Friday, December 21, 2007

Intermission: Technical Difficulties

Unfortunately, we've run into some problems here. My laptop has decided it hated it's adapter and thus, made it go "BOOM!" Er, kinda. More like "SPARK!"

Anyways, up-dates won't resume until after the new year. Get ready, though, because I am going ape-shit crazy with "Civil War." Just you wait!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 142: "Bride of the Panther"

Black Panther # 14-17

So, T’Challa needs a queen. Who does he want? His first love, Storm. He proposes, she’s uncertain, they fight the Arabian Knight, she talks to T’Challa’s Mom, and then says yes. Then they track down Ororo’s grandparents and T’Challa goes to a Luke Cage thrown bachelor party.

And that’s pretty much that.

(Yes, I know I’m not including the actual wedding, but just wait; it’ll be here next week)

I’m a little uncertain about this. I’m a huge fan of Priest’s run on Black Panther and while Hudlin is a full competent writer, he just doesn’t bring into the story as much as Priest did back it the day. The whole wedding idea seems forced, despite the winks and nods we’ve had over the years (okay, like, twice). It’s not the world’s worst idea, I suppose, but it just doesn’t . . . I dunno . . . sit right. It’s too fast, too soon.

In addition to this, his Storm just isn’t clicking with me. She just doesn’t seem like herself. Storm is a complex character. She’s hard and tough, stern – yet calm and gentle when she needs to be. She takes her responsibilities with the X-Men seriously. You just can’t go up to her and say “Hey, let’s be girlfriend and boyfriend!” or “Hey, let’s get married!” Hudlin writes Storm as being far more passive and emotional than she has been. I’m not impressed by his Storm.

Now don’t get me wrong, because I do like the idea of T’Challa and Storm getting together. I rooted for them back during Priest’s run. I just feel as though it all has gone too fast. And maybe I’m wrong on Storm. We’ve seen – over the past couple of years – a growing schism between her and the others. It started with the X-Treme X-Men and even after they moved back in with the X-Men, she decided to stay in Africa. Maybe she feels as though the X-Men have limited themselves. Maybe she feels that it’s time she sought after her own lot in life and being with T’Challa (her first love) can help her make a difference.

See? It’s not hard to justify her being with T’Challa, it’s just hard to justify her marrying him right off the bat.

Well, anyways, they’re getting married. Whether or not I disagree, it still happened.

And let’s face facts, other than Storm’s characterization, this is a pretty good book. The reactions from the X-Men, the Avengers, SHIELD (oh yeah, Dugan’s alive), the Fantastic Four, and even the citizens of Wakanda are all very well handled. There are a lot of fun moments in this book. Seeing Ross again is a treat and was that a cameo appearance of Queen Divine Justice? Man-Ape, Zandra, and the Arabian Knight are all worth smirks.

It is a smart book. It was during Priest’s run and is now. It’s just a different kind of smart, I suppose.

If Hudlin can nail down Storm and maybe play off the whole “rushing into things” aspect, he could really pull this off. And he kinda does.


Next up: the big "Civil War" special! One experiment, eight entires. Stay tuned later today for details.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 141: "Children of the Sun"

X-Men # 188-193

The X-Men manage rescue Lady Mastermind and Omega Sentinel (remember her? From Excalibur?) from an “evil clinic” where they were being experimented on. Rogue excels during this mission, so Cyclops (against the suggestion of Professor X) puts her in charge of a new rapid response team which includes Mystique, Iceman, and Cannonball. Before they can continue their investigation, Sabretooth arrives demanding sanctuary. On his tail are the Children of the Vault, who turn out to be the product of humans placed in a temporal acceleration chamber and are so advanced in terms of genetics and technology, they have to be classified as something other than human and Mutant. Bent on protecting themselves, they go after Creed because he discovered them on board their ship, the Conquistador; and they use Northstar and Arura to attack the school. Cable intervenes and the X-Men win the day. With the help of Cable, they track down the Conquistador (which can fly now) and go off to confront the Children of the Vault. The battle leads them back to the mansion, where the Children see that Mutants must be destroyed so that they can live on. The X-Men work together to stop them and Rogue decides to take the Conquistador and head on out on their way.

It’s the kick-off of a new run on X-Men, this one by Mike Carey. I kinda like his “bad-ass” team of X-Men, with all its variables and unknowns. It’s makes for pretty cool dynamic and I really enjoy seeing these characters grow and evolve and bounce off each other. From Logan’s comments to Rogue regarding Creed’s presence, to the friendship between Sam and Bobby, the characters really are the best part of this book.

The Children of the Vault, on the other hand, are a little generic. I can’t say that I really care about them too much. They’re a little gimmicky and beyond that, bland. Better than the Neo, I suppose. The art by Bachelo is cleaner than a lot of his previous offerings. He draws a good mess.

So far, not so bad.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 140: "Origins and Endings"

Two fer one day!

Wolverine # 36-40, Wolverine: Origins # 1-15, Wolverine: Origins Annual # 1

It’s kinda funny. As we move closer and closer to present day, I’m reading books that I read on an individual basis just a few short months ago. It’s interesting to see how my opinion has changed and how they read differently after I’ve learned and seen the outcome – as well as how well some issues are when placed in the context of a larger story. The previous entry was a good example of that. So is Wolverine: Origins.

Now, we’re going to be doing this a little different this time. I’m not doing an overall, huge uber-overview. Instead, I’m just going to touch on the basics of the story thus far. Which would be . . .

Wolverine, having his memories back, is after a conspiracy that has haunted him his entire life. “They” and “Them,” basically. Which makes sense. How long have we known that someone is behind his Memory Implants and Weapon X? During this quest, Logan comes into conflict with agents of this conspiracy such as Nuke and his own son, Daken. People such as Black Widow, Captain America (kinda), Winter Soldier, Maverick, and the X-Men come in and lend Logan a hand. Cyber, Silver Samurai, and Omega Red get dragged into this as well. Also, Dum-Dum Dugan and SHIELD is all over his ass.

Now, tracking all this down, Wolverine gains a mystical sword called Muramasa, which is the only thing that can kill him and negate his healing factor – his gives this to Cyclops in case Logan goes too far. As he continues on this path, Wolverine learns that Sabretooth has also been a part of this conspiracy and that the death of women in his life has been used to either control or unleash him. Finally, on Madripoor, Logan has a name for the one that is pulling the strings: Romulus.

Let’s talk about all this.

I have to give Marvel kudos for taking such a dangerous step to reveal Wolverine’s entire history. Indeed, I like it. As an overall, I like this book and this story. I like the flashbacks. They don’t exactly connect all the dots, but you can see connections between each one. They do a good job of fleshing out the mysterious places in Logan’s past.

And I have to say that it’s about damn time we learn who is behind the curtain. There have been too many people in shadows in Logan’s past. There has always seemed to be someone pulling the strings. It’s nice to have a name. And yet, there are a few problems involved in this that call upon the reader to take a leap of faith that’s just too far.

We are basically asked to believe that Romulus has made sure that every woman Logan has cared for is dead . . . which kinda cheapens things. I mean, it’s asking a lot. Was Rose the first? Did Romulus point Dog to Canada and tell him to make sure Logan accidentally kills Rose? Or was he supposed to kill Rose and Logan accidentally killed her first? See, problems like that arise.

Another thing is, okay, I understand that Romulus is all about burning away the human part of Logan and Creed and unleashing the animal . . . but to what end? Why? To be bastards? The only reasons we’ve seen is to “protect the project” . . . the project being the aforementioned stripping of humanity.

Plus, why haven’t we seen this conspiracy in action when Logan was with the X-Men? Was it because Logan was just too busy? What was Romulus thinking when the X-Men were believed to be dead and were hanging out in Australia? Did the other threats to the X-Men (Sinister, Apocalypse, Magneto, Sentinels, etc.) scare Romulus away?

And what about the Weapon Plus Program? And John Sublime? And the Director? How about the whole “Weapon X” series that Frank Teri had going? How do elements from that tie into the whole Romulus conspiracy? What about X-23? I’m sure Romulus would find her to be a curious little thing. There’s also the group that created her. What about those guys?

These are questions that demand answers. I understand, of course, that the story is only 1/3 of the way through . . . but we need answers here or the whole Romulus concept falls completely apart. Seriously. It’s tittering.

Now, as for Daken . . . give this guy an issue or two, pull back that second-hand, Euro-trash Wolverine image and let’s understand him. Let’s get inside his head. So far, it’s been “I’m Wolverine Junior, Official Bad-Ass. Look at my Punk-Ass Hair and Awesome Tattoos. Please take me Seriously.”

