Sep 14, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 202: X-Universe #1, May 1995

I'm quite sick today, so this will be a short update. There's a couple of problems with this comic. First, why place it under the aegis of the X titles when it's obviously about characters whose usual exploits do not fall under that banner? While the trade dress lines up with the other series penchant for "witty" X-titles, there's really no reason to lump members of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man's supporting cast under that letter. If one looks ahead to the "Onslaught" series, the specials that finish that crossover are Onslaught: X-Men and Onslaught: Marvel Universe--so why not call this comic Marvel Universe and simply have the AoA trade dress prominently on the cover.

Well, the easy answer is that there's already been a number of comics called Marvel Universe, so perhaps that would cause confusion in readers who....can't read the words on the cover of the comic?

The other problem is that this comic comes far too late in the crossover. These characters are being introduced literally during the climax of the AoA, when the nuclear strike is all but immanent. We've heard obscure references to the Human Council (a racist name if ever there was one), and even seen a few of them, but not actually any of the characters in this issue. X-Universe needed, if it was to be effective, to be a longer series, and to function both as a historical document, a la X-Men Chronicles earlier in the crossover, and as an intrinsic part of the story, which is what the current piece attempts.

Maybe it'll pick up in the second issue, but I have no interest in any of these characters. I've a friend who, in reference to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight films, uses the term "grit-washing," which is exactly what we've been given in X-Universe: a grit-washed version of some beloved characters. But to give us this without giving us context is insulting both to readers and to the characters. AoA would have been better off without this afterthought comic.

I think that might be one of the more critical things I've said about a comic in the last 200 days or so. But, as I said, I'm sick, and my head hurts. And this comic was pretty bad. See you tomorrow.

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