“If it’s not broken, don’t relaunch it!”
I’m relatively certain that Stan “The Man” Lee said that at least once or twice in his illustrious comic career. So the question is, why doesn’t anyone listen?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about DC pushing the reset button – sorry, the Flashpoint button – and starting over. I’m referring to a much larger atrocity – Marvel’s upcoming relaunch of Uncanny X-Men this November. I have been collecting X-titles for the last 20 years, and my complete X-Men run starts with Giant Size #1 to the most recent issue to hit shelves, #541. I have always loved Marvel’s merry band of mutants since I first saw them guest-star on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in the 80’s.
I understand that sometimes a book that is struggling needs a makeover, or a relaunch, with a new writer and/or artists (see Moon Knight), but that certainly isn’t the case with Uncanny. Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and Kieron Gillen have told some of the best X-stories since Chris Claremont killed off some redhead engulfed by a flaming bird (seriously, issue #136 will change how you look at other comics).
So why the relaunch? Are the X-Men threatening to go on strike? Can readers no longer count past 544? Nope, just a story line that ends up dividing the team down the middle, with Cyclops on one side and Wolverine on the other (which conveniently leads to the 5th major X-book, Wolverine & the X-Men). Even though I am thoroughly enjoying the Schism story that split the team, I’m just not convinced that we need to start over with Uncanny #1. That was the last and only Marvel title to avoid the let’s-make-it-easier-on-the-masses-and-try-to-get-more-readers-by-putting-a-#1-on-the-book-(I-think-my-“-“-is-stuck!) And what always happens with those titles after being relaunched? Captain America #600, Daredevil #500, Spider-Man #500. Noticing a pattern?
So at the end of the day, I guess I’m bitching for nothing, because we are only 56 issues away from Uncanny X-Men #600. Not to spoil it like the Titanic sinking at the end of the movie, but I’m guessing the team reunites just in time to switch back to the original numbering convention and celebrate another Marvel anniversary. And let’s be honest – Marvel will get my money whether they relaunch, renumber, or just shit on a piece of paper and call it X-crement and the X-Men.