The X-Men have come a long way since the early 90s. In just the last few years, they’ve formed their own island nation, figured out how to cheat death and, well, gotten into a whole interdimensional mess with the first homeworld for Mutants leading to a series of individual contests and eventually a war.
“X-Men ‘92: House of XCII #1” takes all of that at-times-way-too-complicated story and blends it with a much simpler time. This new comic series goes back to the version of the classic X-Men that a lot of fans are perhaps most familiar with – the version from X-Men: The Animated Series. In other words, this first issue takes it back to the 90s.
Those who love X-Men: The Animated Series will be thrilled to see a lineup of X-Men that includes Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Rogue and Beast, all sporting the looks they had in that series. Throw in the same looks for characters like Magneto, Professor X and a many more and you’ve got a full wave of nostalgia coming your way.
However, these X-Men aren’t back in the ‘90s. They’re executing a mission set in the present day mutant-focused stories. On behalf of Krakoa, these X-Men are trying to stop Bolivar Trask from creating the next line of Sentinels and fighting off Orchis before it has the time to form.
These X-Men have also already cheated death, thanks to help from characters who weren’t around back in the ‘90s. However, it’s not just the benefits of today’s modern mutants that are brought back into the ‘90s in this story. There are also some other complications that are going to set up some interesting things going forward.
I’ve already mentioned the nostalgia but it’s worth bringing up at least one more time as it is the most prevalent thing about this issue. Even if you hate the story, if you grew up watching The Animated Series, as I did, you are going to get at least some level of satisfaction just out of seeing the art in the pages of this first issue. Even the cover alone is likely to put a smile on your face.
But it’s not just the art that calls back to this classic era. There’s an element of ‘90s-style writing in this first issue as well. The dialogue feels so familiar, with Cyclops barking orders and Wolverine refusing those orders and going off to do his own thing. It really puts back on your couch, in your X-Men pajamas with a bowl of your favorite sugary cereal on your lap.
That being said, there is a very easy path for this story to fall apart rather quickly. Today’s X-stories follow a very complicated form of story-telling, with seemingly endless different stories taking place at one time. If this series goes on to try and focus on too many different characters or get too deep into Krakoan politics, it can very easily pull away from that ‘90s charm and get lost in that same mess that so many of today’s comics fall into.
It’s all going to come down to which style of story-telling wins out. Will this series be able (or allowed) to follow the much simpler 90s format? Or will it become a part of a much bigger universe which will require somewhere between 10 and 20 different series to fully tell the story? It could easily go either way.