Really, those two are my biggest complaints of this series. The flashbacks are good, as I said. Wolverine himself is well-realized and it’s enjoyable to see him developing nicely.

(Continuity note: You gotta love how he says he’s wanted by a frillion people, but he’s perfectly accepted at Stamford – whoops!)

Ultimately, this series is going somewhere. It’s moving along, sometimes at a snail’s pace, but when read together, it works about 100 times better than as a single issue. Despite the good things going for it, it’s tittering. It’s right on the edge of “going too far” and “being awesome.” Daniel Way has to keep things moving together to maintain my enjoyment of this series – and he has a lot of logical questions to answer to make this Romulus concept work.


Uncanny X-Periment # 139: "Decimation Aftermath"

Decimation Aftermath

X-Factor # 7, New Avengers # 16-20, New Excalibur # 9, Onslaught Reborn # 1-5, Uncanny X-Men # 472-474, New X-Men # 20-31

We’re going to do the run-down pretty fast as this is a freakin’ lot of comics.


Scott arrives at X-Factor investigations to deliver the bad news to Terry about Sean. She (like any X-Fan) immediately slips into denial mood – even after watching his video will and getting his pipe.

New Avengers

SHIELD tracks a being created by the orbiting energy field as it smashes its way through Alpha Flight. Eventually, it head-butts the Avengers and Ms. Marvel in Cleveland (yay!). Then Sentry comes and takes it into space. Meanwhile, Spider-Man and the Vision are taken into SHIELD custody, who figure out the cause of Decimation. The being returns and rushes down to Genosha, where it grabs Magneto, maybe gives him his powers back, and . . . yeah . . . it turns out its Xorn. The Avengers intercept. Ms. Marvel abosorbs and releases the energy away and Xorn is tossed into the sun. The host for Xorn and the power was a guy named Michael. Magneto – maybe brain-dead – shipped away on a helicopter that conveniently blows up. Gasp! Mystery!

New Excalibur

Ozymadias and the Clan Akkaba snag Chamber, use Poccy’s blood to restore him completely, and then Chamber runs away from both the clan and Excalibur.

Onslaught Reborn

The energy field combines and releases Onslaught for reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense. Onslaught goes after Franklin, who escapes into the Heroes Reborn (2.0) universe. Do me a favor? Come back to this entry in a few weeks and we’ll have it all nice and up-dated for you cuz the last issue isn’t out yet.

Uncanny X-Men

Turns out Jamie Braddock brought Psylocke back so that she could fight the Foursaken. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

New X-Men

Stryker is back and has encountered Nimrod. Nimrod gave him visions of the future. Using these, Stryker has eliminated some X-Kids. Jay, Laurie, and a bunch non-Mutant students are all wiped out pretty cleanly. He then attacks the school, only to be killed by Josh, who goes black. The Nimrod then wakes up and heads down to Forge’s house to get some repairs done. He blackmails Forge and the New X-Men show up and whip his ass. Josh saves X-23 and goes black/gold.

X-Factor is a particularly enjoyable comic. I love Terry’s reactions. It’s an issue I certainly appreciated because it brought a lot of meaning to Sean’s death.

New Avengers was pretty good. Very old school. The SHIELD issue was weak, but I thought the rest of the story was strong. Great use of the character dynamics. Art was good too.

Nice to see Chamber and nice to see the fate Weapon X. But . . . meh. What was the point other than to make Chamber look like Apocalypse Jr.?

Onslaught Reborn

See comment above.

I thought Uncanny X-Men was both boring and confusing. Maybe it was because the build-up was gone. Maybe it was because Claremont was in bad health when he co-wrote this. Maybe it was just . . . bad. I don’t know. I didn’t care for it.

New X-Men is . . . complicated. When I first read this story when the issues came out, I was so appalled I ended up dropping the book. However, in hindsight, I may have acted too quickly. Yes, the slaughter fest is too much. Yes, the time travel portions are insane. Yes, Emma Frost is the biggest bitch in the universe, and Scott is pretty boring. But let me be honest here – it’s really not that bad. There are some things to like here. At the characters are reacting in a realistic manner as to what’s happening to them. And it made the death of Stryker and the destruction of Nimrod all the better. But ultimately, the characters are what make the story interesting. I won’t lie. As much as I respect and enjoyed the previous writers run, this one is far more exciting and entertaining. An endless, needless slaughter fest, but still . . .


Saturday, November 24, 2007

UXP # 138: "Decimation # 5: Deadly Genesis"

X-Men: Deadly Genesis # 1-5

I’m stuffed of turkey and pumpkin pie; therefore I’m too fat to do a proper overview. Here’s the scoop:

The energy field now in place above the Earth has energized a Mutant trapped in the big ol’ corpse of Krakoa. He comes back to Earth, proceeds to lure Cyclops and Rachel into a trap and captures them. Meanwhile, those X-Men guys are all reliving past troubles. Eventually, Scott and Rachel break out. Rachel’s rushes off to get the rest of the X-Men while the Mutant – Vulcan – takes Scott to Muir Island. It was on Muir Island that Banshee discovered just who and what Vulcan is. He takes the information back to the mansion, but gets squished between the Blackbird and a jumbo jet. The evidence makes it! The X-Men discover just what is going on.

Turns out that a loooong time ago when the original X-Men were captured by Krakoa, Professor X needed to throw some Mutants at the living island. Turns out before he snagged those loveable “All-New All-Different X-Men,” he got some rascals from Moira to train (with his brain!) and launched them at Krakoa. Then, they’re completely wiped out except for Vulcan. Turns out that Vulcan is Scott and Alex’s brother! Oh noez!

The X-Men confront Vulcan on Muir Island, along with Professor X (he’s walking [again] and is human). Vulcan flips out, learns that the adaptive Mutant Darwin is hiding on him, and then flies into space to beat the livin’ crap outta some Shi’ar. Cyclops then kicks Professor X out of the house.

Oh, and Briggs dies. NOOOOOOO!

Well, let’s get started off. Off the top of my head, I do like this story. I think it’s well-executed. Nice and creepy with plenty of good excitement and characterization all around. The art is moody and gloomy; but at the same, vibrant when it needs to be. Trevor Hairsine's line work is pretty good, but I think it wouldn't have been as effective if not the colors. Kudos to Val Staples for a good job on the coloring.

I guess my major beef with this is just why it’s necessary. I like these new characters – Petra, Sway, Darwin, and Vulcan – which it makes it harder to see wiped out so easily. There’s a lack of logic there too. What makes the “Giant-Sized” team so kick-ass to make it through Krakoa? I mean, they had Wolverine. Banshee was part of Interpol and former super-villain. Sunfire was a bad guy too. Storm was a criminal/goddess. But what about the others? Colossus was a farmer. Nightcrawler was in the circus.

And yet, the stand-ins had a telepathic super-cram session and still failed? Meh. Not impressed. Why push this stuff into such a great story? It kinda ruins it, you know? It’s unnecessary. It’s good, but it’s unnecessary.

And it is good. This was pretty enjoyable story, really. Just a little nuts.

Oh well. “Decimation” is over. Next? The aftermath!


Friday, November 23, 2007

UXP # 137: "Decimation # 4: Son of M"

Son of M # 1-6

Quicksilver is feelin’ pretty crappy after what he did. After rescuing a pre-198 Johnny D from some thugs, Pietro is the rescued by Spider-Man – who proceeds to yell at him for messing up Peter’s life. This itself concludes with Quicksilver leaping off the side of a building, only to be rescued by Crystal and Lockjaw. She takes him to New Attilan on the moon, where Pietro is reunited with his daughter, Luna. Pietro then decides to use the Terrigen Mists on himself. He does, and with some crazy-ass time travel techniques, steals some of the Terrigen Crystals and he and Luna head to the Earth, shunning the Inhumans.

On Earth, Pietro gives Luna some of the mists, which grants her powers. They then travel to Genosha, where the former Excalibur crew is juiced back up. The Inhumans and General Lazer and ONE track Pietro down to Genosha. Pietro, after an emotional confrontation and rejection with Magneto, realizes that the mists actually cause former Mutant’s powers to go extreme. The Inhumans show up battle with the former Excalibur guys (resulting the death of Unus) and then turn to find that Lazer has taken the crystals and is unwilling to return them. Black Bolt declares a state of war, Pietro sends Luna home where her powers diminish, and Pietro finds that he himself has merged with some of the crystals. He then goes the Mutant Town to help former Mutants get their powers back.

