Thursday, September 28, 2006

UXP # 62: Age of Apocalypse # 1: "Legion Quest"

X-Men # 38, Uncanny X-Men # 319, X-Men # 39, X-Factor # 108-109, Uncanny X-Men # 320, X-Men # 40, Uncanny X-Men # 321, Cable # 20, and X-Men # 41

Just a few things we need to address before we get moving along, here, gang.

First of all, we've reached the "Age of Apocalypse," which is a few massive crossover and story. Therefore, I've broken it down into various segments and have decided to go for a similair format we used with "Cleaning Out the X-House."

Secondly, I think I should talk very briefly about the role "Age of Apocalypse" seems to have played in the readership and overall X-Men fandom. From what I've seen, X-Men readers are divived in three ways:

1) That this is among the greatest X-Men stories ever to be produced (after "The Dark Phoenix Saga," according to some polls I've seen).
2) That this story is good, but not nearly as good as the 70/80s X-books and 2000s X-books.
3) That this was the story that turned readers off the X-Men.

Interesting make-up, huh?

So, let's go diving in, I'll share my thoughts and you can read them and not post any comments because I have no audience. :(

"Legion Quest" is pretty much the must-read kick-off of the "Age of Apocalypse." It is what starts off the massive change in the X-Men's universe.

David Haller (aka Legion) has comatose for quite a while. Recently, though, he's been having dreams about Destiny, the woman he had killed a number of years earlier. As he's having these dreams, we see the X-Men struggle with personal issues:

Trust problems between Gambit and Rogue. Scott's grandfather crashes his plan and meets up with Adam-X (the X-Treme!) and remarks how similar Adam and his grandsons are. Bobby and Rogue head up to have dinner with Bobby's parents and we once again learn just how much of an ignorant jerk his Dad is. Jean and Betsy resolve their differences. Warren and Betsy grow closer. Gambit threatens Sabretooth regarding Rogue.

It's not long, then, when Legion visits his Dad in Charles' dreams. In said dream, Charles and Erik (Magneto) talk about the effects that Erik had on Charles' dream of Mutant/human existence. David then shows his father that Erik ruined the dream by making Mutantkind viewed negatively in the public eye.

And that's when the shit hits the fan.

X-Factor track down Mystique to Israel, where David is currently being treated whilst comatose. Mystique is after him for killing Destiny in the first place, having been manipulating Forge for a good while to get to this position. They confront her in David's room with Gaby Haller (David's Mom), when he suddenly wakes up, his mind whole and no longer suffering from Multiple-Personalities. Mystique makes a run for it with X-Factor in pursuit. Meanwhile, David's got Destiny yapping in his mind and goes after both X-Factor and Mystique to deal with them. He sends X-Factor away, has a heart-to-heart with Mystique, and then wanders off.

And then, the X-Men get involved. Bishop, Phoenix, Iceman, Storm, and Psylocke head to Israel to deal with David. They discover that the Israeli army and PLO are working side-by-side near a massive energy dome erected by David to keep them out. The X-Men find a way in, fight with Legion, and learn just what he's up to. He plans on going back to when his father and Magneto were friends (about the time he was concieved) and killing Magneto so that he is unable to taint Charles' dream.

Storm, Psylocke, Bishop, and Iceman are all drawn back 20 years with him, leaving Phoenix in the present. She calls for help and the rest of the X-Men show up (being Cyclops, Beast, Rogue, Gambit, Archangel, and Professor X) to figure out what's going on. They then call upon Cable and Domino to access Cable's time machine, which is unfortunately deep under the ocean surface and unreachable (for the most part). If that's not enough, Lilandra contacts the X-Men, telling them that M'Kraan Crystal is acting all funky and the results of Legion's time tampering is causing the universe to crystalize.

In an attempt to reach the X-Men in the past and let them know what's happening with the M'Kraan Crystal, Cable is projected to Bishop and the others. As it turns out, the past X-Men are suffering with a bought of partial amnesia. Luckily, Cable's "reach out and touch someone" to Bishop works out and the X-Men go after Legion as he attacks the young Magneto. Legion tears through the X-Men and prepares to deliever the final blow to Magneto . . . when Xavier shoves himself in the way, saving his friend at the sacriface of his own life.

