Overview

CompleX Crossovers

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Once upon a time, there was only one X-men related book. I know, I know, that seems hard to believe. But while today’s shelves are filled with books with X in the title, just over a quarter century ago there was only one, the extremely popular Uncanny X-Men.

But there is a saying in business that nothing succeeds like success. Being Marvel’s most popular book meant that the X-Men universe would be used as fodder to expand Marvel’s line. The world mutants begat miniseries’ for Wolverine—both solo and paired with Kitty Pride, Iceman, and one that teamed the X-men with the toy tie-in team, The Micronauts. Many more miniseries would follow, joined by spin-off ongoing series’ such as The New Mutants and X-Factor.

With the number of titles sharing the shared universe growing, it seemed natural that Marvel would apply a time-tested company tactic to the books—a crossover.

Marvel usually had its characters crossover. Spider-Man would appear in the Avengers, the Hulk would face off against the Fantastic Four, and so on.   But the X-Men books, united by a backstory, origin and characters, took the idea of a crossover to a whole new level.

The first major X-crossover was the legendary Mutant Massacre storyline. The story bounced between Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor for four months during 1986 to 1987, with stops in the New Mutants and non-mutant books such as Thor, Power Pack and Daredevil along the way.

The Mutant Massacre would establish a blueprint for what would become a yearly tradition. The template was fluid and ever-changing. Sometimes storylines would crossover into the non-mutant Marvel books, sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes every X-book was included, sometimes it was only two or three titles. Sometimes they were multi-chapter arcs, sometimes they were smaller.

For 15 years, there was at least one, if not more, crossover amongst the mutant titles. However, since 2001 when Grant Morrison and Joe Casey took over the main X-Men books, there has not been a true crossover. That is, until now.

X-Men: Messiah CompleX is the one-shot opening salvo in the return of the crossover to the X-men books. It is the first installment in a 13-part storyline that will run through X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor and New X-Men from now until January. The story itself spins out of another company-wide crossover event, House of M.

At the end of that miniseries, the Scarlet Witch rebooted the Marvel Universe with three little words—“No More Mutants”. After that, instead of numbering in the millions, only around 200 mutants still existed. And there was no hope of any new mutants being born.

This event was supposed to establish a new status quo for the mutant universe. It would re-establish them as a minority, one facing the threat of extinction. But the main X-Men books for the most part ignored this new reality, becoming embroiled in storylines that didn’t reference the changes much. Exploration of the new status quo was left to miniseries like Generation M, X-Men: The 198 and Son of M and to lower tier X-books such as X-Factor and New X-Men.  

The Messiah CompleX crossover brings the plot points introduced in House of M to all the X-books in a big way. The story itself revolves around a mutant baby being born, providing a chance for the survival of mutants into the future. However, this new arrival isn’t joyous news for long as the baby goes missing. Factions of human and mutants race, each with their own motives, to find the child. Some want to study it, some want to protect it. And some want it dead.

This crossover, in the tradition of many from years past, promises to shake up the world of the X-Men forever. It promises “New alliances, new leaders, and new rules.” So, for longtime X-Fans, this is not just a return to traditions past, but something that will shape their favorite universe’s future.

Also out this week:

Justice Society of America #10:

Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come was a seminal work for DC Comics, a sweeping epic which told a grim alternate future for the DC Universe. A difference in opinion between the creators over a possible sequel led to Waid working on the follow-up The Kingdom all by his lonesome. Ross had gone on the record as being none too pleased with the direction Waid went in.

Now, Ross will be revisiting the Kingdom Come universe as he joins Geoff Johns as a co-writer for an arc that begins this issue. Will we finally see what Ross would have done if he had his way with the sequel? Will this be his chance to reverse what Waid had done with The Kingdom?  And will the Kingdom Come Superman really be joining the JSA?

Geoff Johns and Alex Ross (W), Dale Eaglesham (A), DC Comics, $2.99, Ongoing Series.

Daredevil Annual #1:

Another yearly tradition comic companies have come back to is the annual. For the longest time, almost every title DC and Marvel published received an extra-sized issue a year to give fans a bonus story or two featuring their favorite characters. For a while, companies moved away from the practice but over the last several years annuals have returned with a vengeance.

This annual features a story which ties into Ed Brubaker’s first arc on the regular series. Carlos La Muerto, also known as the Black Tarantula, has been released from prison. The first man he seeks while on the outside is Matt Murdock. But what does he want from him? Is it help starting a new life on the straight and narrow? Is it a partner in fighting crime? Or is it the elimination of a possible threat to him reclaiming his criminal empire?

  Ed Brubaker and Ande Parks (W), Roy Allen Martinez (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Annual.

American Virgin #20:

Vertigo has had a great deal of success in its short existence. Sandman has become a phenomenon both in and out of comics. Hellblazer is one of the longest running series still being published today. And Fables shows signs of many more years of success.

However, recently, it has been hard for new Vertigo series to garner the same sort of success. Testament is soon to be cancelled and so is this title. This issue begins the final arc of the series, which is due to end with issue #23.

Why didn’t it catch on? I recently began reading the title, having found most of the series in the fifty cent bin at a local convention, and I liked what I have read so far, so it’s not a question of quality. The internet is abuzz with a litany of reasons. But those claiming the death knell for Vertigo might be a bit premature.

Steven Seagle (W), Becky Cloonan (A), DC/Vertigo, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Kade: Shiva's Sun #0:

Sean O’ Reilly’s immortal warrior Kade returns to comics in an all new story. And to entice those of you who are unfamiliar with him, this issue, which is the first of a five-issue series, will cost you merely a quarter.

Fifty years have past since the death of his fellow demon hunter, Ezra, but her death still haunts him. Kade felt a bond with Ezra and when she was violently taken from him, he realized that he was doomed to an eternity of loneliness. His life has lost meaning and sleep has become just a memory. All that’s left for him is the hunt. But will his quest to eradicate all demons from Earth lead him to someone who will renew his passion?

Sean O’Reilly (W), Stjepan Sejic(A), Arcana Studios, $.25. Five-Issue Miniseries.  

Action Comics #858:

In the last ongoing series Gary Frank did, he had the chance to work on a Superman imitator. Hyperion of the Squadron Supreme is a thinly-veiled version of the Man of Steel, right down to powers and origin. Now, comics veteran Frank is getting called upon to work on the real deal, as he joins Geoff Johns on Action Comics starting with this issue.

Another reason to pick up this issue is that it will answer some questions raised post-Infinite Crisis. The appearance of the classic Legion of Super-Heroes, and hints that Superman was once a member, in Justice League of America have been cause for discussion about what was going on there. Now, Superman’s involvement with the Legion will be explored in this issue. If you want more information, Legion fans, this issue is a must buy. 

Geoff Johns (W), Gary Frank (A), DC Comics, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

###

William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

 

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