Monday, February 26, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 89: "Apocalypse - The Twelve"

Avengers # 9, Cable # 64-69, Annual ’99, Uncanny X-Men # 372, X-Men # 92, Astonishing X-Men # 1-3, Gambit # 8-9, Uncanny X-Men # 373-374, X-Men # 93-94, Bishop # 1, Uncanny X-Men # 375, X-Men # 95, Wolverine # 145, Cable # 73-74, X-Man # 60, Uncanny X-Men # 376, Cable # 75, X-Men # 96, Wolverine # 146-147, Uncanny X-Men # 377, Cable # 76, X-Men # 97, Uncanny X-Men # 378, X-Men # 98

(Note: much like “Fatal Attractions” and “Onslaught,” I’ve included non-crossover billed stories. I’ve included these because, in unison, all of these stories form into one larger story, which seems to work better in the overall plot of this crossover)

We open with Avengers. On board a cruise ship, the Avengers close in on Moses Magnum, who has stolen a piece of technology to help get rid of his uncontrollable Earthquake-producing powers. The Avengers corner him on land, where he rants about Apocalypse coming and how his powers have been used by Apocalypse in the past. He is then sucked into the ground.

In NYC, Cable gives Irene Merryweather the rundown of his life. This is coupled with Cable’s growing relationship with waitress Irene Merryweather, with who he is starting to feel as though he should reveal all his secrets to. During a mission to stop the vile Acidroid, Cable gets a vision from Rachel, who tells him of the 12. In the meantime, Ozymadias takes Blaquesmith away to warn him that a great test is coming.

New York is then attacked by the Harbinger, who takes on both Cable and the Avengers. A battle follows, with the Harbinger eventually being tossed into another dimension. Upon his return, Apocalypse reprograms him and damns Cable with a choice: let the Harbinger destroy New York and spare the world Apocalypse’s conquest OR spare New York and face the power of Apocalypse. The choice is obvious. He grabs hold of Harbinger, being blasted over the ocean by Iron Man’s boots. Harbinger explodes, but Cable is rescued by a group of outside of time/space police officers, who warn of a great upset coming. They also have Sanctity captured, with whom they plan on destroying. Some insanity follows and Cable returns to his home. Not long afterwards, Cable is tested by Mr. Sinister, who offers his help and even goes so far as to restore Cable’s telepathy. Cable rejects his help and threatens to go after Sinister after he’s done with Apocalypse.

Meanwhile, at the mansion, Xavier puts the X-Men through a rigorous training exercise and acts rather cold and distant towards the team. Storm confronts him, but soon afterwards, the X-Men decide to take some time off. Cyclops and Phoenix arrive to assess the situation, but are unable to help things. The X-Men go their separate ways, with Storm remaining with Professor X.

Cyclops, Wolverine, and Phoenix receive a distress message from Nina, who had encountered her “family,” the super-powerful beings called the Mannites. Claiming someone named Death was after her and the other Mannites, the trio calls upon Cable, X-Man, and Archangel for help. The six of them go back to the Hulkbuster Base and discover that it and Bastian have been vastly decimated. They encounter a being called Death and the battle takes them across the state when one of the Mannites undergoes something called the “Changing” (Mannite puberty). Eventually, a battle is fought between the X-Men and Death, in which Wolverine is killed by Death himself. It’s then revealed that the Mannites were a threat to Apocalypse, but they take down Death, who teleports away. The Mannites then go off into . . . uh . . . limbo. And yeah, Wolverine is dead.

At the same time, Gambit goes in search of Mr. Sinister to figure out what is wrong Xavier, thinking that he may have been replaced. This search takes him to Sabretooth, who has been recently gravely injured. Sabretooth leads Gambit to Sinister, who takes Sabretooth in and gives Gambit what he needs – a chemical and some telepathic device.

Also at the same time, Marrow and Colossus stumble upon Mikhail (yay!) who, in his little realm, tries to restore Illyana. Colossus refuses and exposes an entity that has been using Mikhail to do evil. The entity is defeated and Marrow and Colossus take Mikhail back to the mansion.

And taking at the same time as well, Shadowcat, Rogue, and Nightcrawler go to NYC. While Nightcrawler hangs out with a paranoid Polaris, Rogue and Shadowcat encounter Mystique. Sunfire is hunting Mystique for being a suspected assassin. Rogue eventually shows Sunfire that a shadowy agency is using shape-shifters to do their assassin work and framing Mystique. The shadowy agency goes further underground.

And again, at the same time, Bishop suddenly returns to Earth after being knocked out by Deathbird, who found the Living Monolith floating in space. Bishop returns to the mansion, but is quickly whisked off to another reality.

All this time, there are shadowy things happening. Deathbird delivers the body of the Living Monolith to its cult, and she is in turn knocked out by Apocalypse. Shadowcat also discovers a diary written by Destiny, which warns of some bad shit going down.

The X-Men regroup at the mansion with Wolverine’s body, this time joined by Beast and Moira. After being put through a ringer of a civil war mental battle, Professor X reveals that since they were knocked out in space after their Skrull time jump adventure, he suspected a traitor in the ranks. He uses the chemical that Sinister gave Gambit on the dead Wolverine and Wolverine’s body transforms into . . . a Skrulls! GASP!

The X-Men then lay a trap for the Skrull, who are after Polaris. They track the Cyclops-disguised-as-Polaris (Image Inducer) and they fight. Death shows up, takes Havok’s helmet (also stolen from Polaris’ apartment) and the X-Men battle with him. After a huge punch, Death’s face is revealed: he’s Wolverine! GASP (part two)!

