GeNext #1–5 by Chris Claremont and Patrick Scherberger
This mini-series is described as the project the readers demanded – a poll on Marvel.com to see what Claremont should write next resulted in this book. The premise is that the Marvel universe aged in real time, making the X-Men in their 50s and the New Mutants in their 30s, and this is the new generation of mutants learning to be X-Men (supposedly set some years after the events of The X-Men: The End, although with some discrepancies between the two stories). Which is about the extent of the explanation you get: the story throws you into the middle of things and you have to go with it.
The book introduces us to Becka Munroe, Oliver Raven, Pavel Rasputin, Rico and No-Name, the latest students and the Xavier Institute – but with no other background information. Thanks, Chris. It could be because nobody seemed to edit this book – there is an image of Henry ‘The Beast’ McCoy which bears the narration box ‘Henry Pym’; good job, Marvel. Also, nobody seemed to curb Claremont’s unusual and idiosyncratic verbal tics – a man using the word ‘chica’ to talk to a woman in a derogatory fashion; the same man uses the word ‘meat’ to talk about a boy he’s beating up; teenagers talk as if they’re adults in a stage play, when they’re not using Claremontisms such as ‘with good reason’ or ‘count your blessings’ or ‘from your mouth to God’s ear, my friend’ [who says that? Because it’s used several times in the book], ‘oh fearless leader’).
The story is a rather traditional Claremont tale of young kids being spunky and fighting people way out of their league – the ‘Dark X-Men’ from another dimension (a Claremont invention when he returned to the X-books) appear as bad guys, making it all a bit too silly for plausibility. However, the characters themselves have something interesting about themselves – Claremont did have a knack for creating intriguing new characters when he set his mind to it – even if mystery is one of those interesting aspects.
The best part of the book is the art – Scherberger draws good teenagers: they are thin and angular and ungainly but also charming. His adults don’t work quite as well but has a very good line, a really strong style (a bit like Humberto Ramos, but more focussed), and very good storytelling skills. I hope he has a good career ahead of him.