Friday, January 26, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 86: "Magneto War"

X-Men # 85, X-Men: The Magneto War, Uncanny X-Men # 366, X-Men # 86, Uncanny X-Men # 367, X-Men # 87, Uncanny X-Men # 368, Magneto Rex # 1-3

Magneto, on the eve of his TERRIBLE ATTACK on humanity, goes off to make sure that he’s making the right decision. This means going to find the most average human he could locate – a guy named Joe. Having secretly flipped over the site of Joe’s construction company’s most recent project, Magneto disguises himself as a (basically) an insurance guy. He then gives Joe questions, trying to get into his head and tells him that Mutants are probably responsible for what happened. Turns out the dude doesn’t have a problem with that and after a bit of a debate, Joe pisses off Magneto by brining up Hitler. Magneto flips out and shows himself. In end, he is ready to attack, despite Joe telling him that Mutants are feared because of people like Magneto.

Meanwhile, the X-Men are rescuing babies from a hospital fire. When they exit, holding the newborns, there’s a standoff between the X-Men and prejudicial police and fireman. Professor X, feeling his dream on the verge of shattering at this confrontation, is stunned to see Storm take charge of the situation and end the situation peacefully. So, as Magneto heads to the North Pole and Professor X heads back to the mansion, both are more confirmed in their dreams and beliefs.

Shortly afterwards, Fabian Cortez and a group of rogue Acolytes launch an attack on the X-Men in the hope of finding out if Joseph is really Magneto. There’s a battle, but when the X-Men seek out and help one of the Acolytes, Cortez learns that he’s lost them for good and runs off, tail planted firmly between legs. At the same time, in Israel, Joseph is being tested by the Mossad to figure out what his deal is. Quicksilver shows up and the two make peace with each other.

The X-Men, then go hot on the trail of the real Acolytes (these taking orders from Magneto himself) and begin to chase them up the North Pole. As this unfolds, Magneto uses a spire to unleash a massive disruption of the electro-magnetic spectrum. This is while his robotic assistant (not his first, but far beyond Nanny) goes to the UN in Magneto’s name and demands a place for Mutants to flourish.

After the X-Men crash near Magneto’s spire, a woman named Astra confronts Joseph. She reveals to him the truth: after the fall of Avalon, Astra restored Magneto’s mind to accurately create a clone of Magneto. Turns out that Astra was a former member of the Brotherhood, but skipped out after a huge falling out. Anyways, Joseph (the clone) battled Magneto and Magneto wonked him in the head, leaving him amnesic. By that point, Astra was gone and Magneto went into hiding, watching the world unfold as he recuperated.

After all this comes out, Joseph and Astra then head off to the North Pole to deal with Magneto. Two nukes have been launched by the Russians, mind you, and that complicates matters. The X-Men then fight the Acolytes as Joseph and Magneto battle it out. All the while, Mutant affairs advisor and Genoshan expert Alda Huxly arranges a deal with the United Nations.

With the Acolytes dealt with and the X-Men now tackling Magneto (with Wolverine really pissed because of their last battle), Colossus and Professor X go to the aide of Joseph. Joseph, who is dying as he attempts to correct the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum, gives Xavier (and Colossus too) the gift of hope. He then fixes the world and dies.

At this point, Magneto is ready to go at it again with the X-Men when the United Nations show up, giving Magneto the control of Genosha. Wolverine flips out, but Xavier intervenes, understanding the X-Men have no choice in the matter. In the end, Magneto’s powers are in a bit of a dire state.

The X-Men mourn the passing of Joseph while Magneto begins to take control. Wolverine is planning an assassination attempt, but the X-Men don’t care for this. Their argument with Logan is interrupted, though, when some sort of alien teleports the X-Men away.

In Genosha, Magneto takes command. It’s soon evident that the reason the UN gave him Genosha was in the hopes that the problems with the Legacy Virus, civil war, and destroyed economy would make it impossible for him to accomplish anything.

