Token was kind enough to give me a chance to read the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, so first off, thanks Token! Much appreciated!
And secondly - guys, I kind of enjoyed this.
The first thing to keep in mind is that 95% of this arc is utter bullsh. Like, all of the ridiculous stuff - Xavier married to Mystique? Xavier somehow managing to hide a dangerous mutant since the 1960s despite being in space for a long time and presumed dead at least twice? Exodus as an agent of SHIELD? None of that matters. That's Bendis going nuts cuz he knows that at the end of this arc, none of it's going to matter. So I'm ignoring that and throwing it out the window. What DO I like?
Well, I like Beast’s attempt to ask for help and the lack of response. His assertion that humanity doesn’t want to help mutants is a nice story thread that we can see start in BotA, but the problem is that Bendis doesn’t get to write Henry most of the time. Outside of this story in Uncanny, this isn’t a plot that Hank is on in any way, shape, or form, so seeing it play out here is ultimately pointless. And yeah, I know, the whole thing gets deleted anyway, but up until the reset, that’s reality. That is Beast’s reaction and it hints at larger problems. Problems that no other writer has any interest in following, but it’s a nice attempt to give BotA some relevancy. NICE TRY BENDIS!
There’s a thread here that runs through the entire arc that I like. Charles reveals this hidden mutant, yeah, and Scott gets upset that Charles hid this mutant’s powers from him. In Scott’s words, he betrayed everything that he stood for in order to accomplish his goals. But Scott is guilty of the same actions, using the Phoenix Force to remake the world in his vision regardless of how the world felt about it. And now, when the world has denied him every chance to make the world a better place, he decides to take actions that would fly in the face of everything that Charles taught him. Revolution is something that Magneto would fight for, not Charles. But then, at the end of the arc, Tempest shows up and saves the day by manipulating time. Scott even tries to scold her when she tells him how close he came to ruining everything – but she tells him off. She did what she had to do – just like Scott and just like Charles. And it’s BEAUTIFULLY ironic. Here’s a young mutant with incredible powers and no morality – she can do WHATEVER she wants and she even threatens Scott’s life. Isn’t this what the X-Men fear most? A mutant who is willing to do ANYTHING because they’re able to? Scott FINALLY takes the lesson – he isn’t helping. He signs the school over to Ororo and shuts his down.
I’d like to point out that what Eva did is literally no different than what Legion did when he accidentally killed Xavier, or what Wanda did when she created the House of M. But she only killed ONE guy, so I guess that’s okay.
One of the downsides to this arc is that the threat of Scott having legal ownership of the JGS is totally unimportant. Even if Scott wanted the school closed, who’s to stop Logan from taking his space dollars and opening a new school elsewhere? There are no stakes here at all.
Otherwise, everyone’s voices are off. I hate that the X-Men will forgive Jean for destroying a planet, but not Scott for killing Charles. I hate that this arc should really be focused down on Scott, his relationship (for better or worse) with Charles, and Eva and her relationship with Scott, but instead we get a bunch of useless side crap about Muse questioning why they’re training to fight the Avengers, or Illyana catching Doc Strange in bed, or Dazzler’s hatred for Mystique, or Magneto suddenly deciding that Scott is being TOO Magneto like, or Beast getting angry at humanity, or various SHIELD shenanigans. What a waste of page space!
And their first confrontation with Matthew – God in heaven. Why did no one think to find and bring Leech along? Or why not bring Bobby and have him lower Matthew’s body temperature from a distance, eventually knocking him out? Or bring along Empath, who could have kept Matthew calm while someone talked him down? Or send in Kitty, who can FSCKING PHASE through any potential danger? I know the answer, and it’s why Bendis sent Exodus in – the point here is that there was No Other Way. This was Ultimate X-Men all over again, with a mutant so dangerous that there was no saving them in order to save the world. And that CAN be a super compelling story, but again, Uncanny is so isolated that who cares? Outside of this book, this arc will never matter. And despite featuring the entire case of the JGS, none of them do anything or learn anything or experience anything that carries over into their characters.
Why not have Logan approach Matthew with the intent to train him – to do what Charles Xavier would have wanted. Then have Scott approach Matthew, but as a weapon to be used (The whole POINT behind the Schism was that Scott was willing to use kids as weapons while Logan wanted to protect them). And in the end, either Magneto kills Matthew – as he’s so dangerous, he can only make things worse for mutantkind and Erik is the only one man enough to admit it – or have SHIELD do it cuz they don’t care to waste time with a threat this large. HELL, if anything, I would have had SHIELD put together a Mutant Response Squad made of Exodus, Mystique, and Leech. Mystique gets in close to Matthew as Charles Xavier, giving Leech the chance to shut off his powers, then Exodus kills him from a distance. The X-Men are outraged, but legally they can’t stand against SHIELD and SHIELD is too powerful for them to take on here. This would have upped the tensions between SHIELD and both halves of the X-Men (like Bendis clearly wanted - is Maria Hill in EVERY issue of Uncanny? Cuz it feels like it) and given Dazzler more personal motivation to go against SHIELD. Why is Exodus there? WHO CARES, IT’S A BENDIS BOOK, I DON’T HAVE TO CARE ABOUT MOTIVATION.
Or we could have kept the JGS out of this completely (since they aren't affected by this in the slightest) and instead pick up some MORE BotA plot pieces. Have the Brotherhood show up to recruit Matthew as a weapon (they have AN Xavier, yeah? And F-Beast is already paranoid about SHIELD distrusting mutants!) while Cyclops shows up to help him. The rest of the arc can play out the same basic way since none of this matters.
There’s also something bitterly ironic about having Bendis bad mouth Adam-X right next to the New Amazing and Totally Interesting Goldballs, The Best New X-Student Ever. *sigh*
It's a shame that it took Bendis nearly 30 issues to teach Scott this lesson. I like a lot of the ideas behind this stuff - most notably, Scott In Shock - but it's just to messy and unfocused and has too many characters and tries to be WAY more than a personal story about one man's failure to save his father and his inability to forgive himself. Why is Dazzler an agent of SHIELD? Why have all of these new, useless students hanging around? Why is Magneto on this team? If this story is about Scott screwing up when he pretends to be Charles, all of these stories need to work INTO that narrative and they just DONT. Have Scott run off Hijack for not listening to orders - despite the fact that he has useful powers and needs help. Have Goldballs die in the field, a mutant unsuited for combat being thrown into dangerous situations. Put Muse - a healer - in a position to have to kill someone in order to save someone. Have Tempest abuse her powers (and the timeline! It's what Bendis does when he writes the X-Men!) but save the day. THIS is the stuff that made me stop reading Bendis' - I can see the Good Ideas behind what he's doing, but I don't like what he does. There's SO MUCH POTENTIAL here that he squanders.
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