For the past few months, X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue have been trying to recenter Marvel's mutant super teams by getting them back into the sorts of wild adventures that made the X-Men famous.
Nostalgia for the good old days when the X-Men were Marvel's bread and butter has been one of the subtle through lines in all of the publisher's current X-titles. But in this week's X-Men: Gold #13, written by Marc Guggenheim with illustrations from Jay Leisten and Frank Martin, all pretenses of subtlety are dropped in favour of a much more explicit message about out love for the X-Men's past and the uncertainty of their future.
X-Men: Gold #13 marks the beginning of "Mojo Worldwide", the series' first crossover event with X-Men: Blue taking place during Marvel's overarching Legacy event. Like other Legacy tie-ins, the issue digs into its characters' histories to tell a new story about their present selves.
Most Legacy books so far have transported characters through time and space to meet the first generation of heroes with whom they share a codename. Kamala Khan, for example, travelled to the past to meet Carol Danvers back when she still went by Ms Marvel and also ran a popular women's magazine. Because the X-Men are team, though, their Legacy experience is drastically different.
While minding their own business and trying to play a friendly game of baseball in Central Park, the X-Men witness three huge obelisks descend from the sky and crash down into the earth below. The mutants all cautiously spring into action and set out to investigate the alien structures, only to find themselves split up into smaller groups and seemingly teleported to various places throughout Marvel's universe.
Gradually, the X-Men realise that they have all been placed in settings from their previous adventures by Mojo who, fearing declining ratings for his gladiatorial reality TV show that airs in the Mojoverse, decides to hit the mutants nostalgia where it hurts.
While Mojo's plan is a clever way to build on the Legacy event's core concept, it's also kind of a slap in the face when you pull back and look at the odd state of disarray that Marvel has left the mutants in for some time now. It's no secret that, in recent years, the X-Men have become less and less a part of Marvel's core comics brand (presumably) in favour of titles with characters it still owns the film rights to.
That choice makes sense when you remember that Marvel, like all comics publishers and film studios, is a business with a bottom line to attend to, but it still stings a little to see the Goblin Queen Madelyne Pryor and Secret Wars' Storm Thor trotted out as a rating's boost. What's more, as great as it is to revisit some of these old stories, you quickly remember that they're old stories being trotted out yet again rather than giving the X-Men something all-new and all-different to do.
Within the comic itself, the concept works as an excuse to bring the teams together, but from the outside looking in, you can't help but get the feeling that great X-Men stories like those might be a thing of the past.