Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Uncanny X-Men: The Draco Review (Chuck Austen, Phillip Tan)

Uncanny X-Men The Draco Cover Austen Tan Marvel

We can stop looking guys, I’ve found it – the worst X-Men book ever! 

The premise is: Azazel aka Satan is trying to find a way to get to Earth from the nether-realm he inhabits (Hell, I suppose? Doesn’t look it) so he goes to Earth to impregnate a number of women who’ll give birth to a number of demons who’ll then be able to open a portal to allow him access to Earth. Spot the massive plot hole in that sentence? How is Azazel getting to Earth to impregnate women if the whole reason he’s doing all of this is because he can’t get to Earth in the first place? 

Answer: Chuck Austen is a horrible writer who doesn’t know what he’s doing. 

But that’s not the most offensive part of this book, it’s merely a flabbergastingly stupid moment. So one of the women Azazel impregnates is Mystique who gives birth to… Nightcrawler!? So Nightcrawler’s parents are Azazel and Mystique because Kurt looks demonic and his skin is blue like Mystique’s… fart noise. 

Going back to the early days when Nightcrawler was first introduced into the Marvel Universe, he was being chased by people who wanted to kill him for looking like a demon – the key word being “looking”, not “actually being”. He was a mutant and he looked different but he was human – that’s the whole point of the X-Men: that we all look different on the outside but inside we’re all the same. 

That’s why these characters were inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, to draw parallels to black peoples’ plight to get the same rights as white people. By making Nightcrawler AN ACTUAL DEMON, the literal spawn of Satan, then it’s almost like Austen is giving credence to the mobs’ fears of hounding Nightcrawler – they were right, he really isn’t one of us! It completely destroys the whole message of the X-Men and Nightcrawler’s character. Austen completely misunderstood the characters and the series when he wrote this drivel.

There’s some other garbage in here involving Alpha Flight and Juggernaut and how domestic violence is solved with superhero violence that’s in line with the stupidity of the rest of the book, but really the Nightcrawler parentage thing is by far the most jaw-droppingly awful aspect of The Draco. The interesting thing about this book is that the fan reaction was (understandably) so severe that not only was it retconned by every X-Men fan but Chuck Austen was blacklisted by Marvel as a result! Austen then went to work on Action Comics for DC but a grassroots boycott of Austen’s work led to many retailers refusing to stock Austen’s comics. DC tried to control the damage by asking Austen to write under a pseudonym but when he refused, he was fired and blacklisted by DC. He ended his comics career writing porno baseball comics (!!), which was weirdly where he started! 

The Draco was so bad that it destroyed a man’s career! And now it’s rightfully out of print. I found a copy at a used book store and picked it up out of curiosity – I’d heard it was bad, but was it really that bad? It was actually worse! 

Phillip Tan’s art is horribly scratchy and his character designs are just terrible. I’ve never liked his artwork and The Draco just reminded me why. I was stunned to see Sean Phillips attached to this train wreck but I guess he must’ve really needed the cash. Still, what a black mark on your career to be associated with this disaster! 

The Draco: a colossal fuck you to X-Men fans who responded as a group in kind. Now we need to retcon the Man of Steel movie….

Uncanny X-Men Volume 4: The Draco

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