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As already mentioned in my retro review of X-Men 2099 #25, a new creative direction was taken for the futuristic mutants of Marvel (who got back together after being apart for long) and the monthly series itself while still maintaining connection with the rule of Doom 2099 (already driven by Warren Ellis as the writer) as the US President. That story ended with noticeable changes on the characters, especially on Xi’an who ended up nothing like the strong and driven X-Men leader he was in X-Men 2099 #1. As such Tim Fitzgerald/Skullfire, who went through a lot of emotional struggles and confusion, finally learned to be strong to become the mutants’ new leader.
In this review, we will take a look at the aftermath of the events that happened in the above-mentioned anniversary celebration issue. Series lead creators John Francis Moore and Ron Lim took another shot heading towards the new direction in X-Men 2099 #26 published by Marvel Comics in 1995.
The comic book opens with Doom 2099’s Minister for Humanity Morphine Somers waking up and learns from his digital assistant that disaster happened in the White House (refer to Doom 2099 #33).
The story then shifts to Halo City which is the walled mecca which continues to attract some hundreds of thousands of misfits, mutants and refugees who seek sanctuary from the mega corporations which have dominated societies in most cities around the United States. In the middle of the traffic jam going into the city, a man decides to get out of the taxi and head on by foot.
The man is identified as Gunnar Tristan, an entertainment journalist. As the city authorities examines Gunnar, a man wearing a shirt looking like the American flag fires a shot at one of the security personnel.
“Down on your knees and pledge allegiance! The time’s come to sweep out all the genetic trash that’s polluting this great country. I got a thermonuclear bomb that’s gonna wash this mongrel city of the taint of foreigners and freaks,” said the armed man.
Just as Gunnar is about to fire, Henri Huang/Meanstreak of X-Men 2099 intervenes to prevent anymore danger from happening. Meanstreak is with teammate Krystalin and seen on their clothes are V-like symbols. They are now officially working for the city authorities as the mutant protectorate….
Clearly following up on the ending of X-Men 2099 #25, this story delivered strongly on showing the futuristic X-Men as Halo City authority members which is a drastic change from their past as outlaws and misadventure participants.
A strong element in this comic book is character development and it shows the former X-Men leader Xi’ian feeling guilty and has gotten obsessed with healing sick people as a way to atone for his sins. At this point of time, Xi’an went from a bag guy into a reformed man (X-Men leader) into a bad guy again before ending up weak and confused. This puts him yet again into conflict with his long-time trustee Shakti/Cerebra (who by this time can be seen as a suitable team leader with a very strong moral direction). Skullfire meanwhile is feeling uneasy with his team working for an administration and it can be seen that the time he spent in the wilderness took its toll on him.
When it comes to art, Ron Lim pushed his creativity hard this time by establishing the overall look of Halo City and how it is transforming into a hot bed for people who don’t want to live in a place monitored always by mega corporations. On characters, I should say that Lim’s designs for the new villain group The Undead is not very captivating although one of them really looked horrifying. On action scenes, Lim continued to deliver the goods.
I should say that I like this comic book a lot. It’s got more character development scenes and story build-up with noticeably lesser spectacle (which is not a problem at all). Being the 26th issue of the X-Men 2099 monthly series, characterization really had to be prioritized by the creative team to emphasize the bold, new direction taken. Just to see the X-Men become authority members even though they are not really qualified is just intriguing!
What makes this particular old comic book special in a rather bizarre and accidental manner is the raging debate about how America of today should handle its immigration problems especially with hot topics like securing the borders, building the wall along the south border with Mexico, and deporting as many illegal immigrants (even those who have families in America, established business and paid taxes) as possible. Back in the year this old comic book was published, immigration was not such a hot topic and there were even more Democrats (including then US President Bill Clinton) who favored stricter moves to curb illegal immigration.
The presence of the armed man who despises foreigners and mutants is now more socially relevant to see. It’s so symbolic, you should look at the page below.
If you are seriously collecting comic books, be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that a near-mint copy of X-Men 2099 #26 regular edition is worth $4 while the near-mint copy of the newsstand edition is worth $8.
Overall, X-Men 2099 #26 is highly recommended.
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