Welcome back to Strange Times & Places, where today we’re looking in on the non-powered world of X-Men Noir #1-4.
How’s It Different?
It’s an Imaginary Story, recasting Marvel’s Merry Mutants in a world inspired equally by noir films and pulp novels. Instead of philosophically opposed genetic mutations warring for world peace, we’ve got juvenile delinquents facing off with corrupt cops for control of New York’s underworld.
What’s The Story?
Then: Warren Worthington III was patient at the Xavier School for Exceptionally Wayward Youth, an alleged reformatory for juvenile delinquents. When he took a swan dive off the roof, it revealed the school was actually teaching these delinquents – all diagnosed sociopaths – how to better use their criminal skills because Charles Xavier believes sociopaths to be the next evolutionary step in humankind’s development. The school was shut down, Xavier jailed, and his remaining students go into hiding.
Now: Jean Grey, one of Xavier’s former students, washes up dead. Erik Magnus, together with his Brotherhood of corrupt policemen, compete with the vigilante known as The Angel to locate the rest of Xavier’s students and unravel what exactly happened to Jean – the latter to get justice for her, the former to gain control of a talented team of criminals-for-hire.
Best of Differences
- Cyclops wears his trademark red shades to cover his literally having one eye. Despite this handicap, he’s still an excellent marksman.
- Iceman’s name comes from his emotionless demeanor, which is both lazy and well chosen (since IRL criminals have earned the same nickname the same way).
- Beast’s overly obscure and flowery vocabulary becomes a series of malaprops here, since he’s no longer a scientific genius but a common street thug.
- Obscure Timely Comics hero The Angel already had a kind of pulp-y vibe to him, and having him take the place of the X-Men’s traditional Angel is a nice touch to the Noir universe.
- Minor mutant baddie Unus The Untouchable’s name takes on a very different context when applied to crime boss, and that’s taken full advantage of.
- Jean Grey and Rogue (named Anne-Marie Rankin, combining Rogue’s “real name” with the last name of fellow X-Man Mimic) have clever takes on their powers: Jean has the ability to read people so well that she can effectively “get in” head while Anne-Marie takes on the traits of anyone she spends enough time with.