The Zealot, a Mutate (and half-brother to Phillip Moreau), soon captures Quicksilver, who visits Genosha at the behest of Amelia Vought. Rogue discovers this during a solo mission there (with the rest of the X-Men missing). She and Vought go to Magneto, who dismisses his son’s possible execution. However, the Zealot is his chief rival on Genosha. Rogue and Vought soon launch a rescue mission, which then gets aided by Pipeline, Phillip, and Jenny Ransome. Magneto (with Cortez back as his personal battery-charging beyotch) shows up and promptly kills the Zealot. In time, seeing that Magneto is no longer the man she once knew, Rogue leaves. Quicksilver, being manipulated into seeing isolation camps for Mutates carrying the Legacy Virus, stays to be his father’s conscience (not knowing that those were established to reel his son in). Magneto then begins to take complete control over Genosha.

As a whole, it’s a good story. It lacks the depth of Uncanny X-Men # 275-277, X-Men # 1-3, and Fatal Attractions, but it has a certain Silver Age flare to it that makes it fun and enjoyable. The idea that Magneto and Xavier will just keep fighting each other is a good one, built upon the foundation of the first issue of the arch, which is one of the best X-Men books I’ve read (and Joe Kelly’s best – and last). The in-coming Alan Davis on writing is good, though it pushes the limits of credibility.

The idea of Magneto taking over Genosha is both good in idea, but terrible in execution. The United Nations hands over a nation (even a self-destruction one like Genosha) to a known terrorist? That’s maddening, especially if put into real world standards (as the Marvel Universe likes to be compared to). The story of Magneto’s rise on Genosha is well done, mind you, with a great bunch of characters for him to interact with.

I hate Astra. Among the worst characters ever.

Characterization is well done, I might add. While Magneto's character is more in tune with the original villian from the old days, Professor X, Joseph, Rogue, Quicksilver, and Wolverine all get some nice development.

So, not a terrible story, if not a little too Silver Age.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 85: "The Hunt for Xavier"

Uncanny X-Men # 361, X-Men # 81, Uncanny X-Men # 362, X-Men # 82, Uncanny X-Men # 363, X-Men # 83, Uncanny X-Men # 364, X-Men # 84, Uncanny X-Men # 365

Gambit's back! During a mission to help the Juggernaut and Black Tom get the power of Cytorrak back (as Juggs is dying without it), Storm and Shadowcat come across Gambit. He helps them fight some cult of Cytorrak, get the gem back to Juggernaut, then head back home with the cajun in tow.

Gambit and Rogue then head to Baltimore to sort through their problems. Unfortunately, a woman named Kali attacks them. Kali is crazy and is defeated rather quickly. Rogue and Gambit still have some serious issues, with Remy really wanting to stay away from her, but with Rogue wanting to be with him.

After dealing with Pyro being attacked by a Cerebro unit (yes, there are more than one evil Cerebros running around – this called a Cerebrite), the X-Men use a Cerebro (this one good, not evil) to find Professor X. They lock onto two signals – one in San Francisco and the other in Russia.

Storm leads Gambit, Rogue, and Colossus to Russia. There, they find a monastery under attack by another Cerebrite. They eventually find out that the little girl – Nina - from “Onslaught Epilogue” is there and after a long battle, Storm and Nina are taken captive.

Meanwhile the others (Nightcrawler, Marrow, Wolverine, and Shadowcat) head to San Fran to find the Professor. They come across the brand-new Brotherhood of Mutants: Toad, Post, Blob, and Mimic. It turns out they’ve busted the Professor out to help them against Cerebro. A battle between the Brotherhood and the X-Men soon become bickering between the two of them when Cerebro attacks. Cerebro teleports most of the Brotherhood back to his base in Jersey, as well as Shadowcat. Wolverine then has the rest of the gang (save Kurt) get teleported away in the hopes of finding them. Nightcrawler, meanwhile heads off to get the rest of the X-Men.

It all comes down to a big battle in New Jersey. There, we find out that Bastion + Nanites + Cerebro + Shi’ar + Protective Virus = Living Cerebro. Whoops. Well, the X-Men won’t make that mistake again. Cerebro forces Nina to reactivate Professor X’s powers and he uses them to make Cerebro think that the X-Men are defeated. Then, when Cerebro threatens all life, Professor X and Nina show him the world and Cerebro (while dying) is sad. The day is saved and the X-Men take Professor X home (with Nina going back with Majcomb).