First of all, the story is top-notch. David Hine does a fantastic job of layering different parts of Pietro’s history upon him. The reintroduction of Luna and the time spent with not only the Inhumans, but Spider-Man and the former Excalibur guys all make for nicely-done highlights. The characterization for everyone is spot-on. About the only thing I was unsatisfied with was the question as to why Luna was not in the House of M reality; as in, it wasn’t asked.

The art is beautiful and simple, with a nice beat and pace to it. What really drew my eye were the designs applied to the Inhumans. They all look bizarre and exotic. Human, but yet not. Martinez really hits the nail on the head with this one.

As an overall, “Son of M” is the highlight of “Decimation.” It’s the best Quicksilver story since probably “Magneto Rex,” if not his former on-going.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

UXP # 136: "Decimation # 3: Blood of Apocalypse"

First of all, my apologies on the lateness of this entry. Real life has been insane lately. Second, my apologies on the short overview. Again . . . real life.

Cable and Deadpool # 26-27, Apocalypse versus Dracula # 1-4, X-Men # 180-187

Deadpool goes on the hunt for Cable after Cable goes missing. Turns out Cable has discovered Apocalypse is returning and goes to confront his ancient nemesis. He allows Apocalypse to live because Mutantkind must rally around ‘Poccy in order to survive.

As Apocalypse is restored, Ozymadias recalls a battle between Apocalypse and Dracula. These had met on an ancient battleground when Dracula was Vlad the Impaler. During the 1800s, Dracula finally sought revenge on Apocalypse by attacking Apocalypse’s descendants in the Clan Akkaba. It comes down to two final members – a teleporter and a fire-breather. They save Apocalypse from Dracula and that’s the end there.

In the present day, in Costa Rica, Lorna and Alex encounter both the Leper Queen and a Doop-like being called Daap. Daap takes Lorna and the Leper Queen to Apocalypse. At the same time, a Mutant called Gazer is challenged and becomes War. Sunfire is then recruited in as Famine and becomes his AOA self.

About this time, Apocalypse shows up at the mansion and offers his healing and power-restoring blood to the 198 and X-Men. With Mystique back and causing a rift between Remy and Rogue with the introduction of the Mutant power-disabling Pulse, Gambit joins with Apocalypse as Death. The Sentinels are wiped out in the meantime and then Apocalypse heads off to the UN.

The X-Men (and the New Avengers) manage to take down Apocalypse in his Sphinix-ship, with Apocalypse escaping . . . only to be recovered by the Celestials. Lorna, who was Pestilence this time, leaves the X-Men. As does Pulse. Sunfire and Gambit as manage to escape, joining with Sinister in the end.

First of all, I need to applaud Frank Tieri for not making “Apocalypse vs. Dracula” suck as badly as it could. In fact, the Clan Akkaba is a nice concept and pops up again. It’s a little whacky, but it works with both the Marvel version of Dracula and Apocalypse. So . . . not bad.

Cable and Deadpool is fun, but I would have liked to have seen more Cable’s thoughts and reactions about Apocalypse’s return. It just doesn’t feel right, to be honest. It was well executed, but just wasn’t quite on the button.

The main event isn’t too bad. The story itself is nicely delivered and has a strong direction. There are flaws. It’s jarring and sometimes it seems like the X-Men just aren’t acting like themselves. They should be dog-piling on Apocalypse. Cyclops needed a stronger emotional reaction to Apocalypse’s return. Even though the focus was more on Alex, Scott needed more development here.

Apocalypse himself isn’t acting like himself either. He’s off character, carrying so much about his image. It reminds a little of Morrison’s Magneto/Xorn from “Planet X.”

Furthermore, the Sentinels from ONE seem to become more and more pointless.

But the character development and art are all on high. And for the faults of the story, it was an interesting and fun ride.

Milligan’s run comes to an end. It was a curious little batch of issues. He handled the team well, even if he dropped the ball with the bad guys. His best work was with Rogue and Gambit; his worst was with Lorna, Bobby, and Alex. There was a fundamental organic/natural theme through just about his entire run. Giant fungus spore alien monsters in “Golgotha;” sex and lust in “Bizarre Love Triangle;” monkeys and apes in “Wild Kingdom;” and blood in “Blood of Apocalypse.” It was a interesting theme and it certainly made for intriguing – if not flawed – stories.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

UXP # 135: "Decimation # 2: Human and Mutant"

X-Men: 198 # 1-5, Generation M # 1-5, X-Factor # 1-6, Sentinel Squad ONE # 1-5

Quite suddenly, the X-Men have 198 Mutants living on their grounds. With the damage done to the dorms, they all have to live in tents outside. Poor Muties. This includes the emotional distraught Magma and her former lover/manipulator Empath; the mysterious Mr. M; Toad; and various others such as Leech, Caliban, Erg, Jazz, Outlaw, Peepers, Sack, Johnny D, and loads more. The group is having some serious trouble with Sentinel Squad ONE hanging around. This includes them being tagged when they want to leave to visit Salem Center. Thanks to rising tension from Johnny D (who killed Jazz using his Mutant voodoo-doll powers), there's a riot on the X-Men's hands. Mr. M leads the 198 off the estate, where Johnny D (now joined with General Lazer) manages to kill Mr. M. The 198 returns to the estate then.

Sally Floyd, journalist for the very liberal newspaper “The Alternative,” struggles with depression and alcoholism while interviewing ex-Mutants. We see what’s happened to Stacey (a full-blown prostitute); Marrow (living with Morlocks, protecting them); Chamber (comatose with a hole in his chest and face); Jubilee (a political activist); Blob (a thug with diseases); and Dani (taking some time away). As she is doing this, she is being stalked by a crazy Mutant named the Ghoul. This leads to the X-Men using Sally as bait, then managing to take down the Ghoul.

X-Factor investigations is now completely active in Mutant Town (aka District X) and now consists of Maddrox, Wolfsbane, Guido (man, I just want to call him Strong Guy!), Syrin, and M – with Richter then joining after a failed suicide attempt. X-Factor gets involved with a human whose sister was killed by an actor who was being protected by Singularity Investigations. Layla Millar eventually joins the gang, telling everyone that “She knows stuff” and manages to save Richter from an SI agent. After solving the case, Syrin is kidnapped by a former Mutant, and then rescued by Richter. Finally, Layla is taken away, only to have run away and rejoins the team.

Six months ago, Sentinel Squad ONE was a bunch of cadets consisting of (mainly) Alexander “Lex” Lexington, Briggs, Rajani, a Mutant named Melt, and a guy named Skylark. They and a bunch of others go through some exercises – including stopping a Hydra assassination plot, cyber-dinosaurs in the Savage Land, and Wild Sentinels in South America.

Overall, this is a nice and much-needed catch-up with the various Mutant characters we’ve seen over the years. The 198 and Generation M, especially, serve as strong points here with a nice look at all sorts of crazy Mutants. I’m not exactly satisfied with where Stacey has ended up, but I’m pleased with the fates of many of the others. As a Generation X fan, it’s nice to see that M has ended up with the “big boys” in X-Factor.

The 198 made for a good read. The art was touch and go. Sometimes, it was perfect; others, it was an odd fit. I don’t understand why the X-Men have had so much trouble rebuilding the dorms and why the poor masses had to sleep in tents. Surely, the X-Men could have cleared out the cafeteria and set up some cots. And some of those Mutants just surprised me in terms of how “evil” they are. I mean, Toad and Mammomax, I can understand as they’re pretty low on the list and I don’t think they’ve actually killed anyone. But, some of the Marauders are there, as well as Gene Nation. These aren’t good guys. They’ve killed innocents.

The government-is-evil is a pretty overused concept, if you ask me, and it’s done so again here. However, it’s mainly because GENERAL LAZER IS EVIL. Val Cooper and Colonel Reyes aren’t, but GENERAL LAZER IS PURE EVIL. What? You didn’t know that?

Over in Generation M . . . I like Sally Floyd. I don’t anymore since she became stupid in “Civil War: Frontline,” but I like her here. She makes for a nice character and I liked looking through her eyes at the post-Decimation events. Sally been a little retconed into the X-Men’s history, but I can deal with that.

