“100th Anniversary Special: X-Men” is a strange comic, and I don’t mean that in a good way. Set in 2061 immediately after the inauguration of President Scott Summers, Robin Furth and Jason Masters do their best to give us a potential “What If…?” future for the X-Men and the Marvel Universe in general. But the further you get into this story, the more you realize that there’s no real point to the comic.
But first, the good parts: Masters’ fill-in pages in “Batman Incorporated” were good, so it’s no surprise that having him draw an entire comic also looks strong. The characters are older and designed a little different, but it’s nice to have them all recognizable. The massacre on the White House lawn has a lot of detail, and as simple as it may sound to draw sprawled bodies, it’s harder than you might think to make it look realistic instead of posed.
The basic setup of the comic is also not bad either; while it’s a little frustrating to be told in a text page rather than shown how Cyclops becomes President of the United States, especially because it’s probably the best thing from Furth’s story. It could have been told within the pages of the comic itself, but having it just dumped on us before the first page of art feels like a bit of a cheat.
But then again, that’s the problem with this comic in general. The ending is a cheap conclusion, and even worse, it’s one that doesn’t need to be. This is off in its own continuity, seemingly never to be referred to again… so why have a deus ex machina step in two pages from the end and hit a reset switch of sorts? It undoes any of the tension leading up to this point, although once you’ve gotten to this point it also becomes quite clear how little danger there actually was. This is a comic that doesn’t reward the audience by re-reading; instead the second time through it’s much poorer and limp.
“100th Anniversary Special: X-Men” (and the line of these “anniversary specials” in general) must have sounded great in the initial editorial pitch meeting. But after reading “100th Anniversary Special: X-Men” I have absolutely no interest in reading any of the others. It’s a reverse “What If…?” comic, where readers are given an alternate ending to a story where we’ll never get the original version — and without a strong story, it’s not fun at all.