Since the site’s just back to me and Seb, rather than do the whole “awards” thing like we have the previous two years, we’re just going to pick our favourite 10 comics (mostly in no particular order) and briefly give them a write-up explaining why we think they succeeded this year. We make no claims that this is a definitive list, and we certain’y haven’t read everything released this year – but this is what we enjoyed, and why. The posts start today and will hopefully run every day until the end of the month, when we’ll reveal our favourite comic of the year. Enjoy!
In many ways, the X-Men line is more diverse than it’s been in years. Almost every book has a distinct purpose and identity (with the possible exception of the vanilla X-Men title) and to me, X-Men Legacy is the one that recaptures the spirit of Claremont’s X-Men. While Uncanny X-Men focuses on the bigger name characters, and concentrates on telling the long-form arc that the rest of the titles hang off, X-Men Legacy is telling discrete, character-focused arcs that span the width and breadth of the X-Men universe, slowly building its subplots and taking the time to flesh out characters that have been hanging around in the background for years without much focus of their own.
The year started with a 3-issue Necrosha-X crossover (#231-#233) that actually stood alone quite convincingly. Proteus, back from the dead, versus a small group of X-Men, some of whom we haven’t seen much of in years – Husk, for example. Classic villains are a little thin on the ground lately, so it was good to see the return of both Proteus and Destiny. The arc also re-introduced Magneto, who had joined Utopia in Uncanny X-Men. This set the stage for #234 to clarify the current status of Rogue’s personal life (re: potential romances with Gambit and Magneto) as well as show Rogue using her powers to help the X-Kids, and start to spin out a plot involving Indra’s developing powers and his attitude towards them. #235-#237 were part of the second coming crossover, while #238-#241 return to Indra’s developing powers and move the character forward in big ways, as well as bringing back the Children of the Vault – some of Carey’s own villains – and making something a bit more distinct out of their motivations and status quo.
As you can tell, from the synopses above, there’s nothing especially epic about Carey’s run – no one moment that made me think “this, hands down, is the best X-Book” – but what it lacks in showmanship, it makes up for with consistency and content. Unlike any other writer, Carey seems able to exploit continuity as a springboard for new stories without forgetting to make his tale stand alone. His work could almost be called damage control – ever since the start of his Legacy run, he’s picked stories that need to be addressed and patched them up with care and attention that could only be delivered by someone who loves the stories they’re addressing. That, I suspect, is what makes X-Men Legacy so fun for me to read (although it doesn’t hurt that the central character, Rogue, is also one of my favourite X-Men).
Next year, X-Men Legacy spearheads the “Age of X” mini-crossover, which I’m not massively sold on – it seems like yet another riff on Days of Future Part/Age of Apocalypse, which the X-Books have done over and over. Also, it’ll be the title’s fourth crossover in 20 issues (from Utopia, which happened in #226/#227, to Age of X, which starts in #245), and that’s not a good sign that this book is doing well under its own steam. Carey’s overarching concept seems designed specifically to appeal to long-time X-Men fans, so it’s worrying that it needs propping up so often. Aren’t we supposed to be the core, die-hard fans? Perhaps it’ll survive in this manner, perhaps not – but either way, it’s been a good year for this, probably the quietest, least-hyped of the X-Books, and one that’s been a consistently enjoyable since it began.