X-Factor is another good book here. It’s far more internal than the original Peter David run and that’s the major highlight. Taking a firm look at Decimation and dealing with its major aftermath and impact on Mutant Town was a wise decision. Nice flow, very moody, and some great characterization are what holds this comic together

Finally, we have Sentinel Squad ONE, which is, for the most part, a little on the bland side. I thought their various adventures weren’t all that strong. That being said, it’s nice to have a face to the names and each character was certainly well-realized. What I really liked about this book, though, is what is said in the beginning of issue one in regards to Sentinel Squad ONE’s existence. It’s there in case everything else falls apart and there are no super-heroes. Say . . . if there was a ban on super-heroes or something, right?

Again, it’s nice to see the fall-out of “House of M” and M-Day dealt with in a way that works. These all made for some good and interesting stories, though some were a little boring at times. A definite improvement.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

UXP # 134: "Decimation # 1: X-Men"

House of M: The Day After, X-Men # 177-179, New Excalibur # 1-3, Uncanny X-Men # 466-468, New Excalibur # 4-5, (parts of) New X-Men # 20-22, Uncanny X-Men # 469-471, X-Men # 180 (1st half)

The X-Men are in response and recovery mode in the aftermath of House of M. As Bishop works in District X with Charlotte Jones, Cyclops rallies the X-Men around him. He opens the doors to any Mutants seeking refuge; Storm decides to stick it out in Africa; and Nightcrawler, Rachel, Psylocke, Juggernaut, Nocturne, and Shadowcat head off to England to check in on an energy spike there and Captain Britain.

It’s then that huge Sentinels arrive at the mansion just moments after an attack by the Leper Queen and her Sapien League. The X-Men contend with them before discovering they’ve arrived by order of the President with Val Cooper. Turns out these Sentinels are manned by humans and are ordered to protect the X-Men and the Institute. They help the X-Men fight off the Sapien League.

Meanwhile, across the pond, Captain Britain, Pete Wisdom, Sage, and the visiting X-Men get involved in a situation where the original X-Men and an evil Professor X “kill” Dazzler. Rachel and Kitty end up stuck in someone’s mind, nearly under evil Professor X’s control while Psylocke and Nightcrawler deal some of the others. Ultimately, Captain Britain, Sage, Juggernaut, Pete Wisdom, and Nocturne save the day. Pete Wisdom wants a new Excalibur then and there, but everyone turns him down. All but Juggs and TJ take off, dropping Rachel off at the Grey’s.

While Rachel spends time with the grandparents she never knew, Scott and Emma learn more about the deal with the Office of National Emergency. General Lazer is heading it up, with Colonel Reyes and Val Cooper working at the mansion with the Sentinels.

Unfortunately, at a Grey family reunion, a team of Shi’ar mercenaries called the Death Commandos show up and manage to wipe out the entire Grey family. Even Joey and Gaylin. The X-Men and Sentinels move in, but it’s all rather moot at that point.

Back over in England, She-Hulk manages to get Juggernaut free and the team comes together after encounters with the Warwolves and a dude named Albion and former Avenger Lionheart. Excalibur is then officially formed! Yay!

In Westchester, the school goes under some significant changes. Dani is fired, most of the human students are booted out, and Wolverine insists on X-23 returning to the school. Also, the kids all hang around a little something David whipped up called the Danger Cave.

Rachel sneaks out and over to Chicago, where she meets with Kitty’s old psychologist. The Death Commandos break out of jail and go to hunt her down, but the X-Men again step in and defeat them with the help of a Sentinel or two.

Finally, Lorna leaves the school as she no longer has powers. Alex decides to go with her. Oh, and Bobby turns out has his powers too.

Okay, so to be fair, it’s not the best summary in the world, but we’re talking about a lot of books here.

Individually, these stories (taken self-contained) are all rather good. “The Day After” is one of Claremont 2.0’s best works, as he manages to catch up with all the characters emotionally and deals in-depth with everything that’s been going on. There all sorts of small scenes that really shine out – Storm’s meeting with Cyclops (I think their first in a frillion years) and the conversation between Logan and Peter are nicely done.

“House Arrest” (X-Men) is a good story. It introduces the concept of the Sentinels monitoring the school, which was pretty neat at this point. The Bobby/Lorna/Alex triangle finally falls apart with some decent characterization on Lorna’s part. Bobby turning out to have powers is a bit of a misfire, I think, but oh well . . . he would have gotten them back eventually anyways. Scott and Alex get some much-needed interaction, tense as it may be.

“New Excalibur” is . . . okay. This book always felt to me like a dumping ground for left-over X-Men characters like Juggernaut, Sage, and Nocturne. I suppose it’s not terrible, but it’s a little hard to fit in with everything else.

“End of Greys” (Uncanny) is probably the strongest of the bunch. Brutal, intense, but straight forward and emotional. It’s a great story and again, probably among the strongest we’ve seen from Claremont 2.0 in a while. Seeing Scott’s emotional reaction to what has happened to his former in-laws is pretty nice. My biggest complaint is why now? Did the Shi’ar decide to kill them all in the aftermath of what happened in “Endsong?” I mean, that makes the most sense, but why now, right after the House of M? Gah, it bothers me. It’s good, mind you, but it still bothers me.

“New X-Men” is okay. I just stuck with the flashback sequences here to add context to the overall story. I’ll get to the meat of these stories in a few weeks.

“Wanderin’ Star” is decent, but not nearly as strong as showing as “End of Greys.” The Death Commandos crumble like a house of cards, which is silly considering they were a pretty huge threat just a few issues before hand. Rachel gets some good development, which is nice . . . but I’m just not happy with this story as a whole.

Overall, there’s a nice linear feel to all this. The Sentinels arrive at the end of “The Day After,” are dealt with in “House Arrest,” the team handles Europe in “New Excalibur,” return in “End of Greys,” where we see fall-out from “House Arrest.” It pulls together nicely, but . . . the stories themselves are all awkward and don’t fit in terms of tone – especially “New Excalibur.”

Furthermore, there’s very little done with “Decimation” here. We see Sentinels, alternate realities, and the Shi’ar – but there’s not much else dealing with the fall-out of House of M. That fact alone hurts all these. It’s disappointing.

As a whole, the individual stories are greater than the sum of their parts. There’s a lot of good character development found here, which is great . . . but it ignores the core aspect of Decimation, which is, in fact “No more Mutants.”


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 133: "House of M"

Excalibur # 13-14; House of M # 1; Uncanny X-Men # 462; Mutopia X # 1 (up until page 3); The Pulse # 10 (page one only); House of M # 2 (up until page 19); Mutopia # 1 (rest of issue); Iron Man: House of M # 1-3; Black Panther # 7; Spider-Man: House of M # 1-5; Mutopia # 2-3; Fantastic Four: House of M # 1-3; Thunderbolts # 11; Incredible Hulk # 83-86; Uncanny X-Men # 463-465; Exiles # 69; House of M # 2 (rest of issue); House of M # 3 (up until page 15); Wolverine # 33-35; New X-Men # 16; House of M # 3 (rest of issue); House of M # 4; The Pulse # 10 (up until page 12); House of M # 5 (up until page 19, panel 5); Captain America # 10; House of M # 5 (rest of issue); The Pulse # 10 (rest of issue); New X-Men # 1-19; Exiles # 70; House of M # 6; House of M # 7; Exiles # 71; Cable and Deadpool # 17; Mutopia # 4; House of M # 8

As you can see from my read order, I got pretty particular in regards to how I read it. As this is a rather large and complex story, I found myself weaving in and out of various House of M stories and subplots. This read order allowed me to soak up all of House of M in one fell swoop, with a nice, world-view of the recreated Marvel Universe.

It’s difficult to define House of M, in some ways. Basically, it’s the story of the Scarlet Witch recreating the Marvel Universe into a place where she and her family and friends and even enemies could be happy. Unfortunately, it all comes tumbling down when Wolverine remembers what’s going on and with the help of a girl named Layla Millar, assembles various X-Men, Avengers, and other heroes to put an end to it. And what an end – turns out that everyone suspected Magneto telling Wanda how to create this new world, when it was really Pietro. And on top of that, a disgusted and unstable Wanda sets the world right . . . only with 98% of the Mutant population now reduced to humans.

I’m going to go through all of the satellite books and just kinda touch on them real quick:

Excalibur # 14-15

Mainly, this is all just set-up. I’ve pretty much ignored the whole Zanzibar story, concentrating on the parts that were the most important – the House of M prelude work. Doctor Strange is approached by Professor X in the hopes of getting help with Wanda. They go through a series of obstacles set-up by Wanda in Professor X’s mind, but get no further with helping her.

