Reading “X-Men Forever” is watching Chris Claremont go wild and do whatever he wants to do with these characters and is conversely brilliant in its inventiveness and stunning in its argument for editorial control and limits upon writers. Claremont without a filter is entertaining, since even the questionable decisions like the final page reveal of this issue contain something intriguing. People have argued in favor of letting writers like Claremont do what they want without editors saying no, without being slaves to continuity, and here it is. “X-Men Forever” #20 where a blind Sabretooth loses his hand to rescue Daisy Dugan from a subway car, while working with Nick Fury to save Fabian Cortez from the Consortium.
Perhaps, without Claremont’s overbearing writing, this comic would read better, but his extensive narrative captions and random thought balloons drag the story down, taking it from the campy fun that it could be to an overwrought melodrama that’s not fun at all. Looking at the plot alone, this could be the sort of comic that people love with its lack of ties to continuity and willingness to take characters in unexpected directions. Some of Claremont’s choices are questionable, especially as he goes beyond the stable of X-Men characters to involve the larger Marvel Universe, but there’s a satisfaction in watching him do as he pleases.
If only Claremont would lose captions like “Remy’s not fond of fighting. By nature, he’s a charmer. By profession, an adventurer-thief. Violence like this may be a fact of his life, occasionally even a necessity… but only as a last resort. He much prefers being the lover to the warrior. That said, he prides himself on being the best he can be at both.” Clunky and laughably bad, the issue is peppered with these.
Graham Nolan on art isn’t a drastic departure from regular artist Tom Grummett, but Nolan’s style lacks a certain aesthetic appeal. While his storytelling and basic figures are strong, his details are lacking with misshapen heads and awkwardly drawn faces. While it’s never hard to tell what’s going on, the pages just don’t look good. The action is stilted and stiff, the characters even more so when they aren’t fighting, and the style is antiquated.
“X-Men Forever” offers up limitless possibilities, but still manages to feel out of touch and restrained while having a hint of insanity below the surface. With a more energetic artist and a restrained writing style, Claremont could be crafting some ballsy comics each month that would blow readers’ minds. Instead, he writes comics that are a chore to read and offer nonsensical plot twists.