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June 27, 2014 / Jett

X-Men: Mutant Genesis Review

When most people think of the X-Men, they think of the X-Men from the Mutant Genesis era. As part of the 1991 relaunch, longtime writer Chris Claremont combined both old and new X-Men teams together for the first time to face off against a rejuvenated Magneto. Paired with Jim Lee’s spectacular art, issue #1 would become the single best selling comic book of all-time; a record that it holds to this day. It also doesn’t hurt that most of the classic X-Men cartoon is based on this specific era of the team.

The X-Men: Mutant Genesis trade paperback contains the first seven issues from the aforementioned relaunch. Magneto is the focus of the first three issues, as he and a group of fanatical mutants threaten the Earth from his personal asteroid in outer space. Following that is the explosive debut of Omega Red.

Because the cartoon was my starting point, it was great to see where most of that originated from. All of the characters look as I remember them from the show and Jim’s art still holds up. Sure, the colouring work may show its age, but these pages still look great for what they are. For as much attention as the Magneto arc gets, I actually have mixed feelings about it. Claremont’s overall plot is strong, but its bogged down by writing issues that have always been persistent throughout his work. Oftentimes, there’s way too much babbling going on. The most offensive of this occurs when characters have to explain how their powers work for the 800th time. I get it Claremont, Wolverine’s claws are sharp!

My feelings towards the Magneto story are lukewarm at best, but issues 4-7 about Omega Red are great. Dialing back the unnecessary dialogue, the story and characters get into a great rhythm that carries throughout. My favourite scene of the whole book actually comes from this arc, as watching the team take time to play basketball shows a different side of their personalities while being hilarious at the same time.

Over 20 years later, X-Men: Mutant Genesis still stands as a seminal work. The main attraction may not have the staying power due to its excessive dialogue, but getting to see Omega Red face off against the team was a real treat. If you have an affinity for the cartoon like I did, or want to own a sampling of the X-Men at the peak of their popularity, this is the book for you.

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