GeNext #1

About a million years ago, Marvel allowed fans to vote on its website for which project they'd like to see Chris Claremont write next. The winner of this poll was GeNext -- a story about who the children of the X-Men would've been, had the characters been aging in real time. Claremont's health problems delayed the launch of the miniseries, but after two years the project has finally come out. Was it worth the wait?

Well, yes and no. The story itself is, so far, little more than the premise suggests -- a cast of second and third generation X-Men. If that doesn't excite you, then you might as well put the book down immediately. If you're the sort of person who read through the whole of "X-Men: The End" and loves "New Exiles"' reliance on continuity minutiae, you'll be well at home here. Everyone else, well, you'd better hope the novelty of seeing Colossus' grandson is enough.

In fairness, it's some of Claremont's better recent work. With a fresh cast to introduce, Claremont actually turns in a cast of fairly engaging kids with immediately distinct personalities. Reading it, you're transported back to the early days of the (original) "New Mutants", and I say that in a positive way. There's a training session, then a scrape in a bar where someone's forced to use their powers, and there's some soap opera inter-character drama. It's a classic, old-school Claremont formula -- the problem is that there's no suggestion of what the plot's going to be when I pick up the next issue. We have scenes, but no story.

Drawing the series is Patrick Scherberger, a name I instantly recognize as being the winner of CBR's very first Comic Book Idol competition. Nice to see he's still around. His designs for the kids' uniforms are really great, looking futuristic yet in a way that's both fashionable and practical. He draws action in a nice expressive way that echoes a slightly more restrained Humberto Ramos. Some of the backgrounds are a little under-rendered -- only the few pages set in the club have any real detail, where the rest of the issue is pretty samey, but it's not so jarring it ruins the issue, just a definite area for improvement.

I can definitely see this turning out to be a fairly entertaining little series, as long as you're the kind of person the book is aimed at. The quality is such that if the level is maintained, I can see these characters being popular enough to warrant guest-starring in "New Exiles" before long, so anyone reading that title might want to take a look. Ultimately, the book's biggest flaw is its central premise. If the idea of Chris Claremont writing a five issue "What If: X-Men" series makes you think it's worth buying, then this is exactly what you want. If not, it's unlikely to win you over.

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