Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

07 November 2008

X-Men: Deadly Genesis

Collects: X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6 (2006)

Released: December 2006 (Marvel)

Format: 200 pages / color / $19.99 / ISBN: 0785118306

What is this?: In this miniseries, the X-Men are under physical and mental assault by a powerful mutant with a mysterious grudge.

The culprits: Written by Ed Brubaker with pencils by Trevor Hairsine

I expected to dislike X-Men: Deadly Genesis intensely, and unsurprisingly, I did. I don’t blame Ed Brubaker’s scripting or Trevor Hairsine’s pencils; Hairsine does an excellent job in this waste of a cause. No, I blame whoever came up with this misconceived project, whether it’s Brubaker or editor Mark Paniccia or someone else farther up the chain of command at Marvel.

The plot reveals that years ago X-Men mentor Professor Xavier sent a heretofore unknown group to the island of Krakoa to rescue the missing X-Men. That group died, and Xavier wiped the memory of that group from everyone’s minds before sending another group — including Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus — to rescue the original X-Men. Now a member of that missing team — Vulcan, who is by just by coincidence the brother of first X-Man Cyclops and Havok — has been revived, and he’s tormenting the X-Men to get Xavier to confront him.

X-Men: Deadly Genesis cover This is the worst kind of retcon, one that hits the big three no-nos:

1) Tells you everything you know is wrong, while it
2) Reveals a powerful character (or conspiracy) hidden for years and
3) Radically changes how readers must view a long-term character.

This is pointless. And it doesn’t matter how well the story is told, because the central idea of the story is crap. Thirty years after Giant Size X-Men #1 is a little late to be revising the story, don’t you think? Brubaker’s story takes the fun, light story of the All-New, All-Different X-Men and makes it deadly serious and deadly dull. Xavier’s behavior in Deadly Genesis is near unforgiveable, and it makes a mockery of the idea of the unreliable narrator. Surely something so monstrous would have leaked into one of Xavier’s thought bubbles over the years.

There are essentially no heroes here. By not only sending a group of young mutants to their deaths but also wiping their lives from the record, Brubaker’s Xavier is a poor excuse for a human being, good intentions be damned. Vulcan is a monumental dillweed as well, even needlessly torturing the current X-Men for reasons I can’t fathom. Brubaker wants to make Vulcan look good, so he makes him nigh all-powerful, meaning the X-Men can’t stop him. The X-Men do nothing: not only does Vulcan master them easily, but they can’t find Xavier either. Deadly Genesis is a six-issue exercise in wallowing in misery, because nothing happens except making everyone involved look bad.

It’s even more aggravating when Brubaker pulls down the original plot in order to make the new one look better. Vulcan mocks Cyclops for thinking Krakoa released him in order to gather more mutants, but Krakoa killing Vulcan’s team after losing Cyclops is even less credible. Why not capture them as well? This sniping comes across as petty, and if you can’t play nicely with someone else’s toys, then maybe you shouldn’t be playing with them at all. Maybe Brubaker has a fetish for gratuitous retcons; he did, after all, bring Captain America’s sidekick Bucky back from the dead as the Winter Soldier.

There’s nothing wrong with Vulcan being a Summers brother, although the missing third Summers brother is not a dangling plot that had been crying for resolution. Moira studying and training a group of mutants is interesting as well, although a little difficult to shoehorn into continuity without the mindwipes and whatnot. And the backup with Xavier and Moira offering a young Emma Frost entry into the X-Men is interesting, although Xavier too quickly comes to the conclusion Emma won’t join the X-Men regardless of how he coaxes her.

The plot is my main problem, although not my only one. Marc Silvestri’s covers, especially the ones used for Deadly Genesis’s front and back covers, are irritating. I have no idea why all the characters on the homage to cover of Giant Size X-Men #1 are skeletal; none of them die. The back cover is no better; I had a hell of a time figuring out who Marvel Girl was supposed to be (Marrow and Rogue were my first thoughts), Cyclops is vastly overmuscled, and Wolverine’s face looks decidedly feminine, beard notwithstanding. The backup stories about the forgotten X-Men sent to Krakoa are essentially useless — I don’t care about them, and I have no reason to care about them as they’re not only disposable but already disposed of.

I admit I put a great deal of emphasis on continuity — perhaps too much. But because of the way this book chews up previous stories and characterizations and vomits them into the stewpot that is the Marvel Universe, this book is useless to me. I could sell it, but I got this book cheaply in part because the cover is creased. I don’t want to give it away because I don’t want to inflict it on anyone else.

One last note: the rating for Deadly Genesis is based entirely how much Hairsine’s art lifts this wreck above no value whatsoever.

Rating: Marvel symbol (1 of 5)

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