And Charles Xavier is dead, twenty years earlier. Legion, Storm, Iceman, and Psylocke are pulled from that time peroid and tossed back home to align themselves with the new changes in teh timeline. Bishop is left behind, as he is a chronological anomaly. In the present, the crystal wave comes to Earth. Xavier says a tearful good bye; Scott and Jean come clean about Redd and Slym with Cable; and as the wave overcomes them, Rogue kisses Gambit. The entire Earth - all of the X-Teams - are crystalized by the reality bending properties of the M'Kraan Crystal. Then everything (all of the Universe 616) shatters as per the crystalization wave.

So let's do a review of these events.

For the most part, "Legion Quest" is a good read. David Haller shines as a messed up character who (even though a little more than crazy) is willing to do anything for his father. His motives and demeanor are almost childlike, which works because David hasn't been David since he was a boy. Now, the X-Men themselves in dealing their deaths, are suberb. We see character arcs leap forward, esspecially with the Summers family and Rogue/Gambit. I also feel the need to appluad the acknowledgement of the crystalization effects in the other books released that same month (though I don't have them all and decided not to include the ones I do have) in the final pages. We really get a feel for where we're leaving these X-Men we know and love.

Now, for as good as "Legion Quest" is, there's a question that lingers for me. Why now? Was David somehow aware of the conflicts within his father (such as the results of wiping out Magneto's mind)? Did his telepathic powers make him hear the results of the EMP that Magneto launched during "Fatal Attractions?" Was it perhaps that he sensed that Mystique was after him and decided whatever he was going to do, he had better hop-to? And why Israel twenty years ago? Why not go after Magneto during the Holocaust? Or right after he stole Baron whathisnamefromHydra's gold? I suppose, though, now that I think about it, this time could be significant for David as it was the time he was concieved. (I feel the need to point that David kissed his Mom, disguised as Charles. It's slightly implied there's more to it. Could it be that David is his own father? VOMIT!)

The best part of "Legion Quest," at the end of the day, is showing Charles and Erik as actual friends. Before, all we had was "we were friends once" and three panels of them hanging out with Gaby between their first meeting and their battle with Hydra. Bringing the Charles/Erik friendship up front and center allows more grounding for us to see them not as advaries, but as buddies. It also makes us give a damn when they have to face off with Legion and when Charles sacrifaces himself for Erik.

Some great temporal drama here, folks. It only lead to bad things for the X-Men.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 61: "Generation X"

X-Force # 39, Uncanny X-Men # 318, Cable # 17-19, Generation X # 1-3

X-Force # 39 kicks off yet another foray into the X-Men world with an unusual story. As it turns out, the Phalanx sent an agent to X-Force's base at Camp Verde. Once there, however, it managed to absorb Cable's computer buddy, "Professor" (formerly known as "Ship," but that's a story for another time). The two of them merged being became known as Prosh. However, Prosh's newly gained body spells trouble for Cable, as it aggrivates his Techno-Organic Virus, causing it to go all whacky. Prosh then decides to leave for the stars, but takes out X-Force's base in the meantime.

Hoping over to the X-Men's world, Sean and co. are ready to head up to Emma's old Massachusetts Academy to form Generation X, where all the kids recovered from the Phalanx will train to become the next generation of X-Men. It's a surprising heart-warming story where we get a nice introduction to the characters without those pesky Phalanx guys runnin' around. Monet's a snob, Paige's a hick, Angelo's a freak, and Everett is the normal guy. Toss in an uncertain Jubilee and a testy Sean and Emma, and we've got a great bunch.

