X-Men Forever, v. 3: Come to Mother ... Russia! and v. 4: Devil in a White Dress
Collects: X-Men Forever #11-5 (v. 3) and 16-20 and X-Men Forever Annual #1 (v. 4) (2010)
Released: May 2010 (v. 3) and August 2010 (v. 4) (Marvel)
Format: 120 and 152 pages respectively / color / $16.99 each / ISBN: 9780785136811 and 9780785144359
What is this?: Chris Claremont continues to play with his X-Men action figures in his own private sandbox, thank you very much.
The culprits: Writer Chris Claremont and artists Tom Grummett, Graham Nolan, Sana Takeda, and Peter Vale
I thought about writing separate reviews for
X-Men Forever, v. 3: Come to Mother...Russia! and X-Men Forever, v. 4: Devil in a White Dress, but I just couldn’t do it. The two books resolved into an undifferentiated mush into my mind, and I didn’t have the patience to repeat my criticisms. The books are largely the same in quality, so instead, I’ll tell you what I liked about Russia and Devil:
- Colossus and Black Widow have joined the Winter Guard, the Russian national superhero force, in Russia. Since the Soviet Union is not the Evil Empire any more, it makes sense that Russian heroes would return to the Motherland occasionally, and an out-of-continuity series like X-Men Forever is a perfect place to explore that.
- … hmm …
- It amuses me that the Amazon listing says Nightcrawler and Rogue head to New Orleans, not Jackson. One Southern city is pretty much like another, right? To be fair, Graham Nolan’s Jackson and Mississippi resembles New Orleans and Louisiana. Also, Amazon listings also have George Lucas’s credits in Chris Claremont’s author biography.
- Grudgingly, I will admit I liked the idea of the Summerses acting like a real family. I found the execution off, but the idea is good.
And what I disliked about Russia and Devil:
- Claremont dialogue. Good grief. It’s the same phrases and rhythms Claremont has been using for decades. Don’t the X-Men ever use an original turn of phrase? I would speak far less often if I sounded like a Claremont character. I’d be too embarrassed to say much.
- That cover for Come to Mother … Russia. Who is the Black Widow trying to sex with that pose? Is she trying to seduce me? Am I an enemy agent, whom she will mate with and kill? Oh my god … I am, aren’t I? I knew it! This is the greatest / worst day of my life!
- Reuse of tired plots. Claremont sends Magik to Limbo again, but this time her journey to the Dark Side is completed — so of course that means “teenaged female in scanty costume.” (Thank Odin it’s not bondage gear.) Rogue and Nightcrawler switch powers, just like Psylocke and Jean Grey did at the beginning of Claremont’s return in X-Men #100. SHIELD once again has to deal with a group of traitors in their ranks.
- On-the-nose codenames: Black Magik? Firecat? Perfect Storm? Ye gods.
- Dredging up past “romances.” Kitty and Colossus were done a long time ago — they broke up in Uncanny #183, almost 100 issues before the end of Claremont’s run — and bringing it up again to shoot it down again is pointless. (Besides, their romance was never especially convincing; Kitty was extreme jail bait during their relationship, and the thought that an older, wiser Kitty would want to resume that relationship is a little disturbing.) Black Panther and Storm rekindling their romance is no more believable in X-Men Forever than it was in the X-books’ regular continuity, but thankfully it is over quite a bit more quickly.
- Stupidity. A relationship between Jean and Beast begins with little warning; after all those years together on the X-Men and X-Factor, it seems like the platonic coating on their relationship should be too thick to penetrate. (Perhaps her attraction to him is based on his body hair: he’s the only one who can compare in that department to the dead Wolverine.) Nightcrawler and Rogue run into a trap in Jackson, not questioning why jetsetting stewardess Amanda Sefton would be in the capital of Mississippi long enough to investigate before blundering in.
So, in short, unless you’re looking for Claremont nostalgia accompanied by art that ranges from *ugh* to uh-cceptable, then don’t waste your time with these books. Discounts on the TPBs drew me into X-Men Forever, but I don’t think I’d read the rest of the series even if the books were free.
Rating: Russia: (1.5 of 5 )
Devil: (1 of 5)