WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Multiple Man #1, by Matthew Rosenberg and Andy MacDonald, on sale now.
Time travel and X-Men go together like peanut butter and Nutella. It’s a delicious combination, but it’s certainly not for everyone (some people have nut allergies, folks).
Over the last few decades of X-books, time travel has not just been used as a simple plot device, it’s been wielded like a magic eraser to fix continuity problems and missteps from the issues of yore. But with every attempt to glue what little strands of logic X-Men comics still hold back together again, the fallacies of playing with time chip away at any sense of continuity.
But, honestly... there’s nothing wrong with that.
X-Men comics are bonkers, plain and simple. And while you could say the same for pretty much every superhero comic under the sun, Marvel's X-Men lean into a certain kind of crazy that is both endearing and oddly off-putting to potentially new readers. It can be difficult to recommend a good “entry point” for X-Men. The mythos is so dense and convoluted that even if one was to ease into something like Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men or the extremely palatable Joss Whedon and John Cassaday run on Astonishing X-Men, there would be a lot you would just have to roll with, sans context.
Decades of love and betrayal, death and rebirth, time travel and paradoxes weigh heavy on the franchise, and starting at the beginning is way too daunting of a task to ask of a new reader to undertake. But the one thing that is persistent throughout is time-travel. It’s something anyone who is familiar with X-Men books knows is an aspect of the franchise, something that is omnipresent, for good and ill. Thankfully, it seems that Multiple Man #1 is trying something new, and how it will all pay out is anybody’s guess, which makes it genuinely exciting.
Time travel stories have produced some of the greatest X-Men moments ever. Arcs like “Days of Future Past” and “Messiah Complex” are pinnacles of what the ever-evolving team of mutants are capable of from a narrative standpoint. They lean into the intrinsic weirdness of zipping through time and embrace the myriad potential outcomes (somethings simultaneously) of their actions. But there are X-stories where utilizing time travel does more damage than good or, at the very least, paints creators into a corner when it comes to story progression.