Meanwhile, Cable pops by the mansion with Domino at the behest of Scott and Jean. What follows, however, is the delievery of news to Storm that there might be Morlocks still alive. The trio head down there and discover Caliban being chased by a slightly revamped Dark Riders, testing Caliban to see if he is worthy to survive. After the guys help Caliban out, they track down the Dark Riders to Akkaba, Apocalypse's birthplace. There, Cable finds Tyler, looking to become Apocalypse's hier, Genesis. There's a ruse and then a battle in which Tyler vanishes, leaving Cable upset.

Then we get down to the main event. Generation X. The team interacts with each other before meeting up with Jonothon Starsmore (Chamber) at Logan International Airport. Jonothon's problems? His chest and lower jaw blew apart and consist of telepathic energy to keep him alive. As Jubilee, Everett (Synch) and Banshee pick him up, they're attacked by a Mutant vampire of sorts named Emplate. M, Emma, Husk (Paige), and Skin (Angelo) enter the fray thanks to new arrival Gateway. After defeating Emplate and heading home, Gateway drops off a little present for Generation X - a mute w0man with diamond hard skin named Penance (as named by Gateway, who spoke for the first time ever). Generation X chases her around the grounds before Chamber talks her into seeking refuge with them.

Generation X is among my favorite X-Men titles, perhaps even my favorite beyond the core books. There's a lot to love about these characters. They're very relatable and extremely well written. Add in Chris Bachelo in his prime, and it's a hit.

As for Cable, Jeph Loeb and Steve Skorce knock the story outta the park. This team has a way of taking the very convulted Cable and setting him on the right track by making his background interesting and accessible. Nieciza disappoints on X-Force, though he did manage to make the story interesting, at least.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 60: "Phalanx Covenant"

Uncanny X-Men # 316, X-Men # 36, Uncanny X-Men # 317, X-Men # 37, X-Factor # 106, X-Force # 38, Excalibur # 82, Wolverine # 85, Cable # 16

Okay. This is a tough one. You see, this is another crossover, but it's a smidge different. So I'm going to give you the basic premise, then break it up into little nuggets. Ready? Here we go.

Cameron Hodge, old-schooler Stephen Lang, and a number of other humans that hate Mutants have used Warlock and Doug Ramsey's genetic samples to infect themselves with the transmode virus, which in turn, allows them to join in with the alien collective life-form known as the Phalanx. Fun ensues.

With the first third of the story (dubbed "Generation Next), Banshee finds that all of the X-Men save for Emma Frost, Jubilee, and Sabretooth have been replaced by Phalanx duplicates. The Phalanx, under orders from Hodge and Lang and working for the seperated being called Harvest, are after the "next generation" of Mutants - being Paige Guthrie, Monet St. Croix, Jubilee, Everret Thomas, Angelo Espinosa (take that, Chuck Austen), and Clarice Ferguson. Unfortunately, the Phalanx grab everyone but Everret and Jubilee. These two, along with the Emma, Creed, and Sean, go after Harvest and the next gen. A battle ensues and Clarice sacrifaces herself by "blinking" Harvest out of existence, thusly saving everyone else.

The second portion of the story ("Life Signs") centers around X-Force, X-Factor, and Excalibur. Professor X has summoned them after Muir Island is taken over by the Phalanx, the aliens hoping to find a way to find a way to transmode Mutants. It's while the teams assemble at an old Acolytes base that Cannonball, Forge, and Wolfsbane meet with Douglock. As it turns out, Douglock is a combination of the genetic templates of Warlock and Doug, whose cells were blah blah blah. You read two paragraphs up. Anyways, Cannonball doesn't trust Douglock, but Wolfsbane does and Forge is facsinated by the Phalanx. They foursome teleport to where one of Phalanx (another one that has broken off from the collective mind) named Shinar is building a transmitter to summon the rest of the Phalanx. Cannonball, Douglock, and Wolfsbane find a way to work together while Shinar manipulates Forge into maintaining, uh, baby Phalanx . . . es. A team them shows up, helps beat people up, and the day is saved! Except . . .

Just where are those pesky X-Men? And what about Lang and Hodge? In the final part of this story ("Final Sanctions"), Cyclops and Phoenix are reunited with both Cable and Wolverine on Muir Island, which is overrun with Phalanx. From there, the four track down the captured X-Men and the base of the Phalanx at the Mt. Everest. There's a battle, the X-Men are freed, Hodge and Lang kinda blow up, and all of the Phalanx are destroyed.

