Oh, X-Men Forever, how I want to love you! Really, I do! I love the concept and I love the era in which the comic takes place (The conceit of this title is that it picks up right after legendary author Chris Claremont was forced off the title 16 years ago). Having Dave Cockrum covers like the one above is certainly a nice treat! However, I have not been loving this series. It was a refreshing switcheroo to have Wolverine taken off the playing board right off the bat, and I even enjoyed the “evil” Storm that came out of nowhere. It was a bit madcap and perhaps it was done for shock value, but it certainly got my attention. I started off reading the series with the excitement I used to feel when I was a younger reader, but that excitement diminished with each issue. Kitty somehow absorbs/phases one of Wolverine’s claws? There’s a possible child clone of Storm? And to add insult to injury, she’s going to be called Lil ‘Ro? Professor Xavier is keeping secrets? Nick Fury is going to be a mainstay character in the title? A whole issue is dedicated to exploring the background of another Trask descendant? Oh, but wait, the real clone may be the evil Storm? It’s all too much. It feels like Claremont decided to jettison all the elements that made the old X-Men stories beloved. Killing off Wolverine (although we’ve been treated to flashback stories about Logan and Nick Fury after his death) in favor of a toothless Sabretooth falls flat for me. Evil Storm and child Storm are two Storms too many (I can’t believe I just said that!) and the fact that one of them might be a clone is an old chestnut that has lost its flavor. Breaking up Jean and Scott over an affair that never happened feels forced to me. Okay, Jean held a torch for Logan and was keeping his secrets. And how many more stories do we need about Xavier keeping secrets?
I want to like this title. I really want to love it. But upcoming solicits like the following aren’t going to make me hold my breath for a glimmer of excellence.
X-MEN FOREVER #15 & 16
Written by CHRIS CLAREMONT
Penciled by PETER VALE (#15) & TBA (#16)
Cover by TOM GRUMMETT
GREAT JUMPING ON POINT…the fate of PERFECT STORM! The last time we saw Storm, she was fleeing from the X-Men, having blinded Sabretooth and killed Logan. Now, we turn our focus to Wakanda to see what became of the evil clone of the woman that the X-Men loved and trusted. ALSO: new two-part story starting with Issue 16 as CHRIS CLAREMONT continues his landmark run on X-MEN FOREVER! Don’t miss a single panel! Plus, an extra feature detailing a timeline of what other Marvel Universe stories were occurring during the current X-Men Forever saga!
#15 – 40 PGS./Rated A …$3.99
#16 – 32 PGS./Rated A …$3.99
Tom Grummett is certainly a capable artist and I have read that Claremont enjoys collaborating with him. However, Grummett’s art, while serviceable, doesn’t excite me. I find his figures to be pretty standard, lacking a sense of pizzaz. Costume design is rather generic as the above image represents. This Storm must be pretty evil as she’s wearing hand me downs from Captain Universe. It doesn’t bode well that the artist for #16 is To Be Announced. Hopefully Paul Smith will pick up the pencil for a few more issues, but even his art has been more than a bit loose for my taste. I was willing to drink from the well of super-scribe Claremont, but in regards to this series at least, the well seems a bit shallow.
I miss this Storm (words by Claremont and art by Cockrum). Fierce, determined, and fueled by naivete and outrage. This is a character worth reading about with no need of clones or alignment changes to make her interesting.
The page above comes from the Classic X-Men reprint series and is drawn by Dave Cockrum. It was inserted in between pages 3 and 4 of Uncanny X-Men #104. I always love seeing the human touches on original art pages even if it’s just the series title and page numbers. It’s a glimpse of the magic behind the scenes that makes the art process relatable. I find it inspirational. Part of me wishes that Claremont had run with a Logan and Ororo romance in X-Men Forever. What other place could this relationship be properly explored? And Banshee’s alive in this alternate reality! Hopefully he’ll return to the team, but I highly doubt it. He was briefly seen at Wolverine’s funeral, but he was canoodling with Moira MacTaggert. I’m still going to keep reading X-Men Forever, but I hope the series tightens up its cast and plotlines. This book has the enviable position to explore new territory with some of the most interesting characters in comics. I hope it gets around to it.