The art is decent. I’ve been a fan of Lopresti and I’m eagerly awaiting the day when he can really blow us away. The cover to issue 15 is probably my favorite out of all House of M. The story is not bad, but gets a little slow. We get nice insights to Xavier and Magneto, though, which really was the best that the second series of Excalibur had to offer overall.

Uncanny X-Men # 462-465

When Wanda remade the world, it created a trans-temporal tsunami that spilt all of the cross-time worlds into each other. It was all going to impact our world, and come smashing in due to a breach in England. Captain Britain and Meggan were dispatched to take care of it, but when they arrived, they were swept into the new reality. Likewise, Marvel Girl and Psylocke were spared from the change-over for some reason and were swept into it. While Brian deals with this unknown mission that he seems to not really remember, the gang is brought in to track down a rogue Mutant that has Magneto’s genetic signature. Turns out it’s Nocturne, who conveniently leads them to the breach. The mission now known to Brian, he attempts to seal the breach, but can’t. Meggan does and “dies.”

The story kinda goes on and on until it rushes itself to conclusion. It’s not that great. The art shift from Alan Davis to Chris Bachelo is harsh. The sacrifice of Meggan was nicely done, though. Everything was just kinda blah.

Spider-Man: House of M

Here we have Peter Parker living his dream life. Married to Gwen Stacy, with a little boy named Richie. Ben, May, and George are all alive. He’s making movies with MJ and is super-popular. J. Jonah Jameson is his bitch. Rhino is his bodyguard. But Peter begins to screw over his whole life by giving Jameson his old journal that contains his old life. Everything comes tumbling down for Peter until he eventually pretends to kill himself to save human/Mutant relations.

Bah, that’s a terrible description, but basically, this is nicely done, emotionally complex story by Mark Waid. It’s a highlight of House of M, despite it being a hard fit with the rest of the over House of M crossover. The art is good, but the coloring is rather spotty.

Iron Man: House of M

Hank Pym has found a way to kill Mutants with a biologically bomb. While Tony straddles the line of Mutant/human relations and dresses up in an Iron Man costume with Johnny Storm, Howard Stark is a jerk to him, trying to target Magneto. It ends with a bunch of people in robot suits saving Mutants.

This is not good. The art is decent . . . except for anyone not a robot. The writing is hackneyed and lacks any sort of insight or energy. It’s basically about Iron Man in House of M, drinking, being jerked around by his Dad, and flying around as Iron Man. There are two or three shining moments, but nothing great.

Fantastic Four: House of M

Doctor Doom, ruler of Latveria, is sick of being at Magneto’s beck and call – and so is his mother. So, with his Fearsome Four, Doom uses an opportunity given to him by Magneto to create an extra-dimensional prison to stop his rival. He succeeds, but Ben “It” Grimm rebels, releases Magneto and the gang, who promptly kill all but Doom – and makes his Mom beg to take her away from Doom.

This is another House of M highlight. Doom’s role in the House of M is great. He’s like his 616 counter-part, expect pissed at Magneto instead of Richards. It’s great. The Fearsome Four are a nice evil compliment to their goody-goody two-shows counter-parts. The art is nice and simple, too, offering nothing but support for such a fine read.

Hulk # 83-86

The Hulk and AIM overthrow Exodus and his anti-human government on Australia. Then, AIM starts to build an anti-Mutant army of cyborgs. Hulk smashes, Banner rules.

This was a fun one; yet another great story from House of M. The scenes with Gateway added nice introspection and insight into the Hulk/Banner. The battles were nice and action-packed. The pacing was good, the art was fantastic and there was just enough drama and comedy to keep it all popping. Kudos on this one.

Black Panther # 7

Black Panther and Magneto aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. After an attempted alliance fails with the other kingdoms for T’Challa and Sabretooth is sent back to Magneto, head only, Apocalypse is brought in . . . only to be defeated by Black Bolt.

It’s an interesting premise, but generally fails to take itself seriously. By the time Namor shouts “You’ve grown gills!” and Shanna and Monica start fighting, the whole story just falls apart. The art is too flaky and sketchy. And Apocalypse does say “old-school.”

Cable and Deadpool # 17

Deadpool returns to 616 thinking it’s an alternate reality in the hopes of retrieving Cable – who is now a baby under the care of Mr. Sinister. Eventually, Cable – because he is so powerful – defeats Sinister and Deadpool takes him back “home” . . . which is really . . . yeah.

Okay, see this is funny because it’s supposed to be funny. Deadpool is a funny character. I can take this seriously even though it is tongue-in-cheek. The story in it of itself isn’t much to offer either the characters or the overall House of M storyline, but it’s enjoyable all the same.

Thunderbolts # 11

I don’t quite understand this story. Some stuff happens. Captain Marvel kinda half-shows everyone what’s happening. Yeah. That’s it.

Captain America # 10

At a party honoring his first moon walk, an aged Captain America looks back upon his life and career, which eventually completely fell apart.

Another great book here. It’s adds a nice sense of texture and history of the recreated Marvel Universe. I like Caps’ POV of the entire rise of Magneto and whatnot. Very well done

The Pulse # 10

Kat Farrell tries to find a story in a SHIELD operation, only to come across Hawkeye – who is dazed and confused because he was dead and now is quite alive. He confronts Kat, talks to her about whatnot, then blows the crap outta this Sentinel monument.

This is a nice piece, working well to compliment the main series, while at the same time telling a decent character piece. Hawkeye’s irrational behavior and emotional confusion fits in very realistically to him being up and alive after a trusted and loved friend/teammate killed him.

New X-Men # 16-19

There seems to be some competition between the New Mutants Institute and the SHIELDS’ Hellions training units. Despite this, the blah blah blah.

I’m not impressed with this story at all. Again, it suffers from the same problems that has plagued it since it’s inception. There are too many characters and too much going on for me to invest my time and energy. The characters are lacking here, just basically carbon-copies of their 616 counter-parts – except for the ones that are the clichéd “We’re best friends really, but in this reality, we hate each other” characterization.

Exiles # 69-71

The Exiles seek to return Beak to his home-Earth (616, which is currently the House of M), only to find, well . . . duh. Here, Angel is a hawt model and Beak pines for her. However, when Proteus goes after Angel, Beak and the Exiles are drawn in. Eventually, Proteus and the Exiles manage to leave the reality while Beak and Angel face a re-shaping reality.

This was a pretty decent story. The Exiles questioning whether or not they should change the House of M is nicely handled, as well as Blink’s comparison with it and the Age of Apocalypse. Proteus is a neat villain and seeing Moira again is pleasant. Overall, a good comic.

Wolverine # 33-35

Wolverine has gone nuts and Shaw brings his girlfriend Mystique in for questioning. We’re quickly showed a flashback to a botched mission a few weeks ago that allowed Wolverine to have fuel to continue on – a feud with Nick Fury.

I found this story confusing, boring, and overall inconsequential. The journey down memory lane is nice in an alternate reality, but in this case, it’s just a big misfire. No thanks.

Mutopia # 1-4

What we have is police officer Izzy Ortega, who during a gig protecting mogul Daniel Kaufman, ends up hooking up with Kaufman’s wife, Laura. Meanwhile, Ortega’s home life sucks as his daughter hasn’t turned into a Mutant yet and his wife comes off as having a problem with that. Izzy is offended and when the affair comes to life . . . well, yeah, the shit hits the fan. Plus, there’s this terrorist after Izzy. It all culminates at this place called Mutopia, where Izzy and his wife hope that Mr. M will activate his daughter’s powers. The terrorist – now working for Kaufman – goes in to shoot Izzy, misses, and hits the newly transformed daughter. Then the House of M ends.

At some point, I plan on picking up all of “District X” and thus appreciate this story a little more. Overall, it’s good. It adds a lot of ground-level texture to House of M. The characters are all very well-realized. A good book.

House of M

Ah, and here we are.

The X-Men and the Avengers gather at Avengers Tower to discuss the fate of Wanda Maximoff. Killing her is even brought up. Quicksilver goes to Genosha to talk to his father about Wanda, only to find him unable and unwilling to do anything. The X-Men and the Avengers go to Genosha themselves to deal with the problem. Shortly after arriving, the world gets turned upside down with everyone living out their dreams. And there is the flaw in the world. Wolverine, who gets all his memories back, ends up with the memories of what really happened. He abandons the SHIELD helicarrier and eventually hooks up with Luke Cage and his gang, who have been told by Layla Millar about the real world. With them is Hawkeye. This group then goes after Emma Frost and Cyclops, then collects She-Hulk, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Sentry, Doctor Strange, and a bunch of others and again goes to Genosha to crash Magneto’s birthday bash. Once there, everyone takes care of the guests (many of them friends) while Doctor Strange confronts Wanda. After it’s discovered that it was Quicksilver that told Wanda to make this world and not Magneto, Magneto goes after Quicksilver. Wanda stops him and turns the world right – except for that key phrase “No more Mutants.” The world goes back to normal with 98% less Mutants.

