Right in time for the holidays is X-Men: Summers and Winter, a new mini trade paperback collecting the Merry X-Men Holiday Special and two key X-Men one-shot stories. It’s a grab bag to be sure, but it’s also some of the most interesting X-Men stories that have come out in the last year. Also contained in this trade is Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 which reveals how Cyclops came back from the dead, and X-Men: The Exterminated, which features Hope connecting with her father Cable indirectly. The stories are different from one another, but also similar in how they capture the heart and soul of these characters.
The book opens with X-Men: The Exterminated by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler with art by Neil Edwards which follows Hope and Jean on an adventure across Cable’s hideouts. It’s always interesting to see Hope characterized well and they do a great job of capturing the complicated relationship she has with Cable. They also throw in a little Deadpool and Bishop action to allow others close to Cable to reflect on the character. Given we now have the younger version of Cable, and Hope’s dad is technically now dead, this story is extra impactful. This is followed up by Chris Claremont and Ramon Rosanas’ Cyclops story which is quite touching. It’s about Cyclops’ role as a husband to Madelyne and father baby Cable. Narrated by Cable himself it’s a nice way to reflect on fathers and family and works well with the Hope story.
Following this is the holiday special, which is written by a treasure trove of creators. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers tell a Jubilee story across the entire book with other creators popping in for 1-page stories in between. Each page serves as a day leading up to Christmas, which makes it like a comic book advent calendar! Highlights include a fun Jean/Deadpool story by Jean Grae and Shawn Crystal that’s funny with a sentimental ending. Leah Williams and Marcio Takara write a good Captain Britain tale, Ed Brisson and Pere Perez deliver a Glob story that has no words and is so damn touching, and Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka give us a Beast story many can relate to when going home to see family. There are more stories, of course, and they’re all different, making this a lot of fun to read.
Wrapping up this book is the Uncanny X-Men Annual by Ed Brisson and Carlos Gomez. For a period Cyclops was dead and this story utilizes flashbacks to reveal how he literally dug himself out of his own grave. I have to hand it to Brisson for giving us a classic X-Men feel with a flashback to Cyclops hanging out in Boston and connecting with a non-mutant MIT student. Even though this is being introduced only now, it adds a bit of weight to Cable’s act of reaching out to this same student and helping develop tech that’ll bring Cyclops back. The means to bring him back is also quite clever as it connects with Jean and the Pheonix. Bringing characters back is never easy and I think Gomez and Brisson accomplish this quite well. I don’t really agree with how Cyclops goes from this story to Uncanny X-Men, but as it stands this is an acceptable way to bring Cyclops back from the dead.
Overall it’s interesting to see these three single issues collected in one trade paperback since they aren’t about the same thing. Then again, acts of goodwill and the heart of a hero are captured in each. It’s a bit of a sentimental read when you sit down and read this cover to cover, which I recommend you do if you haven’t read these stories in awhile.
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