ROUND 1, BATTLE 17
KORVAC SAGA #1
X-MEN ’92 #1
I wanna say up top that I’m not too impressed with either of this weeks offerings. And that’s ok. In any massive, visceral fight to the death, there’s gonna be a few stragglers who just…don’t seem to be on board. You know? The ones that just stand in the arena corners, waiting for enough bodies to drop so they can crawl under them and pretend to be dead already? But it’s like, we know what you’re doing and it doesn’t even work. Of course we’re going to check under the bodies for cowards and make them face each other down. It’s like they think we haven’t done this before. Whatever – the point is that it’s my job as the announcer/writer to make even their cowardice interesting. I have to describe their shaky posture and frightened little faces so well that it’s like that becomes the main attraction.
So let’s start with X-Men ’92, which is based on the original ’90s cartoon. X-Men ’92 was an infinity comic – that’s one of those fancy digital comics where it hides the panels from you and zooms out and stuff. It’s like close-up magic for comic books. And it will help me demonstrate my beef with X-men ’92 perfectly. One of the first pages is the typical “here’s the team” introduction with pictures and a little blurb below them. Because it’s an infinity comic, the panels are being revealed one-by-one, building up the tension. So you click and see Rogue, a little blurb about Rogue, you click again, and there’s Storm! You remember these guys, right!? Oh what fun. But we know the whole time that this is Battleworld and most people are at least bracingly familiar with the X-Men cartoons, so the expectation is that the last panel revealed is going to be some sort of crazy twist. There’s Logan, but he’s got blue skin! Or whatever! Just something fun and different.
It seems like what’s happening with X-Men ’92 is that there’s some kind of extreme loyalty to the original cartoon going on, and then some very minimal changes are being made to make it fit into the Battleworld canon. So like, Senator Kelly is Baron Kelly now, and then we’re done. It left me in a place where I felt like I would just watch the cartoons again if I missed them. It’s nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, which is fine, but doesn’t lend itself to good writing. Especially in the context of a giant event where the whole point is to put strange twists on all the old characters you’re familiar with.
Korvac Saga fits a lot more comfortably within the scope of Battleworld. I guess what made it feel lackluster is that at this point in the game, Battleworld’s separate storylines should be building up and creating an overall emotional tone even when they’re not directly intersecting. And it’s not that Battleworld as a whole hasn’t done that – it’s very clear that this is a world full of 1) strangeness and 2) intrigue. Really the problem is that each series has hit on these notes so heavily and dogmatically that they’ve sort of lost their impact.
I have a feeling that I’d be more kind towards Korvac Saga if it came earlier in the cycle. There’s nothing wrong with the storytelling, and I’d even be on board to read the next issue. It’s just a meta game call at this point – it’s floating in a tank full of other mysterious, strange stories that feel an oppressively strong need to remind the reader of their own mysteriousness/strangeness. That said, it still clearly takes the win over X-Men ’92, which felt like hanging out with old high school friends that want to prove so hard that they’ve changed but still listen to Papa Roach and wear Abercrombie and Fitch.