to happen.  So on and so forth.  What it really boils down to is a fool and his money are soon parted, and I'm a fool missing some money.

I've been an Uncanny X-Men fan since the early 1980s.  I've been through good.  I've been through bad.  And worse yet, I've been through the boring.  I've been saddened by Claremont leaving, and horrified when he returned.  I've seen Wolverine undergo about 936 different variations.  I've watched my favorite characters killed ... and many brought back to life.  I've witnessed some incredible storytelling and have watched Marvel pander to the almighty dollar.  For a title that has been around in one form or another since the 1960s, this is not unexpected.  To start its numbering over with issue one ... well, that is worth looking at.  Let's look at some of the arguments that have been made.

"It's just a number."  That's what one fellow fan said to me.  He's right. It's just a number.  It doesn't detract from the issues that have come before it.  It erases none of those stories from my memory.  It does, however, give new readers no clue as to what has come before them.  Therefore a sense of history is erased almost like Orwell wrote it himself.  Yes, the stories are still out there, and a search of eBay shows you can get all the back issues.  But the days are gone when some new reader sees issue #143 and thinks, "Wow, what has gone before I got here?"

"The stories got too convoluted."  Yes.  Yes they did.  All the X-titles became a huge mess, dictated by a publisher that cared more about squeezing out every last dollar than it did making sure writers stuck to something cohesive.  All it takes, however, is good writing to fix those problems.  A relaunch just guarantees the same thing will happen again ... especially when you have about 50 other X-titles going.  It will get messy ... again.  The titles do, it must be said, clean house from time to time without relaunching a book.  It could've been done here, as well.  Marvel just saw dollars and decided that a lame attempt to boost sales could make some people forget how lame the attempt would actually be in the grand scheme of things.

"The direction the various mutants split in made this a necessity."  No it didn't.  It made it so that there were new stories that could be told.  Uncanny X-Men has been filled with direction changes.  They have been handled with various degrees of success.  Each time they have been done with a relaunch, they have not stuck and have been handled with all the finesse of a bull on meth.  Will this time be different?  Only time will tell, but I'm actually enjoying it so far despite all my complaints.

Yes, that's right, I'm enjoying the title.  Just a few months into its run, and I have to say it isn't bad.  It also didn't need to be relaunched, however.  We could be at issue #548 telling the same story.  This new direction didn't merit a total relaunch of the title.  It was pointless and unnecessary.  Perhaps a few new readers were picked up, but I can't help but wonder how many people said enough is enough and dropped it.  Probably not many.  If they are like me they know the title will go through cycles of various degrees of greatness, and when it's good it's really good ... and that's always worth waiting around for.

Besides, it'll probably revert back to its old numbering in a year or so anyway.