What if we couldn’t love? What if the whole concept was verboten? No touching. No intimacy. No connection.
That was one of the key concepts that Age of X-Man explored in the months before Jonathan Hickman took over the world of the X-Men in a big way.
Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men
Writers: Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson
Artists: Marco Faila, Ramon Rosanas
The Marvelous X-Men was the key book for the concept, and the series was just compiled, alongside Alpha and Omega single issues that bookended the entire run. The delivery is very much in line with the classic “cancel the comics and rename” event series Age of Apocalypse that happened back in 1995. I remember collecting the core books and salivating at just how dark things had become for our Merry Mutants when Apocalypse took over North America. It’s that event that introduced us to Nate Grey, the titular X-Man who in this new event has remade the world into one where mutants are the only species in a seemingly perfect world.
Of course, when are things ever perfect?
Those that break the main tenet of no physical love disappear and their memories are erased from the world. A band of mutants led by Apocalypse himself, preaching love, has begun riling up the world and Nate and his X-Men are determined to end En Sabah Nur’s cult of love (and that’s not my subtle way of referencing a great Web of Spider-Man three-parter from the late 1980s).
In many ways, Age of X-Man is classic crossover/takeover storytelling. Familiar characters act “sort of” like themselves, though powerful leaders such as Magneto and Storm feel a little too neutered in their roles. The story puts the returned Jean Grey front and centre, but again, she’s not quite the character we’ve known and loved and only just recently welcomed back. Writers Nadler and Tompson do their best work, in my humble opinion, with Colossus, who is determined to follow the letter of the law until memories of his own lost love have him doubting himself and his beliefs. Colossus has always been one of the purest, noble X-Men, which make him ripe for having his soul torn apart, which happens in The Marvelous X-Men.
Age of X-Man: NextGen
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
There were a variety of books set in the Age of X-Man world, including NextGen, where students at the Summers Institute for Higher Learning go to begin preparation for their lives as adult mutants. Unfortunately for Glob, his mutation allows him to remember the world around him, regardless of how it changes or if others are mindwiped. Brisson really nails this book, in large part because it doesn’t have to do the heavy lifting of moving the concept or resolution of the main story. Instead, he’s able to focus on character development and conflict. I can honestly tell you I’ve never been a big of Glob, but he worked as NextGen‘s main character.
With Jonathan Hickman’s massive and ambitious X-Men story now unfolding, only time will tell how Age of X-Man will stack up against other X-Men event series. For the curious though, and for those looking for mutant stories unencumbered by continuity, both the Marvelous X-Men and NextGen are decent reads.