It's pretty easy to understand why many LGBT geeks are drawn to the X-Men and their long-standing crusade for acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence. The parallels between the plight of Marvel's mutant characters and the LGBT community are undeniable. As an avid fan of the characters and stories, I found it fitting to ring in the new year with a reflection on 2014's memorable exploits of the Children of the Atom. Here they are... the good, the bad, and the questionable:
Danger is horny; attempts fornication with members of X-Factor
The X-Men's Danger Room first gained its sentience back in Joss Whedon's run of Astonishing X-Men. Since that time, she has carried on as both an occasional adversary and, more often, teammate for various X-teams. Following the abandonment of Utopia and the end of her career as warden for the island's prison, Danger resurfaced in the pages of Peter David's All New X-Factor. It is here where she begins to take a higher interest in the machinations of what it means to be human. One of her first priorities is to experience copulation, first-hand. After she is rebuffed by her ideal mate, Warlock, she then attempts to schtupp some of the other members of the team.
Anole is terrorized by Lady Mastermind; still lands date with Chelsea twink
I have always been a fan of self-contained issues (see the Magma/Mephisto date issue of New Mutants). 2014 gave us Amazing X-Men ˆ#13, written by James Tynion IV and pencilled by Jorge Jiménez. Here we see the young X-Man, Anole, dealing with the perils of dating in the face of potential discrimination. As he battles his inner demons, X-foe, Regan Wyngarde (a.k.a. the vodka-swilling, Lady Mastermind), takes advantage to wreak a little havoc on the lad. The story addresses the very real prejudices that people face with regards to both physical appearance and sexuality. With appearances by Northstar and Nightcrawler along with a scene that perfectly captures the "bff" relationship between Anole and Rockslide, it is no wonder why this was one of my favorite issues of the year.
As they say in fashion, "One day you're in..."
Kristafer Anka is one of my favorite artists in the biz at the moment. For the most part, his costume redesigns have been fantastic (see Monet's sporty new ensemble and Madelyne Pryor's "Alexis Carrington meets Goblin Queen" executive power bitch suit). Cut to (that pun was not intended but it stays) Dazzler's shredded new punk rock look in Brian Michael Bendis' Uncanny X-Men. To say the redesign was polarizing amongst fans would be an understatement. While most readers agree that Ms. Blaire was due for a costume update and her recent emotional trauma at the hands of Mystique seemed as good a time as any to break out the sewing machine, the final look caused a lot of fans to throw a mean side-eye. The ripped turtleneck dress that the former disco queen is now wearing comes off as a bit impractical and uninspired. One has to wonder how much editorial meddling was involved in Anka's creation.
"End of Greys" gets an epilogue.
In 2006, Chris Claremont gave us one of the most emotionally devastating stories in Uncanny X-Men. End of Greys centered on Rachel Grey's official introduction to the 616 counterparts of her family. Unbeknownst to her, the Shi'ar had targeted the Grey genome for extermination due to its previous ability to host the Phoenix Force. Almost the entire family was violently wiped out in a single issue in front of Rachel's eyes. Despite Rachel's later spending time in space and interacting with the Shi'ar during The Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire and Kingbreaker, the tragedy depicted in End of Greys was never addressed. 2014 saw Marc Guggenheim take the helm of X-Men for a four-issue arc, following Brian Wood's departure. The story sees Storm and her team travel to space to take on an army of gene-spliced aliens that have been tracking the sometimes-Empress of the Shi'ar Empire, Deathbird. During the skirmish, Rachel comes face-to-face with the man who plotted the strike against her family and, when all is said and done, is finally given some sort of closure regarding the past's tragic events.
Emma Frost has a glorious reaction to the ridiculousness of Xavier's dirty little secret.
Brian Michael Bendis, as great a writer as he is, has a tendency to drag various storylines on to the point of no one caring anymore. I've lost count as to how long The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier arc in Uncanny X-Men has been dragging on for. One reader (me) joked on Twitter that it was no wonder that She-Hulk has been cancelled since it has taken Jennifer Walters months just to get through reading this damned document. All is not so bad, though. Without this never-ending story, we would not have been treated to Emma Frost's fantastic and completely appropriate reaction to learning that Xavier had married Mystique.
In "WTF?" News: Exodus joins S.H.I.E.L.D.
Bennet Du Paris (the mutant known as Exodus) first appeared during X-Factor's run during the 90s and would replace Fabian Cortez as Magneto's right-hand Acolyte. Following the events of Messiah Complex he chose not to join his former teammates, Amelia Voght, Frenzy, and Random in relocating to San Francisco. After his attack on the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, Exodus mysteriously showed up in the employ of S.H.I.E.L.D. Wha? Huh? Yes, this is the proper reaction to anyone reading Bendis' Uncanny X-Men #25 where Bennet uses his telepathy to contact the newly awakened, omega-level mutant, Matthew Malloy. No reasons were given for this unbelievable turn of events, but we DID get several panels of Matthew Malloy floating in a crater... doing nothing. Perhaps some of this wasted space could have been donated to explaining Exodus' motives for working with "the enemy". Frankly, the only thing that would have gotten him to become a turncoat would be if Maria Hill had offered him Wanda Maximoff's head on a platter. (Side bar: How FABULOUS is Exodus' real name?!)