So what do I thnk of this? Well, to be honest, it's probably the worst X-Men crossover to date. Lousy coordination, thinly plotted, and just an overall mess. The writers - Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, and Larry Hama - don't seem to have a full grasp on what they want the Phalanx to be. One minute, they're an experiment gone wrong. The next, they're a new alien species. Then, they're the new generation of Warlock's race.

Secondly, there's very little characterization in this story. While yes, the Cable/Phoenix/Cyclops dynamic is pretty cool all post-"Adventures," it's one of the few shining character developments around. This really felt like a vehicle for Generation X and Douglock - both of which aren't around 10 years later. But there's nothing personal at stake here. We know the X-Men are captured, but we have no real sense of danger towards them. We know the world is at stake, but there's no clear picture of it. And while the idea and even the imagery of Phalanx is neat, there's nothing to them but a convulted, uninteresting mess. Half the time, the villians are breaking off from the collective mind to do things that are just as evil if they had remained connected. Having them disconnected adds far too much crap to the story. At the end of the story, I don't care about these characters like I did Magneto, Stryfe, Maddie, or Apocalypse. Heck, at least Sabretooth and Hodge were interesting back in "Mutant Massacre" and "X-Tinction Agenda," respectively.

The art is such a mixed bag, too. Joe Mad, Adam and Andy Kubert, and Tony Daniel kick ass. They bring some great texture to the story, fleshing it out best they can. But the work of Ken Lashley, Steve Skorce (which is a big surprise), and Jan Dureshma (sp) fails to interest or excite.

I'll grant that there are some nice moments to this story. Banshee and Emma get some nice development, setting up a nice foundation for what's to come. I mentioned the Summers family, but Logan has some good moments with both Scott and Jean, too. It's also neat to see a crossover that barely has the X-Men at all (save for Scott, Jean, Logan, and Sean) except for the very ending. On the same token, seeing Professor X boss around X-Force, X-Factor, and Excalibur is a nice switch.

But let's face it - even with all that, this story is flat and flimsy.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 59: "Developments"

X-Men # 31-32, Uncanny X-Men # 311-314, X-Men # 33-34, Excalibur # 78-80, Uncanny X-Men # 315, Cable # 15

I think "Developments " describes this peroid in X-Men history very well.

Things get started with Revanche going after her former lover and assassin for the Hand, Matsuo. We learn that Matsu had thought that she was dead after Pyslocke appeared to her after coming through the Seige Perilous. As it turned out, there was a telepathic surge and both Pyslocke and Revanche got all mucked up in their heads. When Matsuo found Revanche's body (now co-opted by Psylocke), he thought he could re-shape her into his love. But it back-fired. And now, Revanche (dying of the Legacy Virus and trapped in Psylocke's old body) has gone after Matsuo. Revanche then decides its over and dies. Psylocke, after an encounter with Spiral, heads over to Japan to deal with the loss of Revanche. Matsuo then takes away of all Revenache's memories from Psylocke's mind.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, something happens to the power core and Sabretooth is freed. Bishop tracks him down, and the confrontation forces him to realize that he is literally living in the past and should therefore stop reflecting so much on his past/future. After the power core is restored, there's a energy surge that goes through Emma Frost's comatose body whilst Iceman is checking on her. Iceman then collapse. As Beast, Jubilee, and Professor X work on helping Bobby, Gambit and Storm meet up with Yukio in New York. Yukio fears someone is stalking her, hence the visit. Turns out she's right as techno-organic creatures calling themselves the Phalanx battle it out with the trio. Eventually, they're destroyed. Shortly afterward, Emma Frost wakes up . . . in Iceman's body. Turns out that the energy surge kicked her out of the coma and tossed her into his body. She then runs off, trying to figure out just what happened to her Hellions, as well as using Bobby's powers in ways he had never thought possible. The X-Men reveal the truth to her and restore both and she and Bobby proper.

