Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Wow, all this Messiah War stuff is kind of intriguing. Actually, for a really hardcore X-fan like yours truly, the fact that so many older X-Men themes and characters have been popping up -future timelines, genetic manipulation, Cable, Stryfe, Bishop, Sinister- ahh. Good times. Well, okay, I admit there’s a little bit of a mixed blessing going on here. For starters, there are so many former X-Men anti-heroes now that it’s a little hard to keep track. What the hell is going on with Gambit, for example? Okay, I know he has this dark past with Sinister, and I know things with Gambit and Rogue are perpetually tragic (Claremont threw in a nice bizarre touch with Mystique- read Bizarre Love Triangle), but I just don’t buy him going back to the Marauders. I mean, yes, he’s kind of the ‘inside man’ in this case, keeping an eye on Sinister so that the dirty work Sinister does isn’t too dirty. But Jesus, isn’t it time to bring our boy home? Wouldn’t it be cool to see a new X-Men lineup with Gambit on the cover? That’s the problem with dramatic tension- sometimes it reaches a point where I think even the writers don’t quite now how to resolve it. It’s cool, once in a while, to take a character off the team- preferably after a painful romantic breakup and some difficult moral or personal quandary comes to light. Than, after twenty to thirty issues of soul searching, cameos, and what not- they come back. Triumphantly. It’s that whole ‘hero’s journey’ kind of thing. Like when Ben Grimm left the Fantastic Four in the 80’s. I do think She-Hulk was a cool stand-in. But when you finally got to that issue with the ‘Four’ putting their hands in together, you thought ‘YES, finally’! Well, you see, now- Gambit has been tortured by Wolverine, tried to kill Cable, tried to hand the newest born mutant infant (‘Hope’ Summers) over to Sinister…it just goes on. Too many writers, too many incidents…will the character ever recover from this, I wonder? And Bishop- oh man, don’t get me started on Bishop. There was ten minutes at the end of the last decade where Bishop was my favorite X-Man (okay, that was a figurative ten minutes- it was more like two years or so). The fact that he was ‘time displaced’ just made him such a cool, weird character. How frickin’ awesome was it during Onslaught when Bishop got to that moment from his future where all of the X-Men die, but he launches himself in front of Xavier’s blast and mumbles something like ‘but dreams never die’ and passes out? So yeah, Bishop. Very cool, very different X-Man. So what the hell happened? Well, he got lost in space, ended up somewhat romantically involved with Deathbird (YES, Deathbird, Lillandra’s rival to the Shi’ar empire’s throne), somehow came out pro-registration during Civil War, and now wants to kill Hope Summers. Okay, to be fair, I think the strange tension between Bishop’s future and Cable’s future is really interesting. Actually, I don’t think they were ever meant to be mutually conflicting ones- Cable’s future is way, way off from Bishop’s. And, in a sense, Bishop’s future might have to happen the way it did for Cable’s future to happen the way it did. But ultimately, the issue doesn’t really come down to the future and the way that it should or should not be (hell, Cable’s future wasn’t exactly a picnic- nothing he’d want to keep the way that it was, anyway). It’s really just: is it right to kill a child, whatever the future may bring? Well, Bishop seems to think so. Now, again, I can see that, what with sentinels and mutant concentration camps...who wouldn’t want to stop that? Is the life of the one kid worth the millions who are going to die if things unfold the way they did in Bishop’s timeline? But it’s the lengths that he goes to that just seem so out of character, to me. Suddenly he’s vicious, manipulative, almost without regard for anything in his way. Is it really the same guy? God, when X-Force first started that was really Cable’s shtick. None of this ‘bonding with my father from the past’ stuff- Cable had this hardcore ‘Xavier’s approach doesn’t work’ philosophy and pulled the New Mutants out from under Xavier’s nose to start prepping the mutant race for war (well, war to maintain peace, anyway). Now, not bitching about Cable here. I’ve always loved Cable, no matter how ridiculously complex the character and his story may be. Personally, I always thought that the seeming original intention in X-Cutioner’s Song was to introduce the idea that Stryfe was really Cyclops and Jean Grey’s time-lost son from the future and that Cable was HIS clone- not the other way around. The final lines in that saga make so much more sense, if that was the case. At one point Cable screams something like ‘I’m a man! I’m my OWN man!’ I would have loved it, actually, if Cable and Stryfe were just obliterated at the end of that comic and it just ends on that note of Cyclops going ‘I’ll always wonder’ or whatever it is. But, you know, the fans dug X-Force and by extension, Cable. And as things played out, somewhere the writers decided the make him the real deal and Stryfe the clone. But I digress. I like Cable. My point is that X-Men characters- especially those that are popular in the comic but under-represented in other media (games, movies, etc.) have this nasty tendency of veering off course. Maybe there’s just too many of them (of course, that’s why the comic is so interesting to begin with). But I have seen one too many really excellent characters of the last twenty years disappear only to reappear in forms I don’t even recognize. Here’s another one, while we’re on the subject- Generation X. What happened? One second, this was the most innovative, intelligent, interesting comic Marvel was writing. The next? I don’t even know. I think Everett might have died, M makes cameos here and there, Page is hooking up with Archangel these days, Chamber got some cyborg parts to fill out the big hole in his body, I think?...and Jubilee. Jubilee is on the New Warriors. Remember Jubilee? Yeah, you think people would, right? I mean, she was kind of thick and thin with the X-Men and Wolverine for a long time. She kind of brought the whole thing in, really, I think. She was so human. Okay…Psylocke. Wow. I can’t even go there right now. It gives me a headache. Still, there are a couple of die-hard writers out there that don’t let the good ones go. I really like Joss Whedon’s lineup. Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Colossus. I mean, that was the X-Men I grew up with. That was really the first team that got super-popular too- Storm, Wolvie, Kitty, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Rogue. When was the last time you saw them in a comic together, right? For what it’s worth, Whedon gets close. Well, if I had my way, I wouldn’t give up on any X-character. They’d all get their due. And granted, that would probably be way, way too many characters. But I can’t help it, I grew up at a time when X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine, X-Force, AND X-Factor were all books you could buy, running concurrently and constantly referencing each other. It was a little much, I admit- but hey, if you wanted something that was simple, would you really be reading X-Men anyway? I mean, c’mon, we love the crazy at X-Men. Let’s admit it. But all I’m saying is- let’s be careful where we’re going with it, okay? Before we write something everybody regrets?