Sunday, December 09, 2007

X-Axis comments thread - 9 December 2007

This week: Ultimate X-Men #88, which is notionally the epilogue to "Sentinels"; What If? X-Men - Rise & Fall of the Shi'ar Empire (yes, that's really the full title); Northlanders #1, which is Vikings from Vertigo; and Ultimates 3 #1, which is just plain horrible.

- Not a rhetorical question: when was the last time Jeph Loeb wrote something that wasn't ungodly awful? Because his last four projects, as far as I can remember, were Ultimates 3 (unreadable), Wolverine's Evolution story (unreadable), the closing issues of Ultimate Power (miserable) and Onslaught Reborn (unreadable).

- I read with interest that J Michael Straczynski has effectively disowned "One More Day", claiming that he considered taking his name off the final two chapters but felt that would screw up Marvel's plans. This could, of course, be another publicity stunt, but it would be a very odd one.

It occurs to me that "One More Day" has many of the same problems as M-Day did. Assuming that the story is going in the direction we all think it is, it's not necessarily a horrible idea - if it's the start of a storyline that's intended to come full circle and cancel itself out. In other words, if they do a story where the marriage is broken up but hey, they overcome and get together in the end... well, that could work. The reason people hate this story so much, aside from the execution, is that they believe it's going to stick (at least for as long as Joe Quesada is still around).

The same could have been said about M-Day. But by all appearances, M-Day wasn't intended as the start of a new storyline - after all, the writers spent the next year and a half studiously ignoring it as much as they possibly could. I suspect OMD is probably in the same category. Quesada has figured out a change he wants to make; he's identified something which is vaguely story-shaped to get there; and he hasn't really thought through the implications of where that story logically ought to lead.

The tortuous ethics and marketplace positioning of Quesada's Spider-Man stories are becoming fascinating in their own right. Married Spider-Man? Bad. Divorced Spider-Man? Bad. Widowed Spider-Man? Bad. Spider-Man with magical curse arising from voluntary deal with Satan? Good! Relatable! Morally acceptable!

I actually feel kind of bad for the incoming writers who have to deal with this mess, as they've got a lot of talent and deserve the opportunity. But the set-up isn't going to do them any favours.