New Dawn, New Day!
Credits: Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (pencils), Cory Hamscher (inks), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Wilfredo Quintana (colors)
Summary: Following Magneto’s death, the X-Men are joined by members of Excalibur and other former students. In his study, Xavier talks to Nick Fury, who warns him that the X-Men’s days of independence could be over. Meanwhile, in the mountains of Peru, a disembodied Master Mold head comes to life.
Let the real names commence! Nick Fury refers to Magneto as “Eric Lensherr,” a name that wasn’t invented until the Scott Lobdell run. (And “Eric” should be spelled “Erik.”) A narrative caption lists Rogue’s name as Anna Marie Raven, a name Claremont adopted for her following the release of the X-Men films, and Gambit’s name is given as “Remy Picard.” Gambit was given the real name “Remy Lebeau” by Scott Lobdell following Claremont’s departure, a name he allegedly chose by looking at a map of Louisiana and picking the names of two cities.
Archangel appears in his pre-blue state. A wandering thought Jean picks up has someone wondering why he’s covering his true identity amongst his friends.
Professor Xavier is back in a normal wheelchair. Claremont’s comments online indicated that he might reveal someday that the hovercraft from X-Men #1-3 was some form of Shi’ar healing pod.
The art isn’t very clear, but in the background Cannonball, Boomer, and Sunspot appear to be at the gathering. This is hard to reconcile with X-Force continuity of the time, which had the team as outlaws (and Sunspot as a former member, after being taken in as Gideon’s protégé).
Colossus is also in the background, which apparently Claremont didn’t notice, because his comments online indicated that he thought Colossus had already left the team by X-Men #1.
Rachel Summers doesn’t appear in this issue, or in any issue of X-Men Forever, as I recall. Claremont has a belief that the Phoenix Force only exists in the mainstream Marvel Universe and doesn’t have duplicates in other realities, which would preclude Rachel from appearing in an alternate universe title, at least as Phoenix. What’s odd is that no one else at Marvel ever followed this rule; just look at the late ‘80s incarnation of What If…? as an example. This does explain a dangling plotline from early Excalibur issues, though, as Rachel used to wonder why she never met an alternate version of herself when traveling through other realities. (Then again, the very first issue of X-Men Forever teases the possible return of the Phoenix Force, so perhaps I've misunderstood Claremont's self-imposed rule. )
Approved By The Comics Code Authority: It’s 2009! There is no Comics Code Authority!
Production Notes: This is a triple-sized one-shot, cover priced at $4.99, reprinting X-Men #1-3. “New Dawn, New Day!” is a six-page back-up story picking up shortly after the events of X-Men #3. Two extra pages preview X-Men Forever #1. The format is the same as a standard Marvel comic of the time, although the cover seems to be of a slightly sturdier stock. The book is staple-bound, however, which isn’t good on the spine of such a thick comic.
Gimmicks: Three versions of this cover exist.
Review: X-Men Forever, for anyone who doesn’t know, began life around 2008 as one of several proposals Chris Claremont sent to Marvel for a new X-title. It shouldn’t be confused with the original X-Men Forever limited series from 2001, which was inspired by the 1999 Avengers Forever mini. Like Avengers Forever, Fabian Nicieza intended his X-Men Forever as a means of tying up loose ends and smoothing out areas of X-continuity. That plan was scrapped after Bob Harras was fired from Marvel, and the new editiorial regime apparently decided to use the mini as a means of integrating the 2000 X-Men movie’s continuity into the comics, which explains why very few dangling plotlines are resolved, yet Toad and Mystique finish the miniseries resembling their movie counterparts.
The premise of the 2009 ongoing series is “What if Chris Claremont never left the X-Men back in 1991?” That simple question opens a flood of questions, and not all of them relating to the content of the comics. For years, a segment of fandom was adamant that the “real” X-Men died when Claremont left. Considering the sales of the book in the early ‘90s, and the mini-cultural phenomenon that began after the cartoon debuted, it’s understandable if Marvel ignored these fans. And it’s an opinion that did seem to die out over the years; people either accepted that the X-Men weren’t for them anymore, or just adjusted to other creators’ takes on the characters. Maybe that’s why this series wasn’t particularly controversial at the time of its release. By 2009, Marvel publishing a book with this premise wasn’t viewed as a slight towards the creators or editors responsible for the post-Claremont era. Instead, it just seemed like a fun exercise.
“Fun” gets sucked out of the enterprise very quickly if you’re obsessive about continuity, or interpret marketing hype very literally. This series, as becomes obvious in a few issues, is not what Claremont originally intended to do in 1991. I remember some people being upset that the book wouldn’t be set in 1991/1992 after reading some early publicity interviews for the book. If that bothered them, just wait until they see pre-teen Nathan Summers. X-Men Forever quickly becomes Chris Claremont’s bi-weekly What If…?, starring the X-Men. Whether or not Claremont should’ve taken the series’ edict more literally is a question I’ll address in the coming months, but I’ll try to judge the series on its own merits and not on what I assumed it was going to be.
“New Dawn, New Day!” snuck under the radar at the time of its release. X-Men Forever: Alpha was commonly known as the reprint of X-Men #1-3, but no one seemed to know about this backup story. This created two issues: 1) Anyone interested in X-Men Forever surely owns X-Men #1-3 by now and probably doesn’t want to pay $5 for six pages of new material. 2) Apparently, the solicitation for X-Men Forever: Alpha didn’t mention the backup, so even people inclined to buy it didn’t know about it. (I say wait for the cheap lots on eBay. That’s how I picked up this entire series.) And as it turns out, “New Dawn, New Day!” does impact the continuity of the ongoing series. If you’re wondering why Shadowcat and Nightcrawler are riding with the X-Men in the Blackbird in X-Men Forever #1, that’s because they’re already in town this issue…and have just received invites to rejoin the team. Other events occurring in the series are foreshadowed, such as the United States government taking an interest in the X-Men, and Wolverine’s death, which is set up very obviously if you know what’s happening next.
Although this is a brief prologue for the ongoing series, the backup does manage to evoke a sense of the classic Claremont era. Xavier and Nick Fury have a perfectly reasonable, adult discussion about where mutants stand following Magneto’s recent actions. Jean Grey re-adjusts to her telepathy and tries to find her way through a crowd of mutants who’ve returned to the school (apparently for some sort of funeral for Magneto, even if it looks more like a picnic.) Gambit wonders if he should just go back to his old life, and why Storm isn’t as much fun anymore. Kitty and Nightcrawler have nice little moments with old friends they haven’t seen in a while. Ominous clues for the future are dropped, and uh-oh, it looks like Jean and Logan are flirting again. It all feels like a genuine Claremont comic from the era, if you’re willing to overlook the way he’s casually dropped in all of the mystery characters’ real names. Assuming you even knew this story existed, it should give the target audience enough to look forward to in the ongoing series.