Review: X-Men: No More Humans

X-Men_No_More_Humans_CoverAmong my fellow comic book peers it is no secret that I was not the biggest fan of Brian Bendis’ run with the X-Men flagship titles.  For me he failed to connect strongly with the rich tradition of the X-Men, presented some disjointed characterization and overall was just not able to invigorate the franchise. Bendis is a great breaker of toys, and lover of controversy. Where this worked to great effect on his run during Avengers, this ethos fell very flat with the X-Men. One of the outgrowths of Bendis‘ run was the arrival of the future brotherhood of evil mutants In the aftermath of Battle of the Atom.

The prospect of a future brotherhood had great promise, and presented a unique and unprecedented threat to the x-men and their mission. With the countervailing presence of the time displaced original five X-Men from the past, we had a very high concept status quo for this era’s X-Men, the struggle and legacy of Xavier’s dream played out on the landscape of space and time. This should have breathed new life into the X-Men, unfortunately under Bendis‘ pen it did not. For all their grandeur and theatrics the future brotherhood were quickly relegated to irrelevance.  Additionally further follow-up stories were beleaguered non sensical and flashy non sequiturs. Seriously, in what universe would Charles Xavier willingly procreate with Mystique?

All that said Mike Carey’s graphic Novel X-Men: No More Humans presents a brief yet enjoyable salve to these problems. In my opinion Carey’s primary strength has always centered on his portrayal of relationships and his dutiful and faithful approach to characterizations. All characters under Carey’s pen have their own voice, and the interactions amongst the characters he writes are authentic and reflective of all those voices whether harmonious or discordant.  In X-Men: No More Humans Raze a future brotherhood member (and mystique and wolverine’s future son)* uses his future knowledge to enact a sweeping and blunt solution to the problem of mutant-human relations. Stealing technology that was (or will be ) used against mutants in the future., Raze manages to temporally displace all humans away from the earth. He then begins the second phase of his plan by bringing repressed mutants from alternate dimensions. This is the kind of threat from the future brotherhood I was waiting for. Anti-human sentiment matched with future knowledge. This not only presents the X-Men with a pressing moral dilemma and refugee crisis, it provides them with a superordinate goal that temporally galvanizes all of the X-Men factions which gives everyone the opportunity to reassess their mission as well as the future for mutantkind.

Interactions among Magneto- Mystique, Magneto and the Maximoff twins are heartfelt, nostalgic and build on as well as affirms years of storytelling. They also provide some thought provoking philosophical argument.  Many characters get a moment to shine given their own unique take on the state of mutantkind and how they believe the solution should be approached given the current crisis.  What we get as a result is a stimulating commentary on mutant human relations and a refreshing X-Men reunion.

X-Men: No More Humans is not a perfect story. While it’s nice to see the X-Men discuss the philosophy of their seemingly splintered visions, and working together, the resolution arrives via deus ex machina with an intervention from the phoenix force. A very  overused plot element in my opinion. The flashy and cosmic muscle flexing of the Phoenix force are nice to  look at but its use and intervention ultimately renders all the philosophical considerations and plot progression moot. We essentially get a big reset button setting everything back to the same before the crisis began, with the exception of Raze being taken out of play with a cosmic spank from the Phoenix. (Perhaps a tongue in cheek commentary of the future brotherhood from Carey). While this was a plausible solution given the interdimensional nature of the crisis it ultimately felt uninspired and too easy.

The art was colorful and the extradimensional panels (i.e the null space) were amazing to look at. Larroca also captured the frightful eeriness of an empty Time Square quite well, it felt like you were there. I still have issue with how he draws faces ( I feel they can be uniform)  but this is a minor gripe that in no way detracts from his work on this book which look diligent and polished overall.  X-Men: No More Humans is not essential reading, but in my opinion it stands as the last great X-story/X-dilemma prior to Secret Wars.

Final Thoughts

* So in this apparent future Mystique has child with both Xavier and Wolverine, which is odd timeline wise and logistically given Wolverine’s recent death.

I loved that the secondary villain is a mere human employing stolen alternate dimension technology. For some reason I just loved the simplicity of that.

Story: Mike Carey Art: Salvador Larocca
Story: 8 Art: 9 Overall 8.5 Recommendation: Read