The Great Cathedral SpaceCredits: Joe Casey (writer), Essad Ribic (penciler), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Paul Mounts (colors), Richard Starkings (letters)
Summary: The newly formed X-Men use Cerebro to track Professor Xavier to Metzger’s hideout. Meanwhile, Magneto attacks a gathering of Metzger’s followers. Holding Jean and Starkey (a.k.a. Scab) captive, Metzger sends his genetically-enhanced disciple Arthur to torment them. Starkey uses his empathetic powers to absorb Jean’s wounds and saves her life. He dies in the cold, shortly after the X-Men, Xavier, and Fred Duncan arrive to rescue Jean. As Metzger tries to escape, he’s apprehended by Magneto and left to die in Earth’s atmosphere. Later, Jean arrives at Xavier’s school for her first day.
Continuity Notes: A news report following Magneto’s attack on Metzger’s followers says that Democratic candidate Robert Kelly is now running on a platform of identifying and registering mutants. I believe that Kelly actually didn’t show an interest in the mutant issue until he witnessed the X-Men attack the Hellfire Club at the end of the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” (Coincidentally, his first appearance.) It’s also interesting to see Kelly identified as a Democrat, as he’s a Republican in the movie continuity, and was later described as an Independent during Chris Claremont’s 2000 run.
Review: I initially dismissed this miniseries as pointless, and six issues later, I can’t say my opinion has changed much. The art has been fantastic throughout, and Casey could occasionally find a few decent character moments, but most of this series has consisted of boring recruitment scenes and dull villains plotting vague schemes in shadowy rooms. The initial hook of this series seemed to be Fred Duncan’s initial impression of Charles Xavier after he’s forced to face the mutant issue, but Casey apparently lost interest in Fred early on. We never even discover who his imaginary friend was supposed to be during the early issues of the mini. (And it’s just egregious for a miniseries to have dangling plot points.)
The basic idea of a prequel miniseries focusing on Fred Duncan and Xavier is perfectly fine; it’s actually one I would rather read than a continuity reboot of the original X-Men’s origin stories. I don’t see what’s been added by turning Cyclops, Beast, and Iceman into high school classmates, and making Beast responsible for an anti-mutant bigot’s death just seems unnecessary (and it’s another story point that’s simply forgotten by the final issue.) Casey seems to think he’s making a grand statement on adolescence, but his characterizations of the X-Men just feel shallow for most of the series. The story’s more engaging when Xavier, Magneto, and Fred Duncan get the spotlight, actually.
As for this mini’s status as a continuity reboot, the best scenes are usually the ones that play on established continuity, making me wish Casey could’ve focused more on Angel’s career as a local crimefighter or the status of Xavier and Magneto’s relationship shortly before the X-Men’s formation. The retconned material, such as the revamped Jack O’Diamonds, just reads like a pitch for a low-budget X-Men origin movie.