As promised... here's my review of a certain comic book collection featuring a well-known mutant superhero team.
X-Men Forever picks up where Chris Claremont left off after his 30+ year run on the Uncanny X-Men comic book. Forever proves that his departure may not have been an entirely bad thing. In the first six issues of the book* (collected into this handy dandy trade paperback), Storm beings acting increasingly out of character (mostly by being belligerent and peeved at, well EVERYBODY) until she’s finally revealed… as EVIL! And not just your typical kind of evil, but she’s working with some weird evil organization we’ve never really heard of. And Jean Grey tries to read their minds, but obviously can’t. Speaking of Jean… she’s back to crushing on Wolverine, and the two share some awkwardly tender moments at the beginning of the story. This is weird, since Jean is still dating Scott. X-Men Forever takes place before Jean and Scott get married, but Jean suddenly desiring Logan kind of comes out of nowhere. Nightcrawler and Shadowcat have rejoined the X-Men, too… which kind of makes no sense. I guess the decided to quit Excalibur for… why? Are we even really given a reason? I think Kurt says they just left. The Gold and Blue teams have essentially been dissolved off-panel, and several of the X-Men (particularly ones from the Gold Team; Archangel, Colossus, Iceman, and newcomer Bishop… where you at?) have seemingly disappeared for no reason. Claremont’s excitement at pressing this new story forward doesn’t translate into a story the veers off from the original storyline. Every X-Man is so out of character, especially Jean Grey and, in particular Storm, that this almost reads like an X-Men story that takes place in the Bizarro World.
Oh, and Storm’s biggest evil act? Is killing Wolverine. With lightening. All that’s left is his adamantium bones. And if that isn’t confusing enough, the younger version of Storm that hung out with Gambit when he first appeared is suddenly back, casting doubt that the adult Storm, who’s all Wolverine-killing and being evil, is the Storm that we know and love. I guess she’s just… not. I can’t even pretend to be interested in this element of the story, as it’s more confusing than mysterious. Also, following Wolvie’s death, Kitty Pryde gets a “Wolverine Claw” appendage, but naturally it’s just one claw and it hurts every single time she “pops” it. This… makes absolutely no sense, but okay. Let’s go with it. In one of the few story elements that actually sort of makes sense, Nick Fury has set up shop with X-Men and is monitoring their activities. He also provides the X-Men with S.H.I.E.L.D. backup when necessary, which a lot of the X-Men resent. Nick Fury proves to be the voice of reason throughout the story, and makes a lot more sense than Charles Xavier does. I remember reading that Claremont wanted the “Shadow King Saga” to end with Xavier’s death (in fact, if you read it… it almost is as if Xavier dies at the end of story). Claremont’s inability to write Xavier shows a lot in Forever. Xavier would prove to be one of the most interesting X-Men in later years for me, especially with Scott Lobdell and other writers who followed Claremont up.
X-Men Forever proves to be ultimately disappointing (we didn't even GET TO Sabertooth's convoluted inclusion on the team). What happened in the Marvel Universe proper was what got me to fall in love with the X-Men. I can’t believe that what happens in Forever is how Claremont would have progressed with the title, since it essentially would have ruined the X-Men, if you’ll forgive the pun, … forever.
*a “book” is comic book nerd slang for an ongoing comic book title. Thus, X-Men Forever and Uncanny X-Men, two ongoing comic titles that are published monthly by Marvel Comics, are called “books” for short. Yeah, I don’t get it, either, but I’m used to calling it that so you should, too.