Welcome back to Strange Times & Places, where we’re looking at a mutant-centric story in honor of The Gifted’s season finale last night – Chris Claremont’s X-Men Forever.
How’s It Different?
It’s a Royale With Cheese, where a bunch of little differences add up to create something very different, but it all stems from a real life For Want of a Nail scenario: what if Chris Claremont hadn’t left the X-Men in 1991? That concept lasted for 24 regular issues and an annual, along with sixteen additional issues of “X-Men Forever 2”, perhaps the most incomprehensible restart Marvel’s ever done.
What’s The Story?
Overall? The X-Men find themselves dealing with the idea that mutant powers will eventually burn out a human body, a Consortium of shadowy government & business types that want to hasten the death of mutantkind (what else is new), and an evil clone of Storm that has conquered Wakanda.
Best of Differences
- Claremont took a very bold step in killing off Wolverine – arguably the face of the X-Men franchise – in the title’s first issue. Not having to factor in anyone’s plans but his own let Claremont make some pretty drastic plays:
- Having Nightcrawler and Rogue switch powers (through admittedly contrived means) so they’d both share Mystique’s immunity to burn out.
- Adding Sabretooth to the X-Men, revealing that he’s Wolverine’s father, revealing that the Sabretooth leading the Marauders was a clone, and having his burning out healing factor leave him blind and missing a hand – but no less dangerous.
- Having Kitty Pryde gain toned-down versions of Wolverine’s powers, in addition to her own, due to phasing through him with overloaded powers.
- Beast, Tony Stark, Black Panther, and Havok all join Wolvie six feet under by the end of the second series.
- Sinister is made into the immortal little boy treating other people like playthings that Claremont intended him to be, and it works surprisingly well.
- Several of the redesigned costumes look really nifty, particularly Jean Grey’s Phoenix-meets-Xavier-School-Uniform number and Gambit’s classy suit & tie look.
Worst of Differences
- The plotline of Perfect Storm (evil Storm clone), ‘Ro (child version of Storm), and Ghost Panther (energy being version of adult Storm’s consciousnes
s) is pointlessly convoluted. Particularly silly as it ends with…adult Storm being restored to her normal self, like she seemed to be in X-Men Forever Alpha.
- Claremont felt it necessary to change Gambit’s last name to “Picard” from “LeBeau”, which may well have been his original plan but just feels unnecessary. Plus, it’s a pun.
- The transition from adjectiveless X-Men #3 (Claremont’s final 1991 issue, reprinted in X-Men Forever Alpha) to X-Men Forever #1 is a bit jarring: the X-Men lose about five members, pick up Shadowcat & Nightcrawler from Excalibur, and are no longer operating the “Blue” and “Gold strike forces, all with little to no explanation.
Come Back Next Week for an X-Men Scripting Error!