Collects X-Men Forever vol.2 issues 1-5
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Rodney Buchemi, Greg Adams, Tom Grummett, Cory Hamscher
The new volume starts with a bang! Avengers (Captain America, Thor, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye) have been tasked with arresting the X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and li’ ‘Ro) and Sabertooth who is blind and has just one hand. Not surprisingly, the X-Men resist. During the fight, Xavier’s mansion explodes and supposedly kills the X-Men and Fury along with a small number of SHIELD agents inside the mansion.
The next issue starts six week later. The world apparently mourns the heroes and the US government sends sentinels to sift through the rubble in order to find out what happened. Avengers are seen as the villains this time and Sigrid Trask is appointed the new leader of SHIELD. Spider-Man also investigates in his own way.
In the third issue we find out that the X-Men are alive: they’re inside the mansion which has been cloaked with very advanced tech. However, Rogue has left the mansion and gone to the city to kick some muggers’ asses. Spidey finds her and they clobber some villains together. However, the night ends in surprise when Mystique wants to join.
In the next issue, Morlocks have kidnapped Sabertooth and Dr. MacTaggert. They know about Burnout and want Moira to whip up a cure for them. They torture Sabertooth in order to motive Moira. The X-Men send a team to the tunnels: Shadowcat, Cyclops, Gambit, and SHIELD agent Daisy Dugan. Li’ ‘Ro is following them, too, even though she was told to stay behind. Meanwhile, back in the mansion, everyone except Kurt is suspicious about Mystique and Fury wants to interrogate her fully. However, her twisty mind is too much for even Jean to figure out. The X-Men will have to find out the old-fashioned way if she can be trusted.
Unfortunately, I felt that the Avengers acted out of character: going against friends because they’ve been ordered to and Cap attacking first? That doesn’t really feel like the Avengers I know. Otherwise, this was quite an enjoyable collection and I felt that Claremont got his groove back.
The X-Men as a group have died before and they’ve done that pretty recently, according to the time line so it’s a classic Claremont plot twist. The first time was in Dallas when Storm had just regained her powers and the second time the group went through the Siege Perilous while Ororo was thought to be dead. Interestingly enough out of this group only Rogue has “died” both times before and Ororo once, in Dallas. (Gambit wasn’t yet part of the group, Jean and Scott were in X-Factor, and Kurt and Kitty in Britain.)
I also really liked the return of Morcloks. They’re another classic mutant group which is sometimes antagonists and sometimes reluctant allies, depending on who is leading them. Masque is their leader this time so they’re enemies.
Claremont has also several subplots in the air: Mr. Sinister is after Nathan, Daisy is falling for Sabertooth, Rogue’s and Kurt’s power shift, Storm’s situation and the SHIELD situation. Feels like old times again!