On Christmas Eve, then, Colossus chases ghosts, concluding with a meeting with his sister, who tells him not to forget her.

All in all, I don’t care for these stories. The Christmas Eve one is cute, but the “Hunt for Xavier” and “Gambit’s Return” stories are so very bland and overly complicated. Cerebro is one of the X-Men’s worse villains. I mean, it was just bad. I’d rather have had Arcade or Mojo as the villain.

I don’t know what was up the dialogue either. The characters kept describing what they were doing. What the? Is it 1968?

The art was pretty bad too, with just a few okay scenes from Yu and Bachelo. But other than that, this whole story in the X-Men’s history goes down in flames.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 84: "Transition"

X-Factor # 148, Excalibur # 122-125, X-Factor #149, Mutant X # 1, Uncanny X-Men # 360, X-Men # 80

Once more, another strange coincidence hits the X-Periment!

As we dive into issues celebrating the 35th anniversary, I’ve found myself posting this entry on the 1-year anniversary of the X-Periment! Yay! Not necessarily here on blogger, as it all started on my blurty.

Getting down to business, this small batch of comics sees the end of two long-running X-Books (X-Factor and Excalibur – until 2006, at least), the kick off of a new one, and a new team for the X-Men.

Starting with X-Factor, Havok meets up with Polaris. As they deal with Gyrich and Mandroids, Havok explains that everything he had done was to defeat Dark Beast. I don’t know the details of the stories leading up to it, but all one needs to really gleam out of this book is that Havok is really a good guy, didn’t mean to endanger his big brother and all the people on the plane. And Polaris may or may not still love him, but probably doesn’t.

Across the pond, Nightcrawler has a lead on Professor X’s location. They head to Peru, where they discover an abandoned Operation: Zero Tolerance base. They deal with some Prime Sentinels who have regained their individuality and are under attack by a prisoner within the base. Excalibur discovers the prison to be none other than our old pals Mimic! As they do everything they can to get him back to normal, Captain Britain returns to Muir Island (he left?) and proposes to Meggan.

After Feron and Crazy Gang crash the bachelor and bachlorette party, the wedding is held. A who’s-who of Excalibur characters guest-star in this wedding. It’s tons of fun. However the team decides to disband, with Shadowcat, Colossus, and Nightcrawler agreeing to head back to the X-Men.

Meanwhile, Havok gathers up the remains of X-Factor in the hopes of forming a new team. This includes Bishop’s holographic sister Shard, time-travelers Greystone and Fixx, Polaris, and Madrox. Things go crazy when Greystone decides to head back to his own time. He high-jacks a jet and launches it, but the time machine is all messed up and will potentially destroy all of DC. Havok gets on board and manages to destroy, but at the cost of his own life!

. . . Or is it?! (dun-dun-dun!) Havok awakens in a parallel reality, where he is the leader of the old school X-Factor-like team called the Six. Who are the Six? Goblin Queen/Marvel Woman (Maddie Pryor – again) is his wife and mother his child, Scotty. Ice-Man is there, but can’t touch anyone without freezing them. Beast is there, but is stupid. Archangel, aka the Fallen is all messed up post-Apocalypse. Storm is a vampire now, called Bloodstorm. Oh, and Elektra is lil Scotty’s nanny. Cute, huh? These guys are anti-heroic X-Men – and Havok is stuck with ‘em.

In the real world, a team of “new” X-Men attack Colossus, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler on a cruise. They manage to save the boat, but Kitty is captured and brought to a rather emotion-less Professor X. Meanwhile, what’s left of the X-Men (as, in between issues, many of them have moved on) meet up with Val Cooper to discuss the disappearance of Peter Corbeau and his connection with a experimental shuttle going to launch at Camp Citadel (on the anniversary of their battle there). The X-Men head to Camp Citadel to deal with the launch, but are sidetracked when the faux X-Men attack them. As this is happening, Kitty does something to some computer for the strange Professor X. With Nightcrawler and Colossus joining the X-Men, they run and hide in the swamps of Florida. Kitty, in the meantime, finds Corbeau and they escape. It’s the a race of Citadel, which culminates in the X-Men blowing up the shuttle after a crappy launch and defeating the imposter Xavier and the faux X-Men. It’s discovered at some point that the shuttle’s had on board a weapon that could destroy Mutants from space. The X-Men then head on home, roster established: Storm, Rogue, Marrow, Wolverine, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Colossus.