I remember reading this the first time and finding it to be good, if not far too drawn out. However, now that the story is done and the issues have been sitting around waiting for me, I’ve found it’s a much stronger as a whole. Bendis delivers a strong story here, one that really reaches out and impacts the overall Marvel Universe – but still has strong characterization. I found the House of M reality very interesting and nicely detailed. For all the criticism Bendis gets about characterization, he really nails a lot of the characters well here. Spider-Man’s angst over what this new world/new life means to him. Cyclops stepping up and taking command, with Emma Frost by his side. Even characters like Doctor Strange are very well portrayed.

Quicksilver, Magneto, and Wanda are all very good here. Wanda especially comes off as very sympathetic and much more interesting a character than she did in “Disassembled.” In an overall sense, the Maximoff family is constantly self-destructing. We consistently see these three characters crash into each other. Scarlet Witch is almost as always the victim, Quicksilver is the trouble maker with all the father issues, and Magneto is the one looking to take advantage of it and often times lashing out at his son. It’s no different here. In fact, the best scene in this crossover is the emotional confrontation between Pietro and his father. It’s raw and emotional and quite effective.

There are few other nuggets out there. I really liked Spider-Woman’s comments that this may just be how Mutantkind is supposed to rise to power and take its place at the top of the evolutionary food chain. Layla Millar is a fun character, though a little convenient.

For all the Bendis love, though, there are some problems here. First of all, wouldn’t it have been simpler to take the sample of the Mutant cure and give it Wanda, effectively shutting down her Mutant powers? Sure, Magneto might have a problem with that, but it’s the X-Men and the Avengers. They can handle him while someone pokes her with it real quick. Unfortunately, it’s not even mentioned.

Secondly, this is billed as Avengers/X-Men crossover, when really, it’s more like “The X-Men guest-starring the New Avengers.” The Avengers have a role, but in a way, it’s kinda like they’re passing the Wanda problem off the X-Men and then just sticking around and hanging out. In fact, there’s more impact in this story for the X-Men then the Avengers, which I know irks Avengers fans as it made the ending seem rather flat to them.

Finally, I liked Hawkeye role in the “you killed me, brought me back yadda yadda yadda” character position, but it was rendered ineffective. We don’t see him fully return for what, a year? It’s pointless. I would have rather seen Hawkeye pop back up at the end, say “I need a vacation” and run off. It would have made the tie to Avengers a lot stronger and would have been better in the long run.

Now, as for the art, this book is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. The designs, the facial expressions, the lay-out, the colors . . . everything.

As an overall, House of M is a little mixed. There are some nice golden stories, but some stinkers too. It had a nice, strong impact on the Marvel Universe – which is odd, as it is basically an alternate reality tale.

Next up: Decimation!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 132: "Another Year Ends"

Uncanny X-Men # 460 (2nd half) – 461, X-Men # 175, Black Panther # 8, X-Men # 176, Black Panther # 9, New X-Men # 14-15, New X-Men: Yearbook Special

Well, it’s the end of Xavier’s second school year with an entire Mutant student body. And what drama is abound!

Firstly, Juggernaut and Nocturne show back up after being deposited in the Mojoverse. Mojo and Spiral follow, turn the X-Men into the X-Babies and chase them around with lawyer versions of the Exiles. Juggernaut gets weepy over fish-boy and eventually, they all win out. Yay.

After this, the X-Men head to Niganda, which boarders Wakanda. There, the X-Men and Storm are confronted by Mutant animals created by the vile Doctor Paine. The Red Ghost gets involved and Paine teams up with the X-Men and Black Panther to take down the Red Ghost and his evil monkeys that nearly kill everyone. In the end, all is defeated and Storm decides to remain in Africa.

Finally, back at the school, the year is winding down and the New Mutants squad is fracturing. Turns out that Josh’s relationship with Rahne came out and Rahne has gone running off to X-Factor. Josh’s love interest in Laurie has run off, using her powers on David as revenge. Meanwhile, David is staying away from Nori because he’s afraid of her going BOOM due to a quasi-vision he had of the future. And Jay is just kinda there, with Sophia and Julian having the hots for each other and Kevin just watching from afar. Oh, what teenage angst webs we weave! The drama reaches its high point at the Prom, and then both the Hellions and the New Mutants must team-up to save Prize Giving Day from the Blob. Afterwards, the New Mutants head to the lake for a campfire, where they reconcile their differences. It’s a wonderful ending.

It’s all pretty poor. The X-Babies were funny twice, and have been a worn-out joke since. And I don’t like Mojo. He’s not even very funny here.

As for “Wild Kingdom,” it was just too silly to be taken seriously. Really, the Red Ghost? Doctor Paine? I mean, kudos on bringing Storm to Africa and giving her some well-deserved development, but seriously, did we need a mini-crossover to do that?

Lastly, the New Mutants just kinda shot itself in the leg. It suffers from the same problems it always had – too broad a net; too many characters, too many relationships, and just generally too much. Thanks, but no thanks. I like that it all ended on a high note and considering what happens to them all next, it’s pretty bittersweet.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 131: "Golgotha"

X-Men # 166-174

Note: Just putting this out there. From here on out, expect up-dates to come weekly, usually Sundays or Mondays. I'm as of now back-logging, so there will certainly be up-dates every week. This is done so that current storylines are caught up by the time we get to them. Thanks!

Well, first off, the X-Men are confronted by strange, fungus-like aliens who feed off people's inner demons, sparking 24 hours of craziness before the alien break out of their shell and head somewhere else. After messing around in the Antartic, Calvary, and LA, the X-Men face down the alien at the mansion. Emma faces aging; Gambit and Rogue struggle with their lack of touch - culminating with a shared kiss between Rogue and Wolverine; and Alex, Lorna, and Bobby act like high schoolers. In the end, the team heads into space and destroys a whole fleet of them. During this, Lorna claims to have 'seen something.'

After this, the X-Men get a new student in the form of the sexual Foxx, who joins Gambit's group. She flirts with Gambit, hitting on him and wanting him, which furthers the wedge between he and Rogue and causing all sorts of problem with his group. It's then revealed that it's really Mystique, who is making sure Gambit is right for her and not just another floozy to him. She even offers herself up to Gambit, looking like Rogue. When everyone else finds out, Rogue asks to join the team. As the senior X-Men vote, Nightcrawler confronts his mother and asks her to leave so he can "wrap his head" around the idea of her being an X-Man. Mystique takes off even after the X-Men are prepared to offer her a probationary place with the team.

We've entered into Milligan's run here and it's definetly a strange one in comparison to other X-Men runs. The threat of Golgotha and Foxx are almost non-existent compared to the drama that has overcome the characters. Milligan has taken to treating the Lorna/Bobby/Alex love triangle like it's something straight out of the 10th grade. The dialogue is pretty immature. Granted, none of these characters are in the best place, but still . . .

Rogue and Gambit get a better treatment, with their relationship going from cute (the space-suit kiss was adorable) to pure self-destruction. The touching thing was not as much of an issue during the "will-they/won't-they" part of their relationship, as the issue back then was if they can trust each other. However, now that they've gotten together and Rogue's powers are back in full, where does this leave their future? Milligan does a good job here, and we see the little things about Rogue and Gambit's relationship come out. Sleeping in the same room, telepathic attempts at being intimate. It doesn't compeletely work out, but it's far more than just "I can't touch you! Wahhh!"

And of course, there's always the trust issue, which comes back here with the temptations of Foxx/Mystique. Rogue is a little firery and quick to blame considering that she had just locked lips with Wolverine. Milligan seems to forget that pretty quickly.

And she also has new fire powers.

It's not a bad start and certainly a lot better than Austen's work . . . even if it does feel shallow at times.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 130: "Phoenix Endsong"

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong # 1-5

Basically, what we have here, is a bunch of Shi'ar decide to bring back the Phoenix so they can destroy it. The Phoenix survives the Shi'ar's attack and heads to Earth, where it accidently wakes up Kid Omega, then tries to get to Scott to feed off his optic blasts -- and to love him like it did when it was Jean.