Then, after hearing a story about Gambit and Sabretooth, Rogue and Gambit's relationship is shaken quite heavily. She finds she can't trust Remy. However, Beast gets some information from Sabretooth regarding the location of Mr. Sinister. Gambit, Beast, Rogue, and Psylocke (the remains of the Blue Team) head off to Scott's old and abandoned orphanage to retrieve information regarding the Legacy Virus. It's there they encounter Threnody again and after finding some shit-ass clones, Threnody sets the self-destruction sequence, and continues to help the X-Men from inside of Sinister's operation.

Meanwhile, some kind of Doug Ramsey/Warlock/Phalanx being calling itself Douglock breaks free from the Phalanx and meets up Stryfe's old right-hand robot, Zero. Zero, as it turns out, has information regarding the Legacy Virus, but is being hunted by Stryfe's robots as per an order to eliminate all of evidence of himself if killed. Zero, with a budding personality, heads off with Douglock, Excalibur and some cheese-whiz family as they search for what Legacy Virus info Zero has. This pretty much goes nowhere fast and Zero downloads any info he can into Douglock before 'spolding.

Back up in Avalon, the Acolyte known as Neophite is put on trail for helping the X-Men back a few issues. Colossus serves as his defense and some loud philosphying about Magneto and Xavier follows. In the end, none of the Acolytes trust Colossus anymore and Neophite is sent back to Earth in exile.

Then, Cable and Domino go on date and encounter the Morlock, Thornn. They then learn that there is the possibility that Mikhail didn't kill all of the Morlocks and had actually sent some of them into another dimension - including one named Sarah.

Overall, an interesting time for the X-Men. We're moving back into a crossover, with all sorts of subplots heading into one unified direction - with the Phalanx in the lead. In some ways, it's very Claremontian. Setting up sub-plots early on, developing just here and there, then having them manifest further down the line. However, Lobdell and Nicieza aren't as good with this as Claremont was. I don't think it's plum necessary to have so many subplots going on at the same time and in many ways, the fault lies on lack of coordination between the two.

Moving on, the art is great. Andy Kubert and Joe Mad take the cake as far as great and dynamic scenes go. Both are able to maintain both energy and intimacy in their artwork. Kubert has grown quite a bit from when he first started.

We get some nice moments with the X-Men, too. Betsy and Warren growing closer. Emma's complete distress. Jubilee bumming around, still dealing with Wolverine's running off. Bishop's angst. Storm's friendship with Yukio. Even Moira gets a shining, if not tragic moment, as it's revealed that she has the Legacy Virus.

Far from the best, far from the worst - it's definetly a middle of the road kind of time for the X-Men.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 58: "The Wedding Saga"

Cable # 6-8, Uncanny X-Men # 308-310, X-Men # 30, Excalibur # 75, The Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix # 1-4, and X-Men # 35

Let's break it down.

Cable # 6-8 answers all the questions left over from the X-Cutioner's Song. As it turns out, Tyler sought to punish the two men who caused him pain in his own era. His adopted father, Cable; and the man that tormented and brainwashed him, Stryfe. It seems to get this revenge, he placed Stryfe's pysche into Cable's brain. Stryfe takes over, wrecks a little havoc, and then goes off and confronts Tyler. Meanwhile, a second Askani unit is sent back to prevent Tyler from doing this. She gets in touch with Scott and Jean and they - with Zero and Professor X - head off to get this all resolved. It is then finally revealed that when Nathan Christopher was sent forward in time, he was cloned by the leader of the Askani, Mother Askani. Stryfe grew up to be the clone under the careful gaze of Apocalypse. Nathan ended gaining the upper hand over the Techno-Organic Virus and grew up to become Cable. Stryfe then dies, as does the Askani unit. Tyler vanishes.

Uncanny X-Men # 308-310 and X-Men # 30 takes us with Scott and Jean's wedding. During a pre-Thanksgiving walk around the estate, Scott and Jean recall old times and we begin to understand their relationship. They've moved forward, putting everything else behind. Then, finally, Jean tells Scott she's ready to be married.