It’s a mixed bunch. While it’s nice to see Mimic again and Excalibur dealing with the fall-out of OZT, the Excalibur issues are all fairly weak – save one. The final issue, which stands head and shoulders above the rest. Probably the best out of this group. It’s a fun story, with some great appearances, some nice nods at previous stories, puts a nice capper on the series.

X-Factor suffers a harsher fate. Other than fixing the whole Havok-is-a-bad-guy sub-plot, we’re really just seeing X-Factor shuffling off Havok to “Mutant X.” I don’t even care so much for Havok being not a bad guy as I thought it was a crappy change of character in the first place, but even I feel like it’s a cop-out. Plus, the Creed assassination is still up in the air. It’s just a crappy finale. Mutant X is a terrible book, but putting an evil Havok in there and making the book about him turning good despite being around all this dark reflections of his friends and family would have been better.

Plus, we never once see Cyclops deal with the loss of brother.

X-Men is pretty weak. I’ll admit it’s nice having Kitty, Peter, and Kurt back, but the story is quite silly. Fake new X-Men that are given complete origins? A living Cerebro unit is the villain? A government-authorized death ray? What? Joe Kelly and Steve Seagle are smarter than this. Luckily, we get some nice character development, though that’s a little on the downside. It is nice to have an established team now instead of the fluidic “whoever is around” we’ve had for the past couple of issues.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 83: "The World As It Could Have Been"

X-Men # 73-76, Uncanny X-Men # 356-357, X-Men # 77- 78, Uncanny X-Men # 358, Cable # 57, Uncanny X-Men # 359, Cable # 58, X-Men # 79

Despite it being so short, I have to say that I really enjoy the Kelly/Seagle run on the X-Men books. They were really starting to get things moving before their plans were shredded and they were shuffled off.

Anyways . . .

Kicking things, we have Sabra going to the mansion to retrieve Joseph, whom she believes is really Magneto. Maggot convinces her he's not and Sabra and Joseph head off to figure out just who in the world he really is.

Meanwhile, Archangel and Marrow deal with the Abomination in the sewers of NYC. There's a lot of talk about beauty, as Abomination feels Archangel has no place in his world being so good looking. In, they handle him and Marrow decides to head back to the mansion.

In Salem Center, mysterious murders keep occuring. Maggot thinks it's his slugs, Eeny and Meany, but Wolverine soon discovers it's not them and that it is in fact some N'Gari-like creatures called the Ru'Tai, who are investigating humanity for invasion or something. Eventually, the X-Men deal with them.

We then learn the origin of Maggot, which is quite tragic. He ran away when he was kid, as his parents believed he was dying. Out in the desert, seeking to kill himself, he finds that his little brother tagged along. They are then rescued by old school Magneto, who releases Maggot's slugs. It's then revealed that the slugs are in fact part of his digestive system.

The original X-Men then gather together at Scott and Jean's Alaska home for a few reasons. The main one is to figure out why Jean is wearing the Phoenix costume. The second is to re-evaluate the dream and the goals of the X-Men. They don't get a chance, as the small town Scott and Jean are living in is suddenly attacked by massive amount of killer crows.

In Africa, Storm takes the team to her old village, where it's revealed that the Shadow King has returned. Not only that, but he's set a trap for Psylocke. Her power kicks off a chain reaction that nearly kills her and knocks out all telepathy world-wide (temporarily). The new X-Men are then offered to stand beside the Shadow King while the more veteran X-Men are tortured. Psylocke, with the help of the Crimson Dawn and Storm's old foster mother (the quasi-magician Ainet), is eventually able to overcome Shadow King by trapping him in her own mind.

Jean is struck with the telepathic black-out while preparing to leave. This prompts a decision to remain in Alaska, as well as clears out some tension that was brewing between the couple.

Cable is hit by the telepathic black-out just as he is rescuing Blaquesmith from a temporarily stranded Rama-Tut (who kidnapped Blaquesmith to help him get back to the 30th century).