Some folks call it nothing but a marketing ploy. Others see it as a much needed relief from the over-saturation of Wolverine in the Marvel line. In any case, 2014 saw the death of Logan in a four-part story that concluded with the longtime X-man encased in adamantium. With no healing factor, this looked like the end for Wolverine. But, who are we kidding? He is Marvel's cash cow and, whether or not this was meant as a symbolic middle finger to Fox (remember, they own the cinematic rights to the X-Men characters), Logan is bound to reappear sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Sabretooth, X-23, Daken, Mystique, and Lady Deathstrike will be taking up the fallen furball's mantle in the new Wolverines title.
That girl who is not Tempo get's a good story.
Heather Tucker (a.k.a. Tempo) was a mutant with the ability to manipulate time and a member of both the Mutant Liberation Front and the Acolytes. She would meet her demise during the Age of X story just as readers discovered that she had been in a relationship with X-Force's Feral (Seriously, where the hell was THAT story?!). Some fans cried foul when a new character was introduced in Brian Michael Bendis' current run of Uncanny X-Men whose powers were remarkably similar to the deceased Tempo. While not the most original character ever created, Eva Bell has proven to be one of the more memorable mutants to be introduced in the latest relaunch of Uncanny. During a training exercise in Tabula Rasa, Eva blinked out of the present time and returned moments later having aged several years. Fans never knew what happened until the two-part arc that crossed between the annual issues of both Uncanny X-Men and All New X-Men. Beautifully illustrated, the story shows Eva traveling to the future, the past, and back again. The lovely and tragic tale deals with growth and loss and adds a fantastic layer of depth to Ms. Bell.
Alpha Flight in Amazing X-Men.
The greatest team of Marvel d-listers (they will always be a-listers in my heart) made their return to the fray in the World War Wendigo arc of Craig Kyle and Chris Yost's Amazing X-Men. Kyle and Yost have a reputation for brutally killing off characters in their storylines (see New X-Men's bus explosion) and, after witnessing the vicious attacks on Vindicator and Talisman during the opening issues of the story, it didn't look good for our Canadian heroes. Nevertheless, the story proved quite entertaining if only for seeing the X-Men and Alpha Flight team up to deal with the Wendigo curse that runs rampant across Canada. Inarguably, the highlights of the story were the interactions between Northstar and Aurora who haven't really been seen together since the former's wedding in Astonishing X-Men #51. As I've stated before, character limbo is not worthy of a gem like Aurora.
The latest drama with the Maximoff twins.
I am staunchly part of the camp that believes the Marvel Cinematic Universe should reflect its comic book predecessors and not vice-versa (CBR's Brett White sums up my feelings perfectly in this article). Afterall, without the comics, there would be NO Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be well aware that the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron film will feature both the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Unfortunately, due to Fox holding the rights to Marvel's mutant characters, the MCU will have to introduce them as something else (presumably Inhumans). Avengers and X-Men: AXIS #7 revealed that the long-held belief that Magneto fathered the Maximoff twins is false. While it is too early to speculate (not really) about what this might imply for the characters, it is very convenient that the twins are facing a retcon in the comic books just as their non-mutant counterparts are being introduced onscreen.
Lila Cheney parties like it's 1980-something.
What Kelly Sue DeConnick has been dishing out in the pages of Captain Marvel has been nothing short of magical. If you aren't reading it, please consider yourself judged. Longtime pal and occasional teammate of the X-Men, Lila Cheney, recently crossed paths with Carol Danvers in the depths of outerspace. What transpired from there was an epic tribute to the 80s and everything that made it the era of over-the-top decadence. The Captain Marvel anniversary issue followed this "fairy tale rock opera". Readers were able to catch up with some of the unresolved plotlines from prior to Carol's adventures in orbit. In the end, Lila was kind enough to teleport Carol home in time for Christmas. And it's tough to deny that there are few places as fantastic as New York City during the holidays.
Storm's solo series.
Greg Pak has given us some great reads in the last few years (see Alpha Flight vol. 4 and the Dazzler-led X-Treme X-Men). Needless to say, lightning has struck gold with his new Storm solo series. Finally, the mistress of all the elements has landed her own ongoing title and it's been a fantastic ride thus far. We've already seen our mohawked goddess cross paths with old acquaintances Forge, Yukio, and Callisto. Fans who have clamored for this title undoubtedly have their fingers crossed for a strong continuation for the title in 2015.
What were your most memorable X-moments of 2014. Feel free to sound off in the comments.
Follow Shaun N. on Twitter at @datura1979.