It is my feeling that novels within series must contribute to the overall narrative. I can understand therefore why authors in series often will not make a book that can be read alone. For instance where would The Wheel of Time end up if anyone could jump in at book eight and be able to instantly understand what was going on (Let alone the fact that book 8 is one of the worse examples in the series). However graphic novels and comics are a different matter. Often people (like myself) can only come into a comic book thread at a point nearing the conclusion. I therefore think that graphic novels should allow for more of an opening into them.
That is not to say that X-Men Forever Welcome to Mother Russia did not allow for an opening. Certainly the introduction that explained what had occurred previously was useful. However I do not believe it was executed well and I do not think that I particularly like the overlying arc for the X-Men Forever continuity as explained in this work. Because in this work it was explained to me that Wolverine had died previously (killed by Storm no less), that Kitty Pryde now had one of Wolverine’s claws somehow (details are very sketchy), Gambit has a new look (okay so they took Wolverine and now they altered my other favourite character?), Sabretooth is now allied with the X-Men, there’s a clone of Storm (a teenage clone) and Collosus headed back to Russia to become an item with Black Widow. So what else could be messed up in the world of the X-Men? Oh yeah Beast and Jean Grey decide to become an item by the conclusion of the novel and Professor X has left the team over revelations that mutants burn out young.
In other words this novel took my favourite parts of the X-Men, twisted it around, mangled it somewhat and then spat it back out in the form of a shiny new compilation. The strange thing is that I did not mind reading it too much. However at the back of my mind I could hear myself going: “This is not how you do a good comic let alone an X-Men comic.”
So in the end it was a very weak effort from my perspective. One which I would not have likely bothered reading if I knew what kind of story existed within. Let this be a warning to future graphic novel writers: one does not screw up both Wolverine and Gambit in the same comic!