I went back and forth on what to write about this week. I considered the Paul Dini/Pat Cadigan Mad Love novelization but while that’s a great book, there’s not much to say about it beyond everything about it is genius. Then there was Picard: The Last Best Hope which was terrible but also only really let me say “this is limp.” I wanted to find something I could actually write on, even if only to give perspective.
So here we are. We’re looking at a 107 page adaptation of a 9 issue X-Men event comic by a writer who seemed to only work briefly in the mid 90s. This should not be fertile ground but it is. This is one of the more intriguing books I’ve actually stumbled on. Why? Well let’s explore.
X-Tinction Agenda is a novelization of the megacrossover of the same name. Three X-Men are kidnapped by rabid mutant hater Cameron Hodge and brainwashed to be his slaves on the island of Genosha. The others have to come and save them. Fights ensue.
This is a simple, to the point plot that stretched nine agonizingly padded issues in the comics. I don’t like this event or really any event in the 90s in the X-Books at all. Nothing happens. This should be a quick, punchy story and it’s not in the source.
But it is here. In this form, it’s had all the air removed. This is all the beats sped up to form a nice, potent read. Despite being a very short read–if this is over 8K words I’m shocked–it’s got a nice rapid fire pulp energy. Nothing is lost either. All the character beats are here as is the full plot.
And even more than being a good read, this is an interesting artifact of the mid 90s moment where comic book media was big at the same time comics felt bafflingly insular. The book was designed as a bridge for new readers. It told a major event story for fans of the animated series. If you were in third grade, you could read a $3.50 novelization when a $25 trade would make your parents blow a gasket.
Books like this served a great purpose. I actually read several of these via the Internet Library and they’re all the same. High caliber, to the point adaptations. These must’ve ruled to have in a moment when comics weren’t accessible.
And I think that’s the reason they’re irrelevant now. While there are still novelizations of comics here and there, by and large it’s easier to just recommend a comic. If I want to suggest Days of Future Past, I’ll just point to the issues it ran in and within seconds someone can have it via Comixology. If you’re a new reader, your average library can catch you up immediately. And I’m not getting into how great DC Universe and Marvel Unlimited are for next to nothing.
The world has changed for a novice. And that’s a good thing. But books like this are a great reminder that it wasn’t always so. This is a fun artifact. It’s on Archive. Check it out