Tuesday, 23 August 2011

XHY #1: "Once More The Savage Land"

(Feels like hidden decades...)


Simply put: this is not a good start.

Over at MotCC, I've already laid out my cynicism regarding allowing artists, however highly thought of, to be given the job of writing comics.  Obviously, it can work out just fine, and there's plenty of examples where it's worked out much better than "just fine" (Maus, Cerebus and Palestine jump to mind immediately). 

At least with regard to Marvel, however, the end results are often problematic (Alan Davis suffered a marked deterioration of both writing and pencilling skills when he took on both jobs simultaneously in his late '90s/early '00s X-Men run), and occasionally disastrous (Whilce Portacio, Rob Fucking LieFuck).

On top of that, I'm also distinctly leary about the idea of '80s colossi returning to the books they shaped, after the best part of two decades have elapsed.  Claremont's deeply uneven return to the X-Men at the turn of the millenium is an obvious case in point, and it rather looks like Jim Bryne provides fuel for the fire in terms of this particular hypothesis.

After an astonishing sixteen pages of recap - because it's apparently really important we know the X-Men fought Sauron back in 1969 at that Sunfire was all up in their shit - Bryne sends the team back to the Savage Land to check that Magneto really is dead, because faking his own death is what he always does.  That's actually a nice idea (though it's not played with anything even approaching self-awareness), but, as I've mentioned with regard to First Class, there's a difference between trying to inspire nostalgia and trying to get away with reusing the same old ideas.  X1C manages to (mainly) stay on the right side of this line, even if it does get too close to being a Marvel U Who's Who at times, but whilst Parker's book merely flirts with The Past, Bryne's seems intent on propositioning The Past on The Past's wedding day whilst she's busy trying to make sure The Future gets to catch the bouquet.

There's something horrifyingly self-congratulatory about an artist from the '80s writing stories about the '60s a few months before the third millenium arrives.  It's like watching your grandfather play video games, and suddenly realising that not only does he entirely suck at Super Street Fighter: Space Streets Turbo Streets Fist (they must have made that by now, there's only so many nouns and adjectives in the English language), but that he genuinely can't process just how much things have changed since he was your age.  It's like giving a dinosaur a typewriter and asking it to turn in a 4000 word essay on earlier, crappier dinosaurs.  Just because dromiceiomimus can remember when abrosaurus was getting all the face time in Dinosaurs Monthly, it doesn't follow she'll be able to competently grasp the fundamental nature of what it is to be an abrosaur.  Or resist drinking all the ink.

I think all of this would be more forgivable if Bryne at least had some fun with the title.  It doesn't need to be X-Statix levels of self-referential fan-baiting, obviously, but if someone could just crack a joke or two, instead of being earnest and furrow-browed all the damn time.  I have absolutely no faith that Bryne understands the fundamental absurdity of the task he's attempting, and that makes me worried.


Part of this issue replays the final panels of UXM #66. The remainder of the story takes place over a single day, and the narration states these events take place three days after Xavier is healed by Banner's gamma device.


Monday 23rd June, 1980.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.95 standard years.

(Iceman is 32 years old.)

"I don't talk, I do!"

Contemporary Events

The 1980 US heatwave begins.  By the time it ends in September, it will have claimed 1700 lives.

Standout Line

They're all rubbish.

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