The Phoenix eventually revives Jean's body. The X-Men chase after her while Kid Omega emerges, pulls up Sophie's corpse, and wants the Phoenix to bring her back to life. Jean "kills" herself and the Phoenix joins with Emma Frost. Phoenix revives Sophie, who promptly rejects Kid Omega. Jean emeges then and pulls the Phoenix out of Emma and into her. She then has a chance to say good bye to all of her loved ones and dies again.

There's something odd about this story. It comes off very much like a swansong for Morrison's run. I'm a little surprised to see it, to be honest. The Phoenix was pretty much dealt with. Kid Omega was done. The Shi'ar hate the Earth. There wasn't much point to this story other than to run around with Morrison's toys.

However, despite the lack of necessity for this story, it's enjoyable. It's sentimental. Jean/Phoenix are both very well-written. Scott really shines through as someone who has control over his actions, despite the fact that he's struggling between his wife and his girlfriend. He's probably the best portrayed here; very well-rounded and aware. His relationship with Emma is shone is a great light, making it seem more than just simply "we're having sex" -- which is what it came across as for a while.

I have to question just why the Shi'ar brought the Phoenix back when it was already dead? It's a confusing point. Wouldn't that be like resurrecting Hitler just to kill him again? Whatever.

The art is quite beautiful, though from what I've heard about Greg Land, I'm not sure if I can trust it. The Phoenix effect - while tired at this point - is really quite awesome-looking in here. And he does do great facial expressions.

Ultimately, it's an enjoyable book. I wish there was more of a point to it, but it's a good farewell to Jean. Again.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 129: "Enemy of the State"

Wolverine # 20-32

The son of Mariko's cousin Ichiro is kidnapped by mobsters supposedly, leading Logan to step in and make the drop-off. However, Wolverine is attacked by the Hand, "killed" by the Mutant cult leader Gorgon, and brainwashed by Hydra into becoming a super-agent.

Wolverine then goes on a rampage, tearing through the Hellicarrier, busting through the Baxter Building and eventually faces off with Daredevil . . . leading to the capture of Elektra, who was tracking him. Eventually, Wolverine breaks into the heavily secured Xavier Insitute, grabs Marvel Girl and forces her to use Cerebra to kill the President. Rachel manages to disarm Wolverine and the X-Men, SHIELD, Iron Man, and Captain America chase him into the woods. Wolverine goes off to kill Kitty, but she phases and Northstar gets the kill. The rest of the group intercept him, with Captain America giving the final blow.

SHIELD cleans Wolverine out while Hydra/the Hand/Dawn of the White Light (Mutant cult) go after super-people. They bring down the Hellicarrier and afterwards, Wolverine promises Ichiro's family that he'll find their son's body. Wolverine confronts the now-ressurected and brainwashed Northstar, is captured, then rescued by Sentinels. He takes Northstar in, then goes after the Hand, where he finds out that Elektra was working deep undercover when she returned to the Hand. Eventually, Gorgon goes after Nick Fury, but Wolverine takes him. Gorgon accidently uses his own power on himself, gets turned into stone/sand/whathaveyou and is defeated. Wolverine then tracks down the body of the boy.

The summary I've just given is pretty poor when compared to the actual story. I've obviously read a a lot of Wolverine stories, but this one . . . is probably among the best, if not the best. Wolverine is perfect here - feral, honorable, funny. He's brillantly written, captured so perfectly. The internal dialogue is very well done, really showing the struggle he's going through.

The plot itself is rather simple, but I like it. Really, with so many super-people out there, why wouldn't the Hand and Hydra want to bring them over to their side?

In terms of pacing and action, it's all rather great.

John Romita Jr.'s art is pretty good, though at times, his background characters just don't look that great. For example, all of the students at Xavier's school look like they're preteens, when in fact, most of them are teenagers. It's distracting. However, Romita is spot on when it comes to catching the action and the suspense of the whole adventure.

Millar's a genius.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 128: "Disassembled"

X-Men # 165, Excalibur # 5-7, Avengers # 500-504, Excalibur # 8-11 (first half)

The X-Men celebrate Christmas by rescuing a family in a insane car wreck, teaching X-23 to not be crazy, and giving Gambit his eyesight back.

Over on Genosha, the target and Professor X/Magneto’s groupies are ambushed by pirates looking to take what they can from the island. Hired by Unus and his thugs, they are all then attacked by none other than Dark Beast. Eventually, Dark Beast is overwhelmed and taken into custody.

In NYC, the Avengers are attacked by insane threats. An exploding Jack O’Hearts; a hidden Ultron command within the Vision; Iron Man getting drunk for no reason; She-Hulk, er, Hulks out; the Kree attack. It’s a very devastating attack and brings about the deaths of Hawkeye, the Vision, and Ant-Man. Eventually, with a full load of Avengers and with the help of Doctor Strange, the Avengers discover that it’s the Scarlet Witch behind all this. Turns out she remembered she had kids and went crazy. There’s a confrontation, in which the Scarlet Witch is left comatose afterwards.

Magneto then comes to her rescue and uses a wormhole to take her back to Genosha. As he does this, Callisto, Dark Beast, and Omega Sentinel contend with the Sugar Man over a hidden vault of supplies. Magneto brings the Scarlet Witch to Xavier and practically begs him to help her.

There’s a lot of controversy in regards to “Disassembled,” and despite it being an Avengers story, the ramifications it has in the X-Universe are quite important to the mythos. So, saying that, we’re going to take a good look at the good and the bad of this story, then move on to the Excalibur issues.

First of all, the positive. In terms of style, it’s usual Bendis, which people generally love or hate. Beyond that, the script is pretty strong. There’s great work in terms of pacing and structure. Nice and subtle reliance on facial expressions here, which adds to the unfolding drama. I like that the Scarlet Witch was the culprit. I like that she was the one responsible – but not because she’s evil, but because she’s unwell.

Now, that being said . . .

Wanda here is presented as nothing more than a plot point. She basically goes crazy and blows up the Avengers because she feels like it. It’s silly. There’s no subtly, no real reason. From what I understand (though I’m not 100% sure because I don’t have the issue), the whole “babies are a secret” thing is a continuity problem because apparently, she already knew about them. And just a few choice words from Jan unravels her completely? It just doesn’t work. It’s like going from Point A to Point E in one leap. Sure, you get there, but you skip a lot of points on the way.

The Avengers themselves are portrayed as fairly unprofessional. This really comes across during a scene in front of the hospital. No one talks like that and it’s all really far fetched, even for a Bendis book. Now, certain characters shine through, like Cap and even Hawkeye, but for the most part, the book fails itself in regards to characterization.

I have to really ask this of Marvel: was this story necessary? Now, I like “New Avengers” and “Mighty Avengers” and a lot of what came after this, but was “Disassembled” really a story that had to be told like this? The Avengers betrayed? Not original. The betrayal tearing the team apart? Doesn’t seem likely. Never had before. Tony Stark out of money? Ugh.

See, the whole story just kinda sucks. It’s depressing. And overly so. I can certainly handle the death of Ant-Man. The “death” of the Vision feels . . . wrong. And Hawkeye’s was laughable. The whole Ant-Man/Jack Of Harts thing was enough to drive home the emotional point. The others were too much.

Finch’s art is mediocre with spurts of good and bad. I’m actually a big fan of Finch, as he can really churn out great works of detail and scope. There’s one particular shot of Doctor Strange during his battle with Scarlet Witch that is just awesome. That being said, the scene where all of the Avengers are assembled is very generic, with everyone looking like everyone else.

Overall, “Disassembled” gets more things wrong than it gets right. It should have been developed more and there should have been a stronger effort to not alienate older fans, who are rightly pissed off by this story. Bendis tore down the house so he could rebuild it; but he did so in a way that just wasn’t quite right.

Now, over in “Excalibur” . . .

It’s nothing out of the ordinary, really. I wish we had more time spent on the actual rebuilding of Genosha and getting things down rather than regular ol’ super-heroics. The addition of Dark Beast is an interesting move, but certainly not unwelcome. Same goes for dealing with the Sugar Man (at long last). The pirates and the Trolls were pretty stupid, though.

Strong moments from Xavier and Magneto, I must note. Great characterization . . . however, I find myself shaking my head at certain moments. Half the time, Magneto just doesn’t like Magneto. He’s so limp and blah. I don’t want him batshit crazy, like the Xorn imposter, but let’s make him a little more imposing.

