Welcome to a MARVEL LAKE HOUSE SPECIAL: From the Temporally Displaced Archives! Found these bits and bobs of stuff when cleaning up the Lakehouse after the Chronal-Displacement Coupler was repaired. Mostly things I read and wrote about during my hiatus and time away. Hope you enjoy it!
Tales from the Hydra Lakehouse:
So it’s event time again here at the Lakehouse. For the past month or so all of our favorite books from the House of Ideas suddenly have a certain chartreuse cephalopod on them. In the past, I’ve regularly skipped the events and either focused on a few standalone books or taken a break from Marvel altogether until the event is over. This time, however, in the interests of serving my loyal THN readers, I put in an effort to follow Secret Empire. I started with reading my usual books first, Spider-Man, Hawkeye, Daredevil, Champions and the new crop of X-Books, (which seem to be the only winners here, more on that later). Then I did some research and found a quasi-official reading order and settled in for the long haul.
As I attempted to muddle through the story, I came up with the perfect answer to how to read Secret Empire: Don’t.
Obviously, I’m saying this with some amount of tongue in cheek, but seriously, don’t read it. The core story to this event is a poorly planned, and even worse executed mess. The best way to endure this event, and I do mean endure is to keep reading the titles you enjoyed prior to the event, and treat any crossover or tie-in interruption as a What If?! or Exiles like alternate dimension thing. Because that’s the attitude required to find the hidden gems within this mess of an event. I’ll list some off, speed round style, give you my take.
– Doctor Strange 21, 22, and 23: The team-up with Spider-Woman, Ben Urich, and Kingpin has been fun.
– U.S. Avengers #7 and #8: Squirrel Girl Euro Avengers, ’nuff said.
– X-Men Gold #7 and #8: the introduction of the new X-Cutioner, the villain redo we never knew we wanted. This is less of a tie-in than it is an opportunity to tell a self-contained story while New York is in the dark. Fun X-Story without all the political intrigue of New Tian in the other books.
And that’s about it, I’ll do my best to keep slogging through it, and if any more gems come up, I’ll let you all know.
Tales from the Mutant Beach House:
So recently, the Lake House was temporarily relocated to a remote stretch of beach in south-western Mexico, near a small fishing village named Yelapa. Being a residence neither moored by space or time (according to Mr. Baum, this is because I am deceased) it seemed a fitting thing to do for a bit. While I was burying myself in a pile of Pacifico bottles and assorted rum drinks, I got to thinking about what brought me to the House of Ideas in the first place, the X-Men.
Now the Band of Merry Mutants has had a rough go of it for a while. Unfortunately, it would seem that the real-world politics of IP ownership and the like have bled into the story and Marvel editorial seemingly took their Fox frustrations out on us readers. However, now that Marvel and Fox are both under the same Mouse, it seems like the stories are on the rise. So, with the news of corporate mergers and our the return of our favorite six-clawed mutant (no not that one, the other one, no the first one) I thought it’d be an interesting experiment and take a hard look at the mutants in the 616.
Sun, sand, and copious cervezas have gotten me a bit philosophical so bear with me. Do we even need the X-Men in the 616? While there have been plenty of examples of entertaining cross-overs and interactions with the non-mutant heroes, recently it’s been more miss than hits. While our Bouncing Blue Beast was a fun addition to the Avengers in the ’80s, many fans balked at the idea of Wolverine, or even worse yet Deadpool as an Avenger. Not to mention that the most recent event focusing on the X-Men and the Avengers, AvX, was a dismal failure.
While everyone lamented the rise of the Inhumans as a seemingly shoe-horned mutant placeholder, objectively speaking, aren’t they somewhat of a more fitting part of the current superhero universe. Let me breakdown some reasons that the Inhumans are actually better at being the X-Men in the Marvel Universe
- They fit the logistic mold of the universe with a power origin that is consistent with the basic rules and history of the universe. Whereas the idea of ‘mutants’ was meant as a metaphor for anyone born different, it also feels a bit like a cheat. The inhumans having a cosmic origin actually pulls multiple threads of the MU together without Claremont having a teacher from Westchester dating a bird girl from a galaxy far away.
- While they’ve been around for some time, recent events have put them more in the public’s eye both in the story and in readership. Now, this could be more artifice than zeitgeist, with the editorial staff pumping the breaks on the X-books on the down-low. But with the inclusion of the Kree in Agents of Shield and horrible or not their own T.V. Show. Inhumans are no longer obscure remnants from Kirby’s FF run.
- Current stories involving the nu-humans have little or no reference to mutants at all. While realistically, wouldn’t everyone in the world be drawing that conclusion? How is it in all the stories of Nu-Human panic, we never saw a single re-tasked sentinel? And while the M-Pox storyline is a veiled allegory to the metafictional reality, without it would the mutants factor at all?
- The leadership structure and community is more believable than a creepy old man engaging in questionable manipulations, collecting errant teenagers to build a team of super-heroes. In our current climate, isn’t it more plausible that a race of superhumans in small numbers would come together under a banner of rulership then five teenagers in a school in upstate New York? More to the point, the Inhuman Royal family read like a combination of Xavier and Magneto combined. Several times, we’ve seen the mutants attempt to retreat to their own isolated civilization. The Inhumans succeeded.
- They are more versatile for storytelling than the X-men: A common complaint about current X-books is their unoriginality. With the Inhumans, they can be a villain or an ally, all depending on the current threat to the kingdom.
Those are just a few thoughts I had on the Inhumans as the mutant analog. But feelings on Black Bolt and crew aside, let’s look at the X-Men objectively.
The mutant metaphor works so much better when you don’t have other people with powers running (or swinging) around in colorful outfits. I’m not saying we should go back to the black leather of the Morrison era, but consider the possibility that the mutants work better in isolation in their own universe.
Finally, shifting from the 616 to the MCU, pardon the subject shift. I blame tequila.
While many a fanboy craves seeing Wolvie give the finger to Cap, can we really objectively say that including them in the MCU would be an improvement? We’re at nearly 20 films, multiple television shows, and a cast of characters that are already stretching the limits for an Avengers sequel. Yet because the completist in our comic-geek nature wants all the action figures back in the box. But would it be so bad if the X-Men stayed where they were? Or more to the point, do we believe that the MCU machine would sufficiently dedicate the resources to improving the franchise or just hoard the property like an angry kid who took their toys and went home? I suppose time will tell. My point is, sometimes more is just too much. Like drinking at an all-inclusive in Mexico. jdketch out.
(*addendum: This was written before Hickman’s House of X. Many of these opinions have now been rendered moot and 100% alcohol-fueled)
Jeffrey Ketcham is a writer of imaginative fiction in comics and prose. Otherwise, he’s been a professional musician, barista, bartender, and musical instrument repairman. He’s an unabashed geek and aficionado of all things comic books, dogs, genre fiction, good coffee, and Irish whiskey.