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X-Men Gold #7 and X-Men Blue #7 Or How To And How Not To Do Tie-In Comics, Respectively

Written by Travisaurus Rex on Thursday, July 13 2017 and posted in Features

X-Men Gold #7 and X-Men Blue #7 Or How To And How Not To Do Tie-In Comics, Respectively

The X-Men get caught up in Secret Wars -- I mean Secret Invasion -- I mean Secret Warriors -- I mean More Secrets of a Call Girl – It’s just Secret Whatever, okay?

If you'll allow me to geek out for a moment...

I'm a huge X-Men fan. Loved them ever since I first watched the cartoon as a wee lad. The cartoon obviously being Pryde of The X-Men (yeah, I'm that old.) I've stuck with Marvel's merry mutants through the good (Whedon, Morrison, & Bendis) and the bad (Raab & Austen), and remain a loyal reader to this day. I'm also a fan of crossover event comics. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'm the only one here at The Outhouse who enjoyed Civil War II [Editor's Note From Tim: He was!] I also think there's a right way and a wrong way to do event tie-in comics, and what we have with X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue is an example of both.

It's no Secret (shhh!) that we here at The Outhouse have been, shall we say 'skeptical,' of Secret Empire ever since Nick Spencer had Steve Rogers utter the words "Hail Hydra" last year, but this wasn't something that personally angered me. I read the first issue of Steve Rogers: Captain America and felt more confused than anything. I picked up the second issue and read how Steve's history was changed by a sentient cosmic cube so that he was always a sleeper agent for Hydra. I said "no thank you, this story isn't for me," took the book off my pull list, mostly stuck to the mutants, and tried my best to forget about Nazis-Cap. Oh yeah, uh, **spoilers** by the way.

Recently the X-Men teams have split up into two books; Cullen Bunn's X-Men Blue, about the time displaced O5 team, and Mark Guggenheim's X-Men Gold, a throw back book in the vein of the Clairemont/Byrne run. Both are fun reads and you should check them out. Meanwhile in Secret Empire, Nazis-Cap's plans have come to fruition as Hydra has taken over the United States. At least I assume since I'm not reading it. But being that it's a huge summer crossover, it's obviously going to have miniseries and tie-ins and this month Secret Empire has not so secretly tied into the X-Men and, as the headline suggests, one of them did it right and one of them did it wrong. First lets take a look at

The Right Way: X-Men Gold


This issue is essentially a Red Skies crossover. For newer readers that means

"When a comic slaps a big, visible "Crisis Crossover" logo on the cover, but has only a token Shout-Out to the Big Event that only peripherally affects the plot of the issue in question."

In the case of this book, that's a good thing. The issue starts out with the characters living their lives. Colossus and Kitty have a nice moment together, as do Rachel and Nightcrawler, we're even treated to a X-Men baseball game. Suddenly the skies change color, demons start attacking Manhattan (because apparently that's part of Secret Empire too, I guess) and the X-Men have to run off and help where they can, but when they're away a (previously set-up) threat begins attacking the mansion. It works because we're introduced to the crisis as the characters are, if you don't know what's going on with Hydra, then no problem, as you know as much as the X-Men do. Character arcs and story threads aren't hijacked in favor of the larger event and I'm not lost as to whats going on. And then there's the other way to do a tie-in.

The Wrong Way: X-Men Blue

In the previous issue of X-Men Blue, the O5 plus the son of Wolverine from the Ultimate universe (no, trust me, it works!) are about to begin their ninja training. When this issue kicks off, Hydra has given control of California to Emma Frost, now the O5 team lead a resistance movement as dissenting mutants are placed in telepathic "reeducation" camps. Wait, what?!

All of this happened off-panel, at least it did if you're not reading Secret Empire. Not only does Emma control California, but Beast appears to be a willing participant in all of this, and other well-known mutant characters are wearing black suits and jack boots, aiding Hydra. Apparently, Marvel isn't content into only turning Captain America into a fascist. These are big events with lasting consequences, too big to happen off panel. All of this would be fine, mind you, if I was given some clue as to where I could read where all of this happened. No editor's note saying, "check out Secret Empire issue # whatever," no Secret Empire: X-Men one-shot where I can see how Emma consolidated her power and convinced Beast to join her cause. No, to understand this story I must buy the entirety of an event series that I have no interest in spending my money on. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a cheat. Marvel failed to garner my interest for their series proper so they hijacked a story I'm interested and leave me confused, as though I was reading a novel and a hundred pages in the middle are suddenly torn out.

Last year Marvel produced a Civil War II: X-Men miniseries that was also written by Cullen Bunn. It told the tie in story of what the X-Men were doing during Civil War II and was dependent on you having read the main series. That's a preferable way to go as well, because then the reader knows they need to have a knowledge of the event series. This hijacks the story that I was enjoying, trying to force me to buy a series I don't want.

[Edit: After writing this it was made aware to me that Emma's story can be seen in Secret Empire: United. My issue's of lack of clarity and hijacked story arcs remain.]

Word has it that after Secret Empire, Marvel is taking a break from line wide crossovers. I hope so because it's tie ins like these that sour me on events as a whole. Maybe Marvel can learn a lesson from themselves and do more tie-ins the right way once the events start again.

But those are just my thoughts. What say you loyal readers? Have you been enjoying the X-Books of late? What are your thoughts on Secret Empire? Let me know how much of a whiney snowflake you think I am in the comments below.


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