I Can’t Believe I Own This Comic
Mutant X #1
by Howard Mackie & Tom Raney
Okay, let me justify myself first. I am a sucker for alternate universe stories. Not the boring ‘Nazis won World War II’ stuff, but skewed versions of fictional worlds that I enjoy. It is a weakness of mine, along with dark-haired woman and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Secondly, my love of the X-universe from my early days of my comic book passion still affects me in strange ways. Finally, I really dig Tom Raney’s art. It’s got a cool, funky vibe, with a sharp line, and I’ve enjoyed it since Stormwatch with Warren Ellis. These are the reasons I bought this book. And not because it’s a ‘Collector’s Item 1st Issue!’ as it screams on the cover.
I won’t go into too much bashing of Howard Mackie, as this has been done before by better and more-vicious writers than I am, but it is quite awful stuff. This is apart from his attempt at lyrical prose: ‘I remember dying.’ (We wish.) He has Havok complain about the expositional dialogue he spouts concerning the Sentinels in the first pages, where they state everyone’s names and powers so the readers know who everyone is, a bad sign when you have to take the piss out of your own poor writing ability. He follows this by having the Sentinels killed by the ultimate weapon – vampire-controlled rats! Genius. Why didn’t the X-Men think of that before?
Anyway, for the sake of the story, the Havok of the normal Marvel universe somehow swaps places with a presumably dying Havok of this alternate universe. There could be many reasons for this, but I think it’s because our Havok has a really bad costume, with all the straps and the completely pointless mask bits on his face. Does he have to use that skin glue that gymnasts and Gladiators use so their costumes don’t ride up their arse cracks? It’s so stupid.
He’s probably glad to be rid of it. It allows him to grow a Raney goatee: it’s not quite a full-grown goatee, more stubbly in appearance, and seems to exist in an unnatural shape around the chin and up the side of the jaw. How the hell does he get it like that? I used to have a basic square goatee, and that was a nightmare to keep straight at the best of times; Alex must have to spend hours in the bathroom in the morning getting it to look like that.
The reason I liked the idea behind this book is presented in the page above. The use of X-book continuity to provide alternate versions of the heroes. Alex takes the place of Scott in the original X-Men, leaving with Maddie and child when Magneto (in his silly wrestling costume) takes over the X-Men after Professor X left in The Uncanny X-Men #200; Ororo is a vampire because of Dracula from an X-Men annual; Bobby is the super-cold version of Iceman from when Loki wanted him to start the last winter in Thor (when Walt Simonson was writing The Mighty Thor and drawing X-Factor, and his wife Louise was writing the latter); Warren is the angel of death from the Apocalypse incident; Hank is extrapolated into the Brute from all the experimentation his body has gone through; and Maddie is still the Goblyn queen from the Inferno crossover. All extremely geeky, but I can’t help but like it. Sad, isn’t it?
The story is all very silly, with Nick Fury kidnapping Alex and Maddie’s child at Liberty Island, with Elektra as his nanny of course, so we can finish with a fight, but it’s not worth writing about. Mackie has taken an idea, slapped an X in it, got a decent artist to draw it and then frittered it all away. Why this was made into an ongoing series is beyond me. Surely it would work better as a small storyline in an existing series? I know that anything with an X in the title got its own book in the ’90s, but Havok? When did he deserve that sort of treatment? He is a supporting character at best, not the person to base an entire series around. Did Mackie have incriminating photographs of somebody? Or was it because Mutant X was too good a title (in their minds) NOT to use?
Whatever the reason, I am ashamed to own this book. I can’t believe I haven’t thrown it in the dustbin where it belongs. I used to justify retaining it by saying that I liked the Raney art, but that’s simply not good enough. It’s time for me to let go. ‘Indiana, let it go …’