by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor
Written by Brian Michael Bendis with Art by Chris Bachalo, Tim Townsend, Marc Deering, Wayne Faucher, Mark Irwin, Jamie Mendoza, Victor Olazaba, Al, Bey and Antonio Fabela
There are certain titles that I feel fall into a specific category of – Read in a Trade. This book is definitely in that category. There are different reasons for wanting to do that, Hawkeye is an example of another book that is better read in a trade, but for a completely different reason. That book has come out so sporadically that you are better off waiting for a collection; otherwise you end up re-reading half the issues just to remember what happened. Some books are so action heavy that they read too quickly, others are clearly planned with an ebb and flow longer than a standard 22 page title. However this title moves the story on so slowly that reading it issue by issue is an exercise in patience.
Do not misunderstand me, this does not mean that this series is bad, quite the opposite, but when you consider this is a direct continuation (or in face, direct replacement) for issue 24 and more to the point a continuation of the arc started when Scott Summers killed Xavier in AVX back in 2012, you can understand quite how slowly this plot is moving. When this story began we were right in the middle of Original Sin, it was in fact the crossover issues, since then we have battled through an entirely separate event comic, AXIS, and today I read an issue of Avengers set a full 12 months in the future of this issue. This is not just slow, it is excruciatingly slow. This is back to Bendis taking a full 6 issue arc of Ultimate Spider-man simply to re-tell Amazing Fantasy 15.
If you are following Marvels releases carefully you will realise that I am about 2 weeks behind schedule with this issue’s review, but this was done intentionally so. For the first time ever, the rest of this review is just one long spoiler – Do not read ahead if you wish to experience this for yourself! I do not normally do this because I hope to encourage people to read the books, but for this one I have given people plenty of time to read it and I really want to talk about it.
***Spoilers Start here***
But first, some back story: way back in issue 23 we discovered that Charles Xavier had left a will and in that will was the shocking revelation that he had married Mystique. Admittedly this was not that much of a shock to people who had read Battle of the Atom because we saw his future child in that issue teaming up with Mystique, and (one can only assume) Wolverine’s child, to come back into the past and kill the All-New X-Men. Since then we have had a huge detour as Xavier’s biggest secret was then revealed to be a hidden mutant with enough power to destroy the planet. Well he got Scott and Magik killed, then punched Emma into diamond dust and it was up to Eva to wing her way into the past to fix it all.
What we see is Xavier as the most unscrupulous and downright evil he has ever been. Honestly for anyone who thinks that Charles is the good one and Magneto is the bad one, is plain wrong; Charles just had better PR. He does not fix it so that Matthew is saved, he fixes it so that Matthew can never even be born; he literally scrubs him from reality. This is a man who lusts after a 15-16 year old Jean Grey, who tried to murder his own sister in the womb, enslaved a sentient creature simply to make the Danger Room and completely deleted the memories of an entire X-Men team he got killed; but he tops that off with this one action in my opinion.
So, what about the butterfly effect I hear you all cry (in unison with Eva in the book) well we return to the future, and most things are utterly unchanged, excepting the fact that Scott, Emma and Magik are no longer dead, but with the massive change that Xavier never got married. Oh and he left everything to Scott, he clearly didn’t get a chance to change his will after Scott murdered him. I really do think that there should be a law that says if you kill someone you are instantly banned from benefiting from their estate, but more to the point as a wanted criminal, surely he would be ineligible to sign for it anyway?
However, this leads me onto the issue I really want to discuss. There were two revelations back in issues 23 and 24 that tied in with the concept of ‘Original Sin’ and both of them have been completely expunged from history by the changes. Matthew never happened and Charles never married Mystique. Now this leads me onto a big question – did the Battle of the Atom ever happen?
I have spoken with people about this and their only objection to my reasoning was that people can have kids without getting married, but hear me out and make up your own mind, I think that’s not the point. We saw Charles and Mystique’s child all grown up and vengeful come back in time (twice) to try and kill off everyone to make their future happen the way they wanted it. We then find out that Charles and Mystique were married. There would be no point in telling us that other than to imply that they got married to have a child, or because they were having a child. This is a comic book, space is limited and you do not put things in for no reason, nor do you repeat the same conversation (issue 24 and 31) verbatim changing only the one section (removing mention of the marriage) without it implying something. For me, this means that they never had a child, which means the Battle of the Atom did not happen, which in turn means that not only did this book take 9 issues and 8 months to get to the point, it then retconned most of the previous year of X-books.
***The spoilers end here***
For those of you not reading the spoilers, I have some basic consumer advice that will save you the price of 19 issues of this book and 30+ issues of X-Men and All-New X-Men, not to mention the wasted time reading them. If you have to, read these issues in a trade, they are so drawn out it will help reading them all together; however with the retcons and re-ordered continuity, I suggest skipping directly from issue 11 to issue 30, or effectively everything written in the X-universe since mid 2013…