Peter Milligan & Mike Allred’s X-Force #116 from 2001, their first issues on the book, spends its’ first 18 pages introducing readers to a new team of superheroes. They were well-branded reality stars that the world loved to watch. They were nothing like the X-Force team of the last hundred-odd issues, they were the new hotness. Peter Milligan & Mike Allred’s X-Force #116 spends its’ last three pages killing almost all of them.
Their run on X-Force (a book later relaunched as and better known as X-Statix) was ground breaking and ahead of its’ time. Besides their cameraman Doop, the characters and concepts from that book have languished in comic book limbo waiting for their moment to return. I wanted to share with you a handful of reasons that I am convinced, that moment is now.
The Reality Star President
Regardless of your political leanings, it is a fact that the president of the United States of America, quite possibly the most powerful man in the world, is a reality star. Trump was better known for his tabloid exploits, movie cameos, and television programs than his board room prowess. When the X-Statix first appeared reality shows were a novelty, they have now grown beyond anything Milligan and Allred could have dreamed. The trappings of a superhero squad who stops being nice and starts being real can be further expanded today because how ingrained the hyper realism and drama of reality shows have become in our day to day culture. The constant cycle of breaking news and deep analysis of interpersonal drama would be the perfect backdrop for the continuing adventures of U-Go Girl and Phat.
The Age of Social Media
This reality show existence we live in now is only possible thanks to the explosion of social media. The X-Statix of today wouldn’t be TV stars, they would be Youtubers, Instagram models, and Reddit icons. The vanity that was exemplified in every member of the team could be easily explored in a world where fans and creators can be in constant contact. The endorphin rush from a Twitter notification didn’t even exist when the book was running. This always on world we live in is the perfect backdrop for the vain and entitled X-Statix. I know I would listen to Lacuna’s podcast or follow Dead Girl’s Snapchat story.
Looking Backward to Move Forward
The big push of the ResurrXion books was to embrace the X-Men’s past while still moving forward as a franchise. The X-Statix could be the perfect addition to that. They were already ahead of their time in 2001 so even a straight rehash would be a great contemporary book. The ResurrXion line up also needs a bit of weird, a bit of danger. Generation X is playing with some unique themes in the trappings of a school book but that is not enough for many readers. X-Statix would be a smart and fun addition to a line that has been successful so far.
In 2001, the top selling book outside of the Big 2 was a relaunch of GI Joe. In 2017 it was a creator owned title. Books that don’t feel like cape comics are selling right now. Saga continues to be one of the best-selling trades month after month. Audiences want books that don’t feel like everything else on the self. Marvel’s more non-traditional lineup, and DC’s Young Animal imprint show that even the biggest publishers are taking note of this trend. This is where X-Statix shines brightest. Even when dealing with such superhero standards like hero vs hero fights or Wolverine guest appearances, the book felt unique. A ton of responsibility for this falls on Mike Allred’s pop art sensibilities. The juxtaposition of art that echoed Kirby with the cynical and smart dialog was a winning combination that stuck out compared to the rest of the X-Line. Not only is the Big 2 market ready for this, a relaunch would have the potential to be an indie darling and make killer sales in the bookstore market.
Pushing the Boundaries
The most important thing a book like X-Statix could do is push the boundaries of what an X-Men book can be. It is discouraging that the last time the X-Men made a significant move forward was in 2001 with the dual threat of X-Statix and New X-Men. X-Statix, being a team of Z-Listers with great branding allows creators to push the envelope and do stories where the heroes engineer a way to get an annoying young fan killed in action. Perhaps a 2017 relaunch of X-Statix would allow more controversial ideas like the resurrection of Princess Di to actually go through instead of shying away at the last minute. This medium lives and dies based on superheroes, if it wants to evolve again, it needs a superhero book to push the boundaries and stand out from everything on the shelf. X-Statix was once that book, and it can be it again.