And why not just having Magneto reveal himself to Unus’ gang? Wouldn’t that solve the “we hate each other” problem?

There’s the usual Claremont clichés, but there are some nice moments of insight that are appreciated. Art isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s far from bad.

The X-Men Christmas story is just waaaaay too happy for it’s own good.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 127: "Danger"

Astonishing X-Men # 7-12

The X-Men, out to continue to make their reputation a positive one, team up with the Fantastic Four to tackle a huge monster in NYC. Meanwhile, a cured Mutant by the name of Wing commits suicide in the Danger Room. When a defunct Sentinel attacks the school, Kitty herds the kids into the Danger Room . . . where they find Wing's dead body. Trapped within the Danger Room, Kitty learns that the Danger Room has come alive.

Eventually, the Danger Room (now calling itself Danger) takes a humanoid form and pretty much massacres the X-Men, then heads to Genosha to confront the Professor. The Professor manages to take her down, but it activates one of the dormant Sentinels and it attacks the restored (by Elixer) X-Men. Kitty shows the Sentinel what exactly it did on Genosha. The Sentinel, now having an AI, can't deal with it and leaves the Earth. Danger is defeated, but it's revealed that the Professor knew that Danger existed, and yet "ignored" her and continued to use her in the Danger Room.

And in the end - we learn that Emma Frost is reporting to a new Hellfire Club consisting of Shaw, Cassandra Nova, a hooded figure, and one of her students on Genosha.

Again, this story isn't very original. Danger reminds me a lot of a more emotional Cerebro. We have Emma reporting to the Hellfire Club. We have word of a mole within the team. The X-Men have lost a little more faith in Professor X. It's nothing new, I'm sorry to say.

Now, again, that's not to say it isn't told well. Incredibly well, really. Pacing, art, dialogue . . . it's all really great. I just wish there was more to the substance than there was to the flash.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 126: "Choosing Sides"

New X-Men # 1-6

It’s a new semester and the kids are getting back in the game. First up, after some fretting, the school is divided into teams with advisors: Alpha Squad (Northstar), Corsairs (Cyclops), Hellions (Emma Frost), New Mutants (Dani Moonstar), Paragones (Wolfsbane), and a pair of unnamed squads – one under Gambit and one under Rogue. There might be more and I’ll point you over Uncanny for more info.

Anyways, there’s still a rivalry between the New Mutants and the Hellions. This overflows into the Field Day exercise, which brings about more tension between the team because the Hellions manage to win it. After that, there’s the returned Kevin Ford. At first, he’s all about the New Mutants, but when the FBI come calling and Dani thinks it’s best if he goes with them, the Hellions are the ones that step up. Eventually, the FBI let him go and because he’s pissed at Dani and the New Mutants, he joins the Hellions, allowing Jay Guthrie to take his place.

I’ve had, for the longest time, an issue with “New X-Men” and really wasn’t until this reading that I realized just what it was that bothered me so much. Now I know. I don’t really like this book. Don’t yell at me, yet, please.

First of all, let’s address what I generally do like about this book. I like the characters. I like David, Josh, Laurie, Sophia, and Kevin. I even like Julian and Santo. Dani and Shan do well with me here. Scott comes across nicely, breaking from the stern and stiff mold and being supportive and reasonable. I appreciate the scope of the series too, but that’s where the problem lies . . .

There’s simply too much going on here. And beyond that, the focus isn’t in the right place. Concepts and goings on in this series thus far? Okay, well . . .

Laurie is crushing hard on Josh, who is making out with Rhane (who is a teacher) in his spare time. Meanwhile, David and Nori might have a crush on each other. Nori doesn’t like her roommate, Dust, because Dust thinks that Nori dresses like a slut (basically). Nori works at the Grindhouse coffee shop, whose boss has a thing for Shan. Julian has a thing for Sophia, even though they are on separate teams. There’s also Cessily, who has a thing for Kevin, despite being on separate teams (though Kevin heads over there soon). Then there’s Jay, who has post-Austen angst. So there are two teams – the New Mutants and the Hellions – whose rivalry stretches even to the team advisors, Dani and Emma.

And on top of all this, there’s also the fact that these characters are in school and have to do school things and training with powers things.

It’s just too much. What I want out of this series is for it to be about a group of teenagers attending – basically – X-Men school. “Mutant High,” y’know? We don’t get that. We get Drama City, which makes things messy and ugly. The characters are not very unique and we don’t spend much time understanding them. They’re good characters, but they simply don’t fulfill their potential. There’s no depth given to them and in the rare moments there is, it’s brief and we get into mediocre relationship stories.

Had the writers focused more on one tight group of characters as they made their way through “Mutant High,” this would have been a stronger book. Even bringing the rival characters in the Hellions would have worked better. Rivals in class, rivals outside. Instead, it’s a messy, tangled web of characters and crushes that are just too complicated for me to care about . . .

And the art is pretty bland too.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Intermission: Just a Few Things

Hello Interweb land! It's me, thew40!

I'm pausing in my reading/reviewing for just a moment to put a few things out there.

First of all . . . how many people read this thing? I'm aware of three (a fellow blogger, a guy who commented, and someone from the Avengers Assemble! boards), but who else is out there? I'm not begging of course, but I'm just curious and wouldn't mind some feedback.

Secondly, I need to make mention of a couple of issues/problems this blog could be facing down the line. The biggest one of all is the fact that we are slowly but surely catching up the regular MU. By my calculations, I'll be up to speed by the time the current "Endangered Species" story concludes at the end of November. Now, that being said, here's the issue we have . . .

The "Onslaught Reborn" mini-series suffered a major delay. Even though there is one more issue to come out, I have no idea when it'll be. This may mess us up a bit.

Then there's the current story in "Astonishing X-Men," which is hard to place continunity-wise, as well as needing 2-3 more issues until it wraps up. This is major problem. What I may end up doing is reserving a number for it and then, when the last of it comes out, go back and retroactively post the review. What does everyone think of that?

As far as the frequency of up-dates go, I can't promise anything. I'm working, I'm going to school, and I'm planning my wedding. Life is busy and sometimes comics need to take a back seat. But I'll do my best, dang it!

Okay, well, back to the show . . .


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 125: "Gifted"

Astonishing X-Men # 1-6

Kitty rejoins the X-Men just as the new year starts. Scott has decided that his team (Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty, Wolverine, and Beast) are coming to be the more public/super-hero face of the X-Men. This becomes quite true when an alien named Ord leads a group of mercenaries and takes hostages. As the X-Men intervine (and are rescued by Lockheed), Dr. Kavita Rao of Benetech announces a "cure" for Mutants.

The X-Men regroup at home as Hank gets a sample of the cure. He cross-references it and discovers that it matches up with someone in their database. The X-Men head back to Benetech, where the team handles security; meanwhile, Ord (who is an ally of Dr. Rao and provided her with the research to create the cure) heads to the school and encounters students Wing and Armor. He "cures" Wing as a warning to the X-Men, then heads back to Benetech.

Kitty, in the meantime, explores beneath Benetech and discovers a starship below . . . and an alive and well Colossus. She takes him back up to the surface, where he beats down on Ord before SHIELD and Agent Brand of SWORD (an organization that keeps an eye on other planets) shows up and tells the X-Men Ord has diplomatic immunity. Turns out Ord's planet of Breakworld is destined to be destroyed by one of the X-Men. Instead of wiping out the Earth, Ord made a deal with SWORD and gave Rao the means to create a cure to use against Mutants. Colossus was taken as a test.

Ord decides to take off and wage war against the Earth, but Wolverine and Colossus manage to stop him by using the old "Fastball Special." Ord is then taken into custody.

Joss Whedon is the new writer (obviously) and does a pretty good job at handling the team. The characters are well-realized, the dialogue is smart, the story has a good pace to it, and he does a good job at capturing nostalgia.

The story itself isn't anything new, though. An X-Man is destined to do something terrible isn't anything new, as we saw something similar with the whole "traitor" subplot back in the 90s. The idea of Mutant cure isn't exactly a new one either, as we've had two cases of it (that I know of). The return of a dead X-Man (Colossus) is far from new.

But it's the style in which all this comes back that makes it fresh and crisp. Honestly, if you had told me that basics of this story a year before I actually read it (the first time), I would have rolled my eyes. Yet, reading it, the story jumps out with a great energy and pace that just draws me right in.

The art is what really helps make the difference. John Cassaday's work here is amazing. His action scenes leave a little to desired, but other than that, he really captures the heart of the characters and produces a damn fine product.