After waiting more than 2 years Essential X-Men 10 was a disappointment. When we last saw the X-Men they had been scattered across the world some taking up new lives and identities. The first quarter of this book wraps up their stories but it then launches into two long and convoluted crossovers with uneven quality and mediocre plots.
The middle of the book is occupied by a sequel of sorts to the classic 'Days of Future Past' where a grown up Franklin Richards from a post-apocalyptic future travels to the 'present' of 1990. It's rather confused and pointless spread across the Fantastic Four, X-Factor, X-Men and New Mutants annuals. It seems the writers didn't not communicate well with one another, in one chapter Rachel Summers is attacked and flees in horror, in the next she's happily eating a burger and acts like the last chapter never happened. In the climax of one chapter the villain's base is destroyed, in the next it's back and working just fine. The cross over had potential, and offered interesting glimpses of the future but ultimately went no where. Art Adam's work on the X-Men annual is the only thing that really works.
Then we jump into the X-tinction Agenda, another crossover roping in X-Factor and the New Mutants. The X-Men are attacked by the forces of Genosha, a clear analogy for apartheid-era South Africa where mutants are an enslaved underclass. Once again there's a good idea there, but the results are underwhelming. Jim Lee's art is stellar throughout but does mesh well at all with X-Factor's Jon Bogdanove or the New Mutant's Rob Liefeld.
No one seems to have really considered where the plot was going - after invading a foreign country, killing several police and attempting to blow up the capital Cyclops tells a judge "You can't do this, we're American citizens!". Huh? I'm pretty sure being a US citizen is not a license to kill. The story is also padded with even the villain complaining 'haven't we danced this fandango before?' when one scene is an almost exact copy of the last issue. The story ends with a military coup deposing the elected government of Genosha and the X-Men bringing down a 160 story sky scraper in the middle of their capital. Happy ending right? Except for any civil servants, secretaries and others who didn't get out in time, but they were probably evil anyway.
X-Tinction Agenda didn't impress me when I first read it and it didn't seem any better this time around.
The X-Men had seen crossovers before, and having them interact with their sister teams in the New Mutants and X-Factor makes sense, the problem is the X-Men were still in a state of flux the team was just starting to come back together and the crossovers derailed their larger story.
There's still some interesting bits here, the X-Men more or less give up their long-held code against killing. When someone attacks the mansion they grab guns off the rack and go out armed. When they invade Genosha they lure local police into a warehouse and blow it up. The X-Men were clearly leading the way into the Dark Age of comics.
A lot of the problems in this book are caused by where the comic industry was in 1990. The X-Men were red hot and Marvel was doing everything it could to maximize their presence. But the crossovers and the occasional 2 issue a month runs dragged down quality and made an already complex soap opera even more confusing.