X-Men Forever Alpha review

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON COMICZONEAZ.com (website no longer active)

X-Men Forever Alpha 
Writers: Chris Claremont & Jim Lee 
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams 
Marvel Comics 

So, for the uninitiated, X-Men: Forever will be a mini-series from Marvel, with the premise of “If Chris Claremont didn’t get booted off the X-Books in 1991, leaving Jim Lee to take over as writer for the next year starting with issue #4, these are the stories that would have been told.”  It’s an interesting concept, although it’s been 18 years since Lee took over for Claremont. I suppose it’s better to do it almost two decades later than it would’ve been to have split realities for the X-Men at any point at time.

I question the intelligence of this, though. Essentially, this is a “What if Earth was different?” story, where Marvel aren’t just telling new stories in their universe, they’re essentially playing with real reality. If this is an isolated incident, then that’s fine. But I’m a bit fearful of where the X-Franchise goes after this experiment, and I wonder where the line is drawn for these alternate universe stories?  For example, let’s suppose Stan Lee decided he was going to do Fantastic Four: Forever, and just tell FF stories from when he and Jack Kirby stopped working on the book, at issue #104? FF is at issue 566, this month. That means 462 issues of Fantastic Four just didn’t happen in this split world.  And then the fanboys get to argue over which reality is better; Is the regular Marvel Earth-616 the way that things should’ve gone? Or should we go with the Forever realities?

On top of that, I wonder what Marvel are thinking by doing a story that didn’t happen? The majority of people this will appeal to are people who were reading X-Men back in 1991, which, again, was 18 years ago. There’s an entire generation of readers that wasn’t even alive when that happened, and now we get a big reboot from back then? They won’t have read the stories that this is supposed to be continuing, will they have? 

Ah, enter X-Men: Forever Alpha. In case you haven’t read X-Men #1 (which is hard to believe, considering it sold 11 million copies or whatever), #2, or #3 from 1991, XMFA reprints those three issues! It also includes a back-up story that apparently bridges the gap between X-Men #3 and XMF #1.  So, for five bucks, you get reprints of comics from 18 years ago, plus 8 or so pages of new material.

I suppose that’s not a bad deal, all things considered. It’s kind of like a mini TPB, really.

X-Men: Forever seems like it’s going to be for completists, or for X-Men fans who stopped reading (Ex-X-Fans?) when Jim Lee took over. But if you’re going to check it out, this is definitely a good item to pick up and get yourself re-acquainted with the late 80s/early 90s team.  Or just dig through your back issue bins and read these again. ‘Cause those eight pages in the back aren’t really that important.

Or you could buy both covers, to re-create the poster found inside the fold-out cover of X-Men #1.

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