good news: someone had the guts to finally move our merry band of mutants out of New York.
bad news: their new city is just as expensive.
welcome to the City by the Bay, X-Men.
hotshot writers Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Criminal, Daredevil, Sleeper) and Matt Fraction (Iron Fist, Invincible Iron Man, Punisher War Journal) kick their X-Men project into high gear with "Manifest Destiny", essentially a reboot of the franchise, a major component of which is the relocation to the Left Coast. it is, in their words, their campaign to wrest control of the Marvel Universe from the sexy hands of Brian Michael Bendis, who is still in the driver's seat because of his scintillating 5-year setup into Secret Invasion.
the X-Men, being a long-running major title, needs a reboot just like any computer. following events of Decimation and Messiah Complex, New York has just been too harsh to the mutants. finally proving himself worthy of his years of experience, Cyclops breaks the shackles of uncertainty and leads the X-Men out of the immense shadow cast by mentor Professor Charles Xavier by starting afresh in San Francisco. this is like me jettisoning Winblows out of my PC and replacing it with Linux.
look, i don't even recognize Scotty anymore.
long-hair? smiles? wow, you've come a long way, baby.
we never saw him as confident in leading a team and knowing he's banging the babe, as he is right now. for that i thank Joss Whedon (Astonishing X-Men) and the current writing team, who's been building the storylines to this moment.
of course, every "first" issue of an X-Men reboot needs an appearance by their longtime nemesis. in this case, they had more than one.
they celebrate their relocation by "innocently" crashing a performance art event in downtown Frisco celebrating "mutant kitsch" with three decommissioned Sentinels as props. since it comes with the territory, you can dress any way you want and no one cares. and the X-Men like it like that.
trouble is, with Magneto making an appearance (who somehow repowered himself, and manages to control the Sentinels to attack them), their cachet with the local city fathers might dwindle way too soon. speaking of the Magster:
he's still with this savior thing? isn't he so 1991?
anyway, it turns out he had technology which mimicked his powers, provided by the always-enigmatic High Evolutionary. there's this big robot (bigger than the Sentinels) called the Dreaming Celestial (leftover from events in Neil Gaiman's Eternals mini-series) standing just outside San Francisco, and Magneto provided the distraction so the High Evolutionary could obtain something from it. to what end is yet to be told.
flush with cash thanks to Warren Worthington III (a.k.a. Angel) - who must be secretly doing DoD and NASA contracts to be this mega-rich, rivaling only Tony Stark - the X-Men build a new spanking HQ, excuse me, a "mutant community center" out of abandoned underground military bases. even with the lack of Sh'iar technology, the X-Men still get their creature comforts. smug with his new toys, Cyclops then proceeds to paint a target on their backs.
you see that smile on Emma's face? it just smacks of "you never had it this good, Jean Grey, and he's mine now!"
speaking of Jean Grey, despite San Francisco's tolerance for the absurd, there are still those who think backwards. a new member, Pixie, gets beaten up by a group calling themselves the Hellfire Cult, and barely escapes with her life.
* just to note: that seems to be a Rogue sighting. i thought she was backpacking in Australia.
the Hellfire Cult are just a bunch of homo sapiens, who get their kicks beating up defenseless mutants and sympathizers (same shit, different city). what's surprising is their leader - or rather, their instigator, is quite a familiar face (and one i never liked, even back in his Hellion days).
and a much bigger surprise is sprung when Manny is revealed to be a BDSM puppet who likes being worked over by someone called the ...
oooooohhhh ... if that's some kind of Jean clone, i smell catfight!
with most of the characters tagging along with their fearless leader, i hope there'll be better coordination with the other titles:
- X-Men, now X-Men: Legacy, where Professor X just manages to prevent a Sinister takeover of his body and mind (with some assistance from Gambit and Sebastian Shaw); he has things to tell Scott, and i can't wait for the upcoming confrontation ("what the hell did you do to my school??").
- X-Factor: with the team moving to Detroit (?) and putting down roots for their investigative agency, i don't expect much interaction between Jamie's group and Scott, given Jamie's independent outlook. but he's going to be a daddy soon, so i expect Siryn to be walk out that door and take shelter in San Francisco. plus will Layla be trapped in the future forever?
- Astonishing X-Men: the lateness of this title in its first two years caused the events depicted in it to be ignored largely in the mainstream Marvel Universe. with new writer Warren Ellis drawing the road map, it could be more of the same but at least the characters were closely coordinated with what Brubaker and Fraction are doing.
- Cable: still has the baby, with Bishop still out there. when Nate returns, there'll be a crib waiting (assuming Scott gets through the Ikea instructions).
- X-Force: seems to be loose term now, referring to the ad-hoc team led by Wolverine for black ops missions.
the New X-Men are presumably going to be herded back into the fold. there are future developments pending for Forge, Magik, Hellion, that nano-Sentinel that nearly killed them. but the biggest may be the resolution of the issue of that renegade Summers brother that now owns the Sh'iar empire (and holds Alex, Lorna and the other Starjammers captive). will this be major component of next summer's War of Kings storyline? also two words: Kitty and Pryde.
Uncanny X-Men #500 of course, has a bunch of covers, but i still like the Greg Land one slightly over the Dodsons' all-female variant and the Alex Ross and Michael Turner versions (seems like a re-used cover as all characters are still stuck in their '90s rags).
Greg Land in particular, has broken out in a big way, after his stint in Supreme Power, providing gorgeous interiors to complement his already-impressive covers. i expect him to be in this book for awhile, though just like John Cassaday, Bryan Hitch and others who take a lot of time in drawing, i also expect delays. plus, Land has his stumbling blocks when rushing, just like this:
if Land can do interiors, how much money would it take for Greg Horn to do the same? paging the Marvel powers that be.
though they have written moments where they tip their hats to the past, Messrs Brubaker and Fraction have made it clear this is the first step towards the next 500 issues. i'm all aboard on this trip.-----
Uncanny X-Men #500-501
Ed Brubaker/Matt Fraction/Greg Land/Terry Dodson/Jay Leisten/Rachel Dodson/Justin Ponsor/Joe Caramagna