However, Professor X is uncertain. Scott and Jean's happiness causes him to come to term with a failed relationship from his own past. Shortly after the use of his legs and before the formation of the X-Men, Xavier falls in love with a fellow Mutant by the name of Amelia Vought. It falls apart, though, in the face of his dream for Mutants.

Then, on the night of Bachelor Party, Scott and Cable figure things out and take out the Executioner. Fences are mended and Scott arrives at his Bachelor Party a little late.

Finally, the big day comes. Scott and Jean get married. A ton of X-People guest star, including Rachel Summers, who (after a heart-to-heart with Jean), gets her future confirmed as pretty possible.

In Excalibur # 75, however, Rachel is dealt a blow when she learns that the only way to save the time-lost Captain Britain is to switch places with him. With herself pretty much in the cards for the future, Rachel vanishes into the timestream, restoring Captain Britain . . . pretty much.

Good for Rachel, though, she arrives in the far future (and in Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix). For a century, Rachel fights against Apocalypse and forms the Askani Clan, becoming the Mother Askani. She then sends for Nathan Christopher, who is dying the past from the Techno-Organic Virus. Yep. It all comes together when she brings into the present and clones him, creating Stryfe.

Except . . . her plans go hay-wire when Apocalypse attacks, steals Stryfe, and wipes out most of the Askani. Rachel summons her parents from the past (our present - during their honeymoon) and puts them into genetically engineered bodies. Here, they spend the next decade (!) raising Nathan Christopher as their so-called adopted son. It all concludes with a final battle with Apocalypse, in which the three of them are able to wipe out the big guy during a failed attempt to take control of Stryfe's body.

Immediately afterwards, Rachel "dies" and asks Jean to take the name "Phoenix" once more. Jean and Scott then return to the present - being X-Men # 35 (I know I skipped 31-34, but don't worry. I'll get to those next entry). They encounter a powful Mutant female after their return and allow him to know peace.

Let's give it up to Lobdell and Nicieza. Only these two have been able to take the entire Summers and Grey mythos - from early love to the Dark Phoenix to clones to the X-Cutioner's Song - and bring it all together in a neat little package that actually works. The thing that gets me about all of it, though, it that they are both able to take in a very massive, very complicated, and very messy past . . . and made it accessible and interesting.

Despite there being many more key moments for this family ("The Twelve," for example), this storyline is perhaps the best manifestation of the Summers/Grey clan. It feels very much like the emotional culmination of everything that's come before. The first hook-up, the Dark Phoenix Saga, From the Ashes, Nathan's birth, Rachel's arrival, Inferno, Days of Future Present, the X-Cutioner's Song - everything has been building up to this.

And there's more to it than just this. While in the future, we learn more about the time period after the X-Men. Apparently, after the Sentinels are overthrown, a century of peace prevails, lead by the XSE (Bishop's old pals) until Apocalypse returns 100 years after his greatest defeat and takes over. All of this, Cable was sent back to prevent.

In addition, we also get some insight into Xavier's past, which is always a treat. His relationship with Amelia is a trainwreck, but a good trainwreck. And having Magneto be the one in his dream bringing the flashbacks to life is a great choice.

There are tons of character moments in these issues that I could go on and on about. A good look at Scott and Jean's relationship. Great scenes with them and Xavier, with Rachel, and with Nathan that really make them jump off the page.

The story really spans X-Men history. From it's earliest incarnation through flashbacks provided by Jean and Xavier; to more recent history, with a look at the Dark Phoenix, Rachel, and Nathan Christopher; to the far future with the Askani stories -- all of this serves as a broad look at the X-Men from Day Zero all the way to Perhaps Day 5 Ka-Zillion.

Now, it's not all good. I, for one, would have rather seen the Cable/Stryfe/Askani revelation come out during the X-Cutioner's Song. It would have made so much more sense to do so and really would have made the crossover more complete. Instead, you practically have to read these three issues of Cable to know the hows and whys of that crossover.

