When “X-Men Forever” was announced, there was part of me that was intrigued. As someone who started reading the X-books in the early 90s, a continuation of Claremont’s run, starting from that point, had a lot of nostalgic appeal. What we’ve ended up with isn’t really what was promised -- but it’s fair to say, it’s still pretty entertaining.
The central conceit of “X-Men Forever” was quite rapidly ditched, and Claremont has concentrated on spinning new stories instead of continuing old ones. Issue #5 brings the first storyline to a rather abrupt end as the mutant race is given a dramatic new development that, all hyperbole aside, alters the X-Men’s central concept on a fundamental level. It’s a sign that Claremont still has plenty of ideas worth exploring and, it seems, that in “X-Men Forever” Marvel has finally found an appropriate venue for them.
Rarely for a Claremont book, this works rather well on a technical level. While his titles have often felt over-written and dated, here he manages to turn that into an advantage. There’s an appropriately old-school feel to the pacing and exposition, and something pleasantly familiar about the way sub-plots weave in and out of the book after becoming a virtual lost art in today’s long-term, trade-focussed storylines. It took a while to get going, but as of this issue, we can emphatically say that “X-Men Forever” is working, against the odds.
As ever, Tom Grummett’s artwork is a large part of that. He’s no Jim Lee, but he’s a strong storyteller in his own right, and his costumes designs are very appropriate for the era -- Jean’s new Phoenix-inspired look in particular -- and from the cover, it appears the rest of the cast will be getting an overhaul shortly as well.
It probably depends on how much of an X-Men nostalgist you are, but “X-Men Forever” is somehow managing to pull its weight on a level beyond being the Obligatory Chris Claremont Book. If you haven’t checked it out already, it’s certainly worth a look.