xmforev001cvr_col1In May 2009, long time X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont, will be writing the new series X-Men Forever published by Marvel Comics. Claremont, who recently completed a less than satisfactory run on New Exiles, will be joined by artist Tom Grummet.

For the premise of the new X-title, travel back in time to 1991 and X-Men #3 where the X-Men thought they had defeated Magneto for the last time; this is where Forever begins. John L. Byrne took over the writing duties for X-Men beginning with issue #4, and in Forever, Claremont will spin the series in the direction he wanted it to go had he never left. In effect, the title may conflict with current X-Men continuity, as Claremont was unclear in his response to where the series fits in the X-timetable, “The world of this series is very much like that of the 616 Marvel Universe. The setting is contemporary. The year is 2009. The original trilogy [from 1991] that frames the start of this series occurs just prior to the events of Forever. From that point on, anything goes. Everything is up for grabs.”

According to these comments, X-Men Forever seems like a First Class tag would be appropriate. While existing outside of main X-continuity, X-Men First Class, Wolverine First Class, and Weapon X First Class all provide modern takes on classic X-tales, uprooting older versions of characters and placing them in a contemporary setting. This seems like the structure for Forever, and as a result, it raises questions as to how Claremont plans on keeping the series in line with what has already existed in the X-universe. After all, he is continuing a story that began more than 18 years ago. From Onslaught and Age of Apocalypse to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, from M-Day to Messiah Complex, the mutants have undergone quite the overhaul since Claremont left X-Men in 1991. Since then, his role with Marvel shifted from premiere writer to the guy who they give projects to because he keeps sticking around. How Claremont plans to write interesting stories that cannot conclude with a major impact in the X-universe (as the events in Forever will have already occurred when compared to the time line of the current X-books) will be interesting to see play out. Says Claremont, “All of the presumptions we’ve gotten used to over time no longer apply; relationships that we’ve come to take for granted are suddenly cast in question.”

chrisclaremont-1-1804This could prove to be either good or bad for Claremont, as many fans would argue the writer is well past his prime. Since leaving X-Men, it’s hard to find work from the writer that can be considered ‘great’. Amongst Claremont’s best stories are The Dark Phoenix Saga, Inferno, Vignettes, and Days of Future Past. However the most recent of these tales was published in 1988, and Claremont’s modern work is vastly considered to be stale, melodramatic, and outdated. The problem with Claremont is that despite his past successes, his style hasn’t adapted well to fit the fast paced action and minimal exposition structure we have come to expect from the Modern Age comic book. He is notorious for convoluted plot lines (X-Treme X-Men), sub par script writing (New Excalibur), and creating multitudes of one dimensional characters that no one cares about (New Exiles, GeNext).

Perhaps X-Men Forever is Claremont’s chance to redeem himself of his recent work, and remind fans of what made him so awesome in the first place. Forever places Claremont in familiar territory with control over the characters he loves and created (Rogue, Kitty, and Gambit to name a few), while at the same time preventing him from being able to do anything too crazy, as the book takes place in the past. On the other hand, if Forever resembles the stories we have recently come to expect from Claremont, the series will further tarnish the reputation of the man who is responsible for the X-Men’s modern day popularity. If this is the case, fans will begin to seriously question Marvel’s decision in keeping him around, because he hasn’t produced anything worth reading in what feels like forever.

Quotes pulled from Newsarama.com.