Age of X-Man was a very interesting event, which played with dystopia in a manner that the X-Books hadn’t really done before. However, leading into it and running parallel to it was Uncanny X-Men Volume 5 which, frankly, was something of a slog.
The book starts out with “X-Men Disassembled”, which is basically the inciting event for Age of X-Man, with X-Man forming his own Four Horsemen, and being opposed by Apocalypse, Legion, and the X-Men. However, as a part of this event, some research that Beast had been doing into the roots of mutation, research that could be used to create a “cure” for mutation was delivered to O.N.E. – which had basically become an anti-mutant organization, completely with resumed development of Sentinels.
After “X-Men Disassembled”, there is a time-skip. Most of the X-Men, along with many of the major superheroic Mutants, were pulled into the Age of X-Man Reality Marble. While there are some X-Men in the outside world, including a resurrected Logan and Cyclops, superhero mutants are few and far between. Worse, O.N.E. has reverse-engineered Beast’s research and used it to create a “cure” to mutation, and has, through propaganda and by force, using it to wipe out the X-Gene. Mutantkind is approaching its end.
Consequently, Cyclops and his new X-Team decide that they’re not going to go quietly into that good night – they’re going to go and take out what remaining loose ends are left, in terms of major malicious Mutants, and then go out in some sort of a bang.
This leads to the tone of the book, a slow, unrelenting death march. It’s miserable, it’s dour, and it’s depressing. It’s a book that kills off Wolfsbane in what is clearly meant to be an analog to a Trans panic murder.
To be clear, this is a book that does absolutely, 100% remember what the Mutant Metaphor is a metaphor for, and has decided to bring members of those populations fears to life. It’s forced “cure” therapy caused by people who claim they love you and are trying to change you into something you’re not. It’s eliminating disability in younger generations so they don’t have to worry about people with disability in older generations. It’s, well, GLBT panic murders. The only thing it doesn’t have is actual lynchings.
What makes it frustrating is that while using the language of hate crimes to tell a story about hate is nothing new to the X-Books, the way it’s executed here feels a little too rough. “God Loves, Man Kills” had the lynching of a mutant, and numerous X-Books have had post-apocalyptic “pile of skulls” futures where mutants have been rounded up into death camps. And in most of these cases, the oppressively grim parts of the story have tended to be pretty short – Age of Apocalypse is the exception, not the rule.
Honestly, the storyline might be required reading, depending on how much House of X and Powers of X build off of this conclusion, but from what I’ve read, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’d recommend giving this whole run after “X-Men Disassembled” a miss, and I kind of regret not dropping the book.
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