The good thing about the series is the overwhelming tsunami of action that will keep hearts jackhammering in the chests of true X-fans. While "The End" doesn't always bring about a true conclusion in some books in the Marvel series, the X-Men are certainly getting hit where it hurts from beginning to end -- and fans must be prepared to watch their favorites fall in a variety of horrible ways.
It's all-out war on mutants, generated largely because of a conflict among alien races the X-Men and other mutant groups have confronted over the years. And that means pulling out all the stops, with overwhelming forces that simply cannot be halted with fisticuffs and a quick quip. Deaths range from the personal level -- for instance, the heroic final seconds of Rahne "Wolfsbane" Sinclair as she's engulfed in a fireball -- to the widescale destruction when the Xavier school is destroyed in a huge explosion that leaves scores of mutants dead.
It's certainly a different face on comics, where regular readers know their favorite characters are never in any real danger. (Actual deaths are rare, after all, and are almost always foreshadowed far in advance as "events" that usually aren't permanent anyway.)
But there's badness here, too, particularly for those of us who aren't diehard X-readers. Sometimes it feels like this is a "cast of thousands" production and, often, I found myself wondering who the heck some of these characters were. It's hard to get wrapped up in the fates of strangers, and the absence of much real backstory on them makes for bewildering reading. While I understand there was no practical way to squeeze hero biographies into the flow of story, I can't help but think a couple "cast of characters" pages at the beginning of the first volume would have helped immeasurably.
Even worse, however, is the pace with which "X-Men: The End" unfolds. While nonstop action -- filled with major developments, sudden twists and tragic deaths, no less -- can be a very entertaining storytelling technique, there are some limits that must be observed. In this case, things happen so quickly that readers don't have much time to digest one turn of events before they're on to the next. Writer Chris Claremont juggles numerous threads so wildly that it's easy to get confused, and the potential impact of the big stuff is diminished accordingly. Did someone just die? Oh well, I'll worry about it later.
Among the various bad guys at work here, however, the prominent use of Charles Xavier's evil twin -- yes, you read that right, his evil twin -- is a weak choice. And, by story's end, some readers might feel the tone is getting a little too preachy, as X-books are prone to do, as Xavier's "why can't we all just get along and leave in peace?" agenda is pushed.
by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor
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About the reviewer
Tom Knapp (Tom_Knapp)
I founded the online review site, Rambles.NET, in 1999 and continue to operate the site with more than 200 contributors and more than 14,000 reviews in our permanent online archives. A fraction of my … more
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It's the epic finale to the story of the Children of the Atom as renowned X-Men scribe Chris Claremont joins with star artist Sean Chen for a trilogy in the style of the Lord of the Rings movies, one that spans the length and breadth of the X-Men canon and brings the saga of Marvel's mutants to a climax!