I’ve been reading comics now for decades, and one of the trends I thought would last forever was the popularity of comics featuring mutants.
However, even I’m surprised at how quickly the mutants have faded away in the last couple of years. Here’s what I think happened!
When Wolverine first joined the X-Men many years ago, he was actually a misfit. He was pretty short and known for not bathing or cleaning himself at all. I remember in particular Storm holding her nose and complaining when having to stand next to him. Also, Logan was a cigar smoker known for chomping on his “cheroots” by the hour.
As time passed, Wolvie “mutated” depending on where he was appearing. He got taller over the years, wore a darker costume, and took up healthier habits like quitting smoking and taking showers. He also moved more and more into a leadership role, which was shown in several animated shows.
I saw an anime series in which Wolverine appeared to be a teenager who wore very fashionable clothes and was as clean-cut as they get! I kept blinking at the screen – was that really Wolverine I was seeing? (Check out the illustration to the right.)
Now, he’s been replaced in the comics! There’s a woman wearing the Wolverine costume these days, and he’s likely dead (although death is NEVER permanent in the books).
OTHER MUTANT CHANGES
There have been a lot of changes in the mutant community over the last 10 years or so, such as Cyclops and Magneto allying with one another. Then the “original” five X-Men came into our current time, and yet reality didn’t explode when they met each other! (So much for that theory!)
The mutants were very prolific for a long, long time, and even the Hulk and Sub-Mariner were considered mutants! Then their numbers were drastically reduced. Scarlet Witch was tremendously powerful, then went away.
Colossus was dead, then he wasn’t. Kitty Pride was holding on to a space ship to keep it immaterial and couldn’t let go. Now, she’s in charge of one of the schools for mutants. I remember recently Iceman suddenly being declared gay after decades of that not even being hinted at. Psylocke went from a mentally powered hero to a ninja.
Professor X – Is he dead now? Or what? What month is it, anyway? Hey, even the X-movies started to lose favor!
See, mutants were something younger readers could identify with. They didn’t belong in society and were searching for their own places in the world. They looked at the rest of us and went, “I’m not like that!” Younger readers, who were going through similar feelings, “got” that perception. I’m not sure children through young adults have the same insights these days. Also, the mutants have been around a long, long time. Younger fans, like the rest of their age group, look at something their predecessors were fans of and turn up their noses. They want something that’s uniquely theirs, after all!
MY TAKE ON WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON
Comics fans like significant things to happen in the books they buy. They don’t want everything to stay the same from month to month. That’s fine until it becomes difficult to track just who is doing what when.
Then, too, as I often like to point out, X-Men continuity is something that has taken constant attention from readers. At any time, an event that took place decades ago in the comics could be referred to in a current storyline.
As long as fans could keep up with the mutants, it was fine. But a few years back, I found myself talking with “former” X-fans. One told me, “Things don’t change for a reason. They just happen to keep me buying the book. I got tired of it finally.”
I knew there was trouble when the X-Men and the Avengers became intermingled. That would NEVER have happened in the past. Now, the Avengers are the big guns in Marvel, and the mutants are … well, just mutants. The number of X-titles has seriously decreased, and I now actually wonder if the mutants could disappear off the comics landscape altogether.
Remember when movie critics were certain there would be “superhero fatigue” in moviegoers? Well, it took quite a long time, but finally “mutant fatigue” hit comics readers!
INHUMANS ARE THE ‘NEW’ MUTANTS
All this has not escaped Marvel’s attention. They tried the usual cast changes and power removals that worked before, but none of that picked up sales as they had in decades past.
So, what’s Marvel doing instead? They’re revamping the Inhumans, who have been around since the early Jack Kirby days of the Fantastic Four, to the status mutants previously held. We see them in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC as well as getting their own movie. Their receiving a LOT of attention in the comics, too!
Can Marvel capture lightning in a bottle a second time? Or will fans realize these are the “new” mutants, similar on many levels to the X-heroes of the past?
I wish I knew the answer to that, but I honestly thought Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy would be their first movie flop! Shows what I know!
What do you think? Is there some way Marvel can revive mutants to their past glory? Will Inhumans be to the House of Ideas what mutants were before? Share your thoughts below!
[signoff predefined=”PayPal Donation” icon=”icon-cog”][/signoff]