Up in space, Bishop and Deathbird crash on a planet that is being invaded. Bishop nearly dies saving the world and he and Deathbird depart with some tension between the two of them.

Rogue finally agrees to go through with Doctor Agee's procedure to get rid of powers. Mystique intervines and eventually, Rogue destorys the machine fearing that too many wrong decisions could be made with it.

Cable, meanwhile, goes off to that Askani cult that Ch'Varye started up during his time in this era. There, he picks up the Psimiter, a weapon that would help him in the up-coming battle with Apocalypse.

In NYC, Storm and Callisto hunt down Marrow, who is on the rampage. What set her off? A crush on Cannonball . . . and finding out that he is going home for a few weeks to take care of his sick Mama.

All in all, a fairly nice batch. The Ru'Tari issues, unfortunately, aren't very strong. Neither is the Bishop/Deathbird story any good. Rogue's sub-plot remains nicely grounded and Marrow continues to break out as a strong character. The Psi-War is good, but it could have been better. Cable's actions these days get better and better. I also liked Maggot's backstory -- cool to see it grounded so very deeply in X-Men lore, while still able to stand alone.

The crowning achievement, however, is the original X-Men/X-Factor reunion. I love seeing these characters back together again. Seagle really did a great job at bringing a sense of family and brotherhood to the original X-Men gang.

Art is good, with German Garcia filling in at times. He's not the best X-Men artist, but he's pretty good non-the-less.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 82: "Mythology"

X-Force # 74-75, Cable # 48-53

It's trouble for Cable and X-Force!

After discovering that it was Stryfe that had years ago ordered the death of his people, Warpath encounters him in Hell . . . or something like it. There, Stryfe has struck a deal with Blackheart that if he is able to best Warpath, he gets to return to the land of the living. However, thanks to Dani Moonstar's old skool magic powers, she and X-Force are able to rescue him and Stryfe is thrown into a pit of some sort.

Looking for some R&R, X-Force heads to the Burning Man Festival. It's there they are reunited with Cannonball and Karma. Cable is also there, following them to make sure that they are indeed ready to lead out their own lives. After Selene's attack accidently brings the Burning Man himself to life, they proof to Cable (unwittingly so) that they are adults.

In NYC, Irene Merryweather launches an investigation into Sebastian Shaw. When she begins to catch a lead, she finds the entire staff of her tabloid paper - the Inquiring Eye - has been killed by the Hellfire Club. She too is targeted, but is rescued by Cable. Cable then asks her to be his chronicler - someone to write down his story. He then tells her of the mysterious "Tomorrow Agenda" and learns that Shaw is working with Donald Pierce (isn't he dead?) on it. Maddie then shows up and points Cable in the right direction. Cable and Irene end up in England, in an old manor where Apocalype left a powerful device with a person inside.

With the time traveled Ch'Varye, Shaw and Pierce activate the machine to help them track down Apocalypse. Shaw and Pierce are looking to use Apocalypse's power to their own will. Ch'Varye wants a confrontation between 'Poccy and Cable. Cable arrives on the scene as the machine activates. A cyborg emerges from it, being once a man who Apocalypse had taken in teh 1800's (when all that Sinister stuff was happening). This man has become Apocalypse Herald, though he is not yet activated.

Cable and Irene then track Shaw and co. to the Swiss Alps. With the help and eventual sacriface of Golden Age villian Master Man (who is seeking redemption), Cable arrives at one of Apocalypse's fortresses. A battle ensues. Ch'Vayre ends up in a capsule that puts him in statis and will transform him into an agent of Apocalypse (the one we all know and love - ugh). The base is blowed up.

Despite the Ch'Vayre stuff, I really like this era of Cable. He's a slimmer character, continunity wise and both James Robinson and Joe Casey do a great job of setting him on the right course. They've captured the core essence of Cable and have set him on the road to fighting Apocalypse. Lots of tension and foreshadowing. Ladronn likewise does a fantastic job. His quasi-Kirby style is perfect for this title.

"X-Force" itself is good too - really capturing the grungy, slack-like feel of that age group in the 90's.