It’s been almost 20 years since Chris Claremont’s original departure from “Uncanny X-Men.” Since then, he’s come back to write the title twice, plus having his own X-Men title created just for him (“X-Treme X-Men”) as well as other ongoing titles and mini-series (“New Excalibur,” “New Exiles,” “Mechanix,” and so on). So why, then, are we jumping back to the early ’90s for a continuation from Claremont’s final story on the title the first time through?
The strange thing is that over the years, Claremont has already said in interviews what he had planned next. Some of those story elements have since even shown up in “X-Men” and other related books. So while the claim is that “X-Men Forever” is the official “what happens next” book, the reality? Doesn’t seem to be that in the slightest.
Still, ignoring all that, it’s not a terribly good book. It’s hard to overlook that in-between that last story (helpfully reprinted as “X-Men Forever Alpha”) and this current one, Claremont has shuffled Archangel, Banshee, Colossus, Forge, Iceman, and Psylocke out of the title entirely, and imported Nightcrawler and Shadowcat. But that seems to be the way of “X-Men Forever” in general; things happening in-between issues, a general jerky, helter-skelter approach to the book. I suppose there’s the possibility that this disjointed storytelling style is for a reason, but if so I can’t peg why. Either way, though, it’s a remarkably unenjoyable read. Things seem to just happen randomly, to the point that one starts to hope that this entire series so far will turn out to be a random Danger Room scene.
Tom Grummett’s art is also not up to par in “X-Men Forever.” I don’t remember him drawing women’s breasts to look like water balloons in the past, but there’s no other way to describe Storm’s chest when she walks into the Mansion. Even worse, when the climactic scene hits at the end of the second issue, it takes the dialogue to explain what happened; it’s supposed to be a dramatic reveal visually that just doesn’t pay off.
Claremont and Grummett have both worked on better books in recent days, so “X-Men Forever” is almost bewildering to look at. They’re both capable of a lot better, but this book just feels like a mistake on every level. I can’t figure out why “X-Men Forever” got green lit; younger X-Men fans probably won’t care about a book that follows up on stories from the early ’90s, and older X-Men fans have probably moved on. With stories of this caliber, I suspect finding and keeping an audience is going to be difficult at best.