- Superheroes and Other Heroes, Thoughts on Comics
Why I don’t like the X-Men….
- May 15, 2022
That’s right, I don’t like the X-Men. I’ve never been able to get into them. While there have been certain stories and shows where I didn’t mind them (X-Men Evolution at least didn’t offend me), on the whole the characters don’t interest me, and the entire set-up is kind of just off-putting.
But… you know, I think maybe my distaste for the X-Men in general stems from the fact that I was mostly introduced to them through Mark Millar’s Ultimate X-Men.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was trying to get more into superhero comics… in my early childhood I’d dismissed superheroes as “boring,” largely because I thought it was all about the powers and about who could beat up who… that was all the boys I knew talked about anyway. It was actually Spider-Man that convinced me otherwise… while visiting a cousin I flipped through an old Avengers comic guest starring Spider-Man, and was astonished to find that Spider-Man actually had a personality. He was a braggart and a class clown who was always joking to cover up his immense guilt complex. Spidey convinced me that superheroes actually could be interesting as characters and not just as punching machines… so I began looking into superhero stuff.
This was in the early 2000s, and the MCU hadn’t started up yet. The first two X-Men movies and the first Spider-Man movie were out, but I hadn’t seen them… and while I managed to catch a few eps of the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon this was slightly before streaming services and online vids made it easier to watch or binge-watch cartoons over the Internet. Besides, it was the comics I was interested in, at least at the time… but the Marvel comics had such a huge backlog of comics. Like so many newcomers I ended up overwhelmed. Where the hell should I start?
Let’s face it, Marvel comics as a whole is not new reader friendly. They pander to their fanbase, and anyone who doesn’t already know all the characters and their histories is hopelessly lost.
Ultimate Marvel seemed to be the answer. It was a relatively new branch of the comics, and FAR easier to get a decent oversight over. I tried my hands at the Brian Michael Bendis/Mark Bagley Ultimate Spider-Man series, and I really liked it, so I thought that okay, I’m going to follow the Ultimate-verse.
Ultimate X-Men… eeeeh… started out at an okayish place, I suppose. It had some decent scenes, and while the characters were kind of not very interesting, they weren’t offensive or anything…. and then Mark Millaer remembered that he was Mark Millar and began writing everyone as a total asshole, in a world of total assholes. This ended up becoming the schtick of the Ultimate universe as a whole, really, and after having been disgusted by both The Ultimates and Ultimate Fantastic Four, it was Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra that made me swear off the Ultimate universe and instead try my hand at the normal Marvel universe… confusion be damned.
It sort of worked. Some of the characters I’d detested in the Ultimate universe I ended up quite liking in the regular universe… though for the Avengers, it wasn’t until the movies I actually found any version of them I liked.
And then there were the X-Men. After a few storylines with their Ultimate counterparts, I DETESTED the X-Men. And I just couldn’t find ANY X-Men stories that actually made me care about them as characters.
The really old X-Men comics by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby? They were terrible. Lee and Kirby did great with Fantastic Four, and Lee and Ditko’s original Spider-Man comics held up surprisingly well too, but the X-Men were just… uninspired and dull. Grant Morrison’s X-Men? OH GHAAAAH, I couldn’t stand them. Regular X-Men comics? I had no idea what was going on there.
And then there were the movies. I know I watched them, but I can’t remember a single thing about them, apart from the “what happens to a toad that’s struck by lightning” line.
Unlike the Fantastic Four, which I now think are pretty cool characters (especially Ben Grimm, who may be the best Marvel character of all!), there just weren’t any stories that changed my mind on the X-Men.
Like I said, there were a couple of stories I kind of liked… I did get through X-Men Evolution okay. I don’t actually remember a lot from that show either, but the few things I do remember are at least positive. It did give me a new appreciation for Wolverine as a supporting character (long as he isn’t forced into being the star of the show he’s actually pretty cool) and I liked that one scene where Hank McCoy transforms into a beast and tries to keep control by quoting Shakespeare. (Possibly why I ended up kind of liking Hank McCoy too, even though he was SO HORRIBLE in Ultimate X-Men.) Not to mention the Walk on the Wild Side musical segment. But none of this was enough to make me switch around and go “these characters are cool.”
Ultimate X-Men simply ruined them for me, and no X-Men story since has managed to rescue them, at least as a group.
After I gave up on superhero comics in general, I’ve sporadically tried peeking back to see if things have improved. They haven’t. So I think it’ll be quite some time before I ever take any sort of interest in the X-Men… if I ever do.