Furthermore, I was disappointed with the wedding itself. The issue was told completely from Xavier's POV, which hurt the book. Not that it doesn't offer some nice insight, but I would have rather heard it from the prespective of the bride and groom.

But, the art is mostly on par. John Romita Jr.'s work is a mixed bag, but Gene Ha and Andy Kubert do a fine job with their issues, as does Dwayne Turner and Laim Sharpe.

Overall, perhaps one of my favorites stories throughout all the X-History.

(Granted, considering just how many stories I've been reading since I started this insanity and just how many more I have to go, that's may not be saying much)


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Uncanny X-Periment # 57: "Guests"

X-Force # 29-30, X-Men # 27, X-Men Annual # 2, X-Men Unlimited # 3, X-Men # 28, X-Men Unlimited # 4, X-Men # 29, X-Force # 32, New Warriors # 45, X-Force # 33, and New Warriors # 46

Let's run through it . . .

X-Force # 29-30 has Shatterstar captured by Arcade and he faces the mysterious Adam-X, the X-Treme. They then team up and fight their way out of Murderworld. You know, other than his name, I always kinda liked Adam-X. I thought he was a fairly interesting character with a lot of potential.

X-Men Annual # 2 and X-Men # 27 both continue to deal with the Legacy Virus. Apparently, an island has been established by a Mutant named Empyrean to serve as a sort of Leaper Colony for Mutants dying from the disease. Apparently, Empyrean gets off on this or somethin'. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Anywhoo, it's revealed that Revanche is dying of the Legacy Virus as well. So . . . there's some development for her after all this time. The X-Men then find out that Mr. Sinister is searching for a cure to the Legacy Virus and he has recruited a woman named Threondy (whose power is to feel the pain and death of others) into helping him.

X-Men Unlimited # 3 and X-Men # 28 feature the best out of the bunch when the X-Men hunt down Sabretooth. There's all this silliness regarding Clan Yoshinda and whatnot, but eventually Xavier decides to help Creed deal with his problems rather than just beat him up. This means taking him into the mansion. Not all of the X-Men are happy with this decision, but they roll with it.

X-Men Unlimited # 4 reveals that Mystique is Nightcrawler's mother.

X-Men # 29, X-Force # 32, New Warriors # 45, X-Force # 33, and New Warriors # 46 finally take down the Upstarts. Gamemaster challenges all of them (including wannabes like Fernis) to hunt down the former members of the New Mutants and the old Hellions. Since there are characters spreading across both X-Force and the New Warriors, both teams are joined together and face off against the Upstarts. In the end, the game is called off and the Upstarts kinda scatter.

My response to most of these books: "meh."

And I blame Fabian Nicieza, who wrote all of these books. The stories are overly complicated, leading to a mostly boring read. When we do get in touch with the characters, they come off as cliches. There are exceptions to this rule, but we'll get to that in a moment. I'll credit him for using old characters like Arcade and bringing them up to snuff, but Arcade is still as crappy a character as he was when Claremont was writing him.

However, amongst the complicated storylines and the less than stellar super-villians, there are some diamonds in the rough. Despite my loathing of the whole Psylocke/Revanche subplot, I find that suddenly having Revanche contract the Legacy Virus a bold move and one that I was not expecting them to take. It also has put a spin on the relationship between the two. I'll also give kudos to Nicieza for making what could have been a ridiculas character in Adam-X and make him interesting.

I'll also credit him for shaking things up within the team by bringing Sabretooth on board. I know how it gets resolved, but it's cool to see Xavier attempt to almost seek redemption for what he has done with Magneto and his failure with Logan. Archangel's time in the spotlight is very much due. There's also a great scene with some of the X-Men when they go to Harry's Hideaway are 2:00 AM to discuss Sabretooth's incarceration at the mansion.

Where's Storm, by the way? She was Claremont's pride and joy, and despite not being among my favorite characters, I don't think she's had barely any development since pre-Fatal Attractions.

Despite the shining points, the stories fail to excite and interesting, leaving me feel bored and disappointed.