X-Men Legends Volume 1: Mutant Genesis Tpb (Marvel Legends) Paperback – 1 Apr 2002
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The stories collected here are pretty decent, but aren't the best from ether Claremont or Lee. Claremont's Magneto story is probably the better of the two, as it returns Magneto to villain status in a big way. Lee's story was more dynamic, and had some of the paramilitary flavor he would use as the backbone for his Wildstorm Universe.
The artwork is gorgeous during the first half and a bit of a mess for the remainder of the book. I think deadline issues were to blame, as Lee has a reputation for not being able to stick with a monthly title. He had a few months to get the first few issues done, so naturally they're amazing to look at. The remaining issues are obviously the work of someone who was in a hurry.
My only complaint with this volume is the binding. It seems way too flimsy and after a few readings my copy looks much worse for wear. Maybe Marvel will give this the Premiere Classic hardcover treatment some day.
If you were an X-Men fan in the 1990's, you don't need me to tell you why you should have this volume in your collection. IF you came to the X-Men later, trust me when I say that what Claremont and Lee did on this title definitely influenced today's X-Men.
"Mutant Genesis" reprints (in color, not b&w) the first seven issues of the second series X-Men (now renamed New X-Men) from 1991. Claremont writes the first three issues, and John Byrne and Jim Lee write the remaining four. Lee provides pencils for all.
The the 3-issue story "Rubicon" represents Claremont's finale as he left the series he'd written for 14 years and made the highest selling comic EVER. It ranks among his best writing (which is saying a lot). The story revolves around Magneto's quest for vengence against Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert, involving nearly thirty years of X-Men history, including the effects of the Holocaust, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, and the effects of anger on the human soul. Highly recommended.
If you enjoy this trade, I would recommend Claremont's work in:
"X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills"; "X-Men: Vignettes"; and the four volumes of Essential X-Men b&w reprints.
Magneto lives a life of solitude above the Earth on an asteroid he dubbed Asteroid M. A ship that is being pursued lands on his asteroid with rogue mutants aboard led by a man named Fabian Cortez. The group swears their allegiance to Magneto, and begs for him to lead his kind into the battle against mankind. Completely unaware that Magneto has given up that lifestyle, they urge him to carry on regardless. Magneto returns to the Earth and enters into a battle with the X-Men, whom some of the members only see Magneto as the man he used to be. This confrontation reminds Magneto why he should be fighting in the first place. -summary
X-Men: Mutant Genesis is the result of the X-Men: Muir Island Saga, which took place in the pages of Uncanny X-Men issues 278-280 and X-Factor issues 69 & 70. The outcome of that storyline ended with the original X-Men, whom were currently the mutant team X-Factor, rejoining the current X-Men who were once again lead by Professor Xavier. Now, with their numbers greatly increased they separated into two teams; Gold Team which was led by Storm, and their stories took place in the pages of Uncanny X-men, and Blue Team which was led by Cyclops, and their stories took place in this series, the non titled X-Men which began its run in 1991. The first three stories were written by Chris Claremont with the artwork being done by Jim Lee. This trade paperback features X-Men issues 1 - 7, therefore, you're getting two complete stories with the second introducing a new villain and revealing the whereabouts of two lost X-Men.
The first story was a splendid way to close the books on the reformed Magneto, whom tried so hard to follow Xavier's dream when he was on the side of the X-Men, and was the headmaster of the New Mutants. His character is given an extra amount of depth that reveals another, more compassionate side in regards to his enemies that he slain years ago. I thought his reaction to witnessing the bones of the crew in the submarine he sank back in Uncanny X-Men # 150 was one of those "wow" moments. His new faction that go on to call themselves the Acolytes are given a decent amount of exposure, but they come off as mere stock bad guys. This also goes for many of the villains in the second story, as almost no one came off the slightest bit interesting. I always thought the twin duo Fenris were lame.
The plot moves at a nice pace with a good plot twist, and the readers are given a little to think about when it's revealed that Magneto's very essence may have been tampered. Which drove him into a fury, because this put his entire life since his rebirth in Uncanny X-Men #104 under questioning. Eventually, the climax built into a possible X-Men vs. X-Men confrontation, and the ending was put together well and fitting for Magneto. The second story is focused more on Wolverine, as a small group of the X-Men are ambushed by the ninja organization called the Hand. This sees Wolverine kidnapped and pitted against an enemy from his past Omega Red, who's abilities are every bit a match for Wolverine's. During this chapter several things occur; there's a bit more revealed on the faction called the Upstarts, Wolverine's secret agent days are examined a little, Sabretooth raises an eyebrow on Gambit's mysterious past, and finally Dazzler and Longshot's whereabouts are revealed.
I have heard of the pacing issues that take place, and the segments involving former X-Men Longshot and Dazzler, as well as Mojo's world takes a lot of heat for this; but to understand the importance of this side plot, one has to understand that Dazzler and Longshot were among the most popular third generation X-Men. And fans had been screaming for months on what happened to these characters after Longshot quit the X-Men, and the team disbanding by crossing over through the Siege Perilous to avoid the Reavers. However, I will admit that those segments threw things off though, but I can't think of any other way it could have been injected.
Jim Lee's artwork has always been amazing, and I think it became a little better by this time. The character designs have a great amount of detail and I liked the civilian outfits for the characters. The action panels also had some good moments, and I had no trouble keeping up with the dialogue bubbles. Now speaking of the dialogue, it has those bad moments with a few weak lines here and there, but some decent lines as well.
X-Men: Mutant Genesis was a good start that could have been better. Still, it's something I can read again and I recommend to serious X-Men fans.
Pros: Lee's artwork, good amount of action, background on Wolverine
Cons: Weak dialogue at times, Some uninteresting villains
By 1991, the X-Men franchise had exploded into heights undreamed of and a second X-Men title was launched, selling a record (that still holds up today) of 8 million copies of its first issue sold.
Unfortunately, it was Claremont's last hurrah (at the time) as THE mutant scribe as editorial edict seemed to favor more input from the artist over the writer and he left the title with issue #3.
Following in his footsteps as writer were John Byrne (who had a miserable time on the gig) and Scott Lobdell (who eventually got the gig) with plot assists from Lee himself.
The art is solid, as artist/inker team of Jim Lee and Scott Williams shines, but takes a noticable change as a rotation of inkers comes in over the pencils.
The writing has a noticable shift, as Claremont's often cliched phrases and structuring is replaced with a different tone and has a more humourous tone to it.
I give this 5 stars in the fact that the first edition had those new commissions by Jeff Matsuda to balance the broken spreads, with dialogue inserted to try and seam them together.