Monday, June 23, 2014

X-MEN FOREVER #3 - September 2009


The Cruelest Cut
Credits:  Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)

Summary:  Professor Xavier discerns that Jean was in contact with Wolverine before she unleashed the psychic cry.  He enters her mind and watches the events she experienced through Wolverine’s eyes.  Xavier witnesses Storm kill Wolverine inside a penthouse apartment.  The experience causes Xavier to fall unconscious, while Jean is suddenly revived.  Inside the Danger Room, a wounded Sabretooth implicates Storm as Wolverine’s murderer.  Jean unleashes a psychic threat to Storm, confirming Sabretooth’s claim.  The X-Men pursue Storm.  Eventually, Shadowcat is left alone with her.  When Storm tries to kill Shadowcat, she suddenly extracts an adamantium claw and cuts Storm's right eye.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Sabretooth refers to Wolverine as his son, and the X-Men apparently just accept it as gospel truth.  This is another example of Claremont ignoring continuity not written by him, as Larry Hama had already established through a blood test in Wolverine, pre X-Men #1-3, that Wolverine and Sabretooth are not related.
  • Xavier is shocked to discover that Jean and Wolverine have a primal bond stronger than her connection to Cyclops.  Later, Cyclops is shaken after hearing Jean refer to Wolverine as the man she loves during her psychic outburst.
  • An off-panel group is monitoring Storm’s actions.  They decide to allow her to clean up her own mess.

Review:  Yes, Kitty has an adamantium claw now.  And boy is that stupid.  Claremont, to his credit, doesn’t keep the origin of this as a mystery for long, and he has been foreshadowing the revelation right up until it happens, but that doesn’t make the basic idea any more bearable.  Claremont’s apparently had the idea for Kitty to use one of Wolverine’s claws for a while now, since he established that she now carried one during X-Men #100 (which I think was the only time he wrote her during his brief return in the “Revolution” revamp).  That was a bone claw, one that had been broken off during a fight.  Which is fine.  I don’t think it adds much to Kitty’s character, but there’s a logical story behind it, and I can’t necessarily argue that Kitty wouldn’t carry one of Wolverine’s old claws.  But giving her an adamantium claw, fully integrated into her body, just strikes me as ridiculous.  Aside from the fact that it distracts from Kitty’s basic powers and (assuming she uses it) requires her established personality to be altered, the justification we later receive is simply preposterous.  We see quite a few physical alterations of established characters in this series, many of them poorly received, but this one is personally the one I can’t stand.

Another one of the series’ more annoying moments occurs this issue, and that’s the telepathic confirmation that Wolverine is Jean’s true love, not Cyclops.  I didn’t mind the opening splash page of this series so much, nor did I have a real problem with the prequel annual that revealed the story behind their kiss, but this reads as if Jean truly loved Wolverine and not Cyclops all along.  Had Claremont worked in his bit from X-Men: The End regarding Madelyne Pryor now having the portion of Jean's soul that loved Cyke, I could live with that, but the concept is never established in this continuity.  Placing Wolverine above Cyclops undermines so many classic stories, including Claremont’s most famous one, and it’s far too reminiscent of modern Marvel’s insistence that Wolverine really is the coolest guy in the world, simply because he became the most popular amongst a certain group of fans.  Of course Wolverine gets to become the star of the movies, join the Avengers, hit on Spider-Man’s wife, have flashback WWII adventures with Nick Fury, have his healing factor amped up to the point that he can’t be killed, be everyone’s best friend or worst nemesis, lead his own team of secret X-Men, have forty solo missions a month, and always get the girl.  The idea that Jean even had feelings for Wolverine is itself a retcon that goes back to the added pages in Classic X-Men #1; previously, the unrequited love was solely on Wolverine’s side.  And even taking that retcon into account, I think only the most hardcore of Wolverine fanboys actually thought that Jean truly loved Wolverine more than Cyclops.

So, yeah, this series can veer into directions that simply annoy me to no end.  That doesn’t mean I can’t give credit where it’s due, though.  The mystery regarding Evil Storm is a good one, one of the most shocking Claremont’s ever developed, and I could easily see myself absolutely freaking out over it had this truly been published as the original follow-up to X-Men #1-3.  Claremont’s been meticulously setting this up since the book began, and when the resolution is finally revealed, it actually is a clever usage of existing continuity that plays fair with the audience.  It’s also a lot of fun to see Tom Grummett drawing the characters in their costumes of this era; they actually don’t look dated at all under his pencils, since he manages to make everyone look as if this really is how they’re supposed to look.  The pacing of the book is a welcome relief from what you might expect from Claremont, now that he seems more than willing to just push ahead and get to the point.  As the series progresses, he often moves so fast the book feels like a fever dream, but at this point he’s found a decent balance between crazy things happening and giving the cast time to react to the crazy things happening.


Matt said...

Yeah, the bloom came off this rose pretty quickly. Kitty's claw is not just a silly idea; it makes no sense. It reads like bad fan fiction, as does the Wolverine/Jean relationship revelation.

I remember when Sabretooth showed up, going on about Wolverine being his son, and wondering if I had missed something in some long-forgotten Claremont comic, where Wolverine or Sabretooth implied to the group that this was the case. I don't think I did. In all their past appearances together, there was a strong implication that they were father and son, but I'm pretty sure those comments were only between the two of them. It's bizarre that no one questions Sabretooth's claim here.

Glad to see you agree with me on Grummett's illustrations of the Jim Lee costumes. Cyclops, Gambit, and Rogue all look just perfect on that cover.

Anonymous said...

On a semi-related note, did the group similarly have no reactions to Gambit and Rogue's real names? Were the names used in the stories or just put out there in character captions? Neither character was named at this point, and in 616, Gambit got pissed off when Bishop called him by name in front of the team.

G. Kendall said...

No one ever makes a big deal about the names. It's just accepted that everyone knows everyone's real name.

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