Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Joe Glass0
Tales from the Four Colour Closet – Whatever Happened to Generation X?
Generation X was what got me into comics. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t the first comics I’d read (bizarrely Ghost Rider gets that honour (bizarre only because I hate Ghost Rider and was about 5 years old)). But after falling in love with the seminal X-Men cartoon in the 90s, Panini released a comic that reprinted Generation X as part of it, and I fell in love.
I loved the characters! In my mind, I feel like it was the same feeling as a young teen reading as it was for those reading the Original Five (I honestly still think that). But these guys had cooler powers (in my mind) and were more visually interesting and complex characters.
So much so that when that UK-based reprint magazine finished, I started collecting US comics at my local comic store: my first item to go in my Pull List was of course Generation X.
I stuck with the series even when it seemed to become a bit mixed up after the initial creators, Scott Lobdell and Chris Bachalo, left the book. Even through the confusing times when it turned out M was comprised of two pre-pubescent tweens and the brief inclusion of a six-foot martini drinking weasel as a sidekick. And when Warren Ellis came on board and planned out a truly interesting and original take on what a teen superhero group might get up to, brilliantly executed by Brian Wood, my interest was even greater…except it sadly
ended shortly after that.
After the series finished, the characters, sadly did not get much in the way of good happen to them. As a matter of fact, they seemed to become Marvel’s favourite punching bags for the large part.
Banshee got his throat slashed, affecting his powers, before getting killed by plane. Skin got turned down by Jubilee, and then promptly crucified and dying off-panel. Jubilee herself was ignored by her old friends in the X-Men before losing her powers at M-Day and then being turned into a vampire (yeah, that one’s a whole mess). Synch died off panel. M pretty much vanished. Penance…well, no one really seems to make much sense of who or what Penance is anymore. Chamber got roped into going undercover in Weapon X, lost his powers almost killing him, then got turned into some weird Apocalypse-Lite, cow lips and all. Husk got a whole slutty plot in Uncanny X-Men under Chuck Austen including a skimpy outfit, her powers now involving her being naked all the time, and a sex scene in mid-air (I kid you not, her mother even watched).
In fact, the only one who came out unscathed was Emma Frost who has seen her character sore in importance at Marvel.
Every time one of these characters appeared in a comic I got excited and would buy it, even if it wasn’t a regular pick of mine. And pretty much every time I got slapped with a shitty plotline that was either left hanging or really just seemed to put the character through the ringer with no resolution.
Now, I know characters are meant to be put through the ringer, but it honestly felt like it happened more to these guys than, say, the New Mutants.
However, things are looking up. Chamber has had his powers reset (and thankfully, his appearance) and has been appearing in several books, including getting the chance to be a total bad-ass in X-Men Legacy with what appears to be an actual character arc. Husk is an important part of Wolverine and the X-Men, with a mysterious character arc that is promised to be resolved. Jubilee will be part of a major new X-Men book, an all-women team, and possibly have her powers restored if the Terry Dodson variant is anything to go by.
M has been an integral part of the wildly successful X-Factor. Even Penance has shown up in Avengers Academy before it ended.
It’s been great for the fan in me that misses the old Generation X.
But it has had me thinking: how come, out of the ton of X-books coming out part of Marvel NOW! there is no Young X-Book planned? It seems like a glaring oversight. The whole misunderstood teen angle, feeling like a freak, it’s naturally X-Men. And no Young X-book has lasted for any significant length of time for a while, not much more than a year or two at most. And as well as the Gen Xers, there are a ton of Young X-Men still out there not getting much love, such as Anole, Rockslide, Indra and more. So it’s not like the X-world is short of characters.
You might argue that Wolverine and the X-Men covers it. But that book doesn’t focus on the X-kids so much…and those that it does are largely new creations.
And the Avengers side of the Marvel Universe is having several youth titles, in the form of Avengers Arena and Young Avengers. Even the cosmic side of the MU is getting some young blood in the upcoming Nova.
Kieron Gillen, writer of Young Avengers, has teased a crossover with Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, and the inclusion of more young characters in Young Avengers, some of whom may in fact be from the X-crowd. But still no new Young X-book to look forward to. Still, at least things are looking up for my Generation.
Next year is the 20th Anniversary of Generation X (I know, I feel terribly old with that thought), but as yet no plans for a reboot have been announced. When asked I was told to check out the awesome new variant cover to All New X-Men by Chris Bachalo. But you never know, hopefully the Gen Xers will get a return to greatness yet.