Before I get started, let me iterate or reiterate a constant in our consumer-based universe. No one is required to like anything marketed to them. It is not the obligation of the customer to accept a product. It’s the manufacturer’s job to convince the customer. That’s how business works. Last I checked, the comic book industry is a business.
People are allowed to like or dislike anything that is presented to them. The customer’s response will be dictated by the product’s appeal and its presentation. So far, how Marvel’s latest offering Children of the Atom (CotA) has presented itself, has been less than forthcoming.
I’m not here to complain about a product I have no experience with. With that said, being a 30+ year reader of the X-Men franchise, I can say wholeheartedly, that this book doesn’t make any sense. At least not in any way that’s been clearly – or unclearly – described to me, the fan.
I don’t think that it’s a secret that I thoroughly enjoyed the Jonathan Hickman written House of X/ Powers of X summer event. The Dawn of X era that has followed has also been a success from a sales point of view. Not a popular sentiment on this blog – but I like most of what’s been put out in the past few months.
Outside of Excalibur (please kill it with fire) and Fallen Angels, I’ve enjoyed the current run of X-Men. When CotA was announced, like everyone else, I was a bit concerned and a lot confused. I didn’t know much about the writer Vita Ayala, and her description of the book sounded like nonsense.
The X-Men have sidekicks? How, why? If they needed to take under-studies, why these strange knock-off characters? Ayala described her team as ‘growing up with posters of Storm and Cyclops on their walls.’ Any reader worth their salt knows that that just doesn’t compute. It’s not possible.
There’s no point in the X-Men main timeline that they’ve been seen as anything more than myths, terrorists, or at best, an extremist group by the general public. The only group of youngsters capable of idolizing them is those that know who they are; The New Mutants, Generation-X, New X-Men or those from the JGS academy.
Even with everything I know – I didn’t want to write it off immediately. To this day, I still hope CotA is an elseworld story about the first generation of Chimera we somewhat learned about in Powers of X #1. In Moira’s 9th life she helped create a mutant resistance alongside Apocalypse.
Their main fighting force consisted of genetically engineered soldiers created by Mister Sinister. The first generation of these troops which carried only one power-set was derogatorily labeled “fodder.” The name aptly described their shelf life and overall importance. Later generations were more powerful, but harder to produce.
My first thought of these “mini” X-Men was that they had to be that first generation of Chimera described to us. It piqued my interest. With little information being floated out about the series – I figured that this may be ‘bait and switch’ situation. Shock value. The book isn’t being written by Jonathan Hickman, but he does oversee the franchise.
Hyping readers up about what’s going on in one hand, while concealing the other, is exactly how he operates. The problem with this approach is the condition of the market. It can’t handle misleading storylines and lackluster books right now. Readers are far too reactionary at the moment – and rightfully so.
We’ve had to put up with our favorite characters being sidelined, maligned and misrepresented for the sake of ham-fisted social commentary for years. And not the clever kind that writers have snuck into the plot for the past half-century. Obvious, lopsided, nonsensical trite that does nothing but divide the readership.
If I’m not mistaken, Marvel has published two articles and a video about CotA – and I’m still struggling to grasp its real motivations. The more they talk about it, the less certain I am that this book stands a chance. However, looking at the video, there’s a scene with Apocalypse in the background along with a Krakoa portal.
If they are around Apocalypse and can use a portal, then they are at least mutants (sorry to you weirdos that thought they were humans using some lame cosplaying super-suits). The odds of a group of teenaged mutants that have identical powersets to existing mutants they aren’t related to are… remote, to say the least.
It all just doesn’t click any other way. There’d be no way else to take this seriously and to be honest, I think they’ve already poisoned their well. And even if I’m 100% right, the market is turned off and I doubt the readers are willing to give it chance – and that’s all Marvel’s fault.
Their product is confusing and only appeals to a small niche of boot-lickers that will do nothing but praise them and insult their detractors in hopes of being given access via podcast appearances and a 5-minute con interview. Luckily, we don’t do that here.