Aug 9, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 166: X-Men Chronicles #1, March 1995

Our second look at the Age of Apocalypse is X-Men Chronicles, which replaced X-Men Unlimited during the AoA. I've often enjoyed Unlimited for its long-format focus on single characters or its varied and generally charming short stories. Chronicles continues to be enjoyable, but this time as a vehicle of history. What makes AoA such an interesting crossover is that it doesn't just involve the present incarnations of particular superhero teams, but moves back into the past as well. Again, I think Hickman's current Secret Wars took a lot from the AoA. The problem is, as of 1995, there were over 30 years of Marvel continuity that had just been rewritten. How do we fill in a gap that big?

The short answer is that we don't. Chronicles gives us a look at one of the fundamental moments in the post-Xavier continuity. We don't need to know all of the particulars of how events that we're familiar with were different. What we need to know is what were the formative moments of this continuity that led us to the moment in which the revamped present series begin. We're dropped in medias res 30 years on. There's just no way we can get all 30 years illuminated. Stick with just a few.

Howard Mackie writes this comic. I've never really been a fan of his work. It's often very derivative superhero storytelling. This is not to say that it's bad. He deploys character very well, he obviously has a love for the Marvel U. It's just his stories seem somehow...lacking. I honestly couldn't tell you why. So much as I liked the history lesson, it seemed a little flat. Which, I've found in my educational career, is how history has always seemed to me. That's probably why I'm not a historian. In history, we can look at moments and create a typology, use one event to explain another, see a causal chain linking through time. This, of course, is not how history actually it. It's just how we see it from a particular ideological point of view. But in superhero histories, the causal events are often intrinsically causal. It's for this reason, or this is one of the reasons, that I argue that superhero comics function on a far more symbolic, mythic level. They unfold with inevitability.

Which I'll be thinking about further as I write my dissertation. But until then, more AoA tomorrow. See you then.

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