Wolverine is then dispatched to deal with the Hulk, who had a while ago rejected Apocalypse’s place as War. During this battle, we see that the Skrull had captured Wolverine and replaced him at the behest of Apocalypse. Apocalypse then tested Wolverine, pitting him against Sabretooth for a place as a Horseman – Death (duh). Wolverine, not wanting to see what kinda hell Sabretooth would unleash with Apocalypse’s power, finished Sabretooth off. Sabretooth then had his Adamantium leeched off and Wolverine got it back and was brainwashed into becoming Death. In the present, Wolverine proves just not fit for Hulk, but Apocalypse says it’s okay.

Meanwhile, Cable goes off to see X-Force. With all the recent events, he wants to see them off in case he dies in the up-coming battle with Apocalypse. Unfortunately, they are ambushed by Caliban, who become Pestilence. Along with Deathbird, as War, the two Horsemen manage to trick Cable into getting captured.

Pestilence then attacks X-Man, who is then taken to Apocalypse.

Back at the mansion, the X-Men decrypt a message from Destiny’s diary. It reveals who the twelve: Cyclops, Phoenix, Cable, Magneto, Polaris, Professor X, Bishop (who Apocalypse pulled back to 616), Mikhail, Sunfire, Iceman, Storm, and the Living Monolith. As this is being revealed, the X-Men discover a Skrull with powers among them. His name is Fizz and he tells the X-Men that any “Mutant” Skrulls are either killed or recruited into the service of Skrull Empire.

Back at Apocalypse’s lair, Cable breaks free, battles Wolverine/Death, then battles Apocalypse himself. The battle turns to Cable’s favor . . . but then Wolverine threatens to kill Caliban unless he surrenders. Cable does so.

The X-Men try to assemble the Twelve, but many of them are intercepted by War and Famine (Ahab!?!?). Death then enters the mansion to take Mikhail, but is taken down by Fizz and the X-Men. Death manages to get Mikhail away, but Death is chased into the Morlock tunnels. Following him are Archangel, Shadowcat, Jubilee, and Nightcrawler – with Psylocke and Moria monitoring from afar. Using telepathy and emotional confrontation, they are able to cut through the layers of brainwashing. However, the power that Apocalypse placed in Archangel surfaces. Wolverine and Psylocke follow him around as Archangel uses this power to restore hope and to heal. He then releases the power to save the old War from being paralyzed the rest of his life.

The other X-Men plus Magneto arrive at Apocalypse’s fortress in Egypt. There, they encounter Skrulls and Cultists. The Skrulls dupe the rest of the Twelve into being teleported down into the fortress being posing as allies and enemies. There, it’s revealed that Apocalypse is going to use the Twelve plus some Celestial technology to channel vast amounts of power into him. To contain these energies, he’s going to merge his body with X-Man’s (remember when Blaquesmith said Nate Grey wasn’t supposed to exist? This is why, though I think it was unintentional)(and hey, this is just like what he wanted to do with Stryfe in “Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix”).

Soon, the machine activates, but not until after Cable and Cyclops have a telepathic encounter with Maddie, who assures Cable that she is always there for him or something.

Magneto, his power not what it used to be, screws the machine up. The Monolith breaks free. Cable, Professor X, Cyclops, Phoenix, and Mikhail head off to deal with Apocalypse and X-Man while the rest fight the Monolith, whose gone nutty.

The battle reaches fever pitch when Fizz leads the Mutant Skrulls against their overseers and the Cultists. They join in the battle, but Bishop absorbs too much power and overloads the Monolith, defeating him, then blasts back to the timeline he hanging out in. Likewise, Mikhail teleports himself, Caliban, Deathbird, and Ahab (again – ?!?!) to another dimension, allowing his four companions to rescue Nate Grey. Jean and Professor X have their telepathic assault backfire – same with Cyclops and his optic blast. Cable is slammed down by a force field. Jean attacks again, this time ripping Apocalypse’s armor off, revealing a crusty, ugly old man beneath. Jean is then blasted away and Apocalypse, oozing with power, begins to merge with Nate Grey. Cyclops, having no other choice and having his powers nonfunctional, leaps in, pushing Nate away, and merges with Apocalypse just as the other X-Men are entering.

Reality itself goes nutty. The X-Men then relive their first battle, but it’s revealed to be a ruse created by Apocalypse. Then, 100 years later, the X-Men gather again to save the life of a dying Professor X. They do so, but it’s revealed again to be a ruse created by Apocalypse. The X-Men break free. Apocalypse, his body merged with Cyclops (and Scott, for all intents and purposes dead, though Jean doubts it) takes the Monolith and they teleport away.

The X-Men move on. Professor X struggles with what to do with the Mutant Skrulls. Polaris, having learned more about her powers from Magneto, heads to Genosha with him. Jean, angry at Professor X, leaves the X-Men for good, a ghost now hanging between them


At it’s very core, “Apocalypse: The Twelve” is a story that wants to be more. It’s quite obvious that the writers intentionally (or even unintentionally, which I suspect) tried to infuse the idea of failure into the story. In many ways, failure is what the story is about. Cable’s failure to stop Apocalypse, Apocalypse’s failure to channel the power of the 12, and, in the end, the failure of stopping Cyclops from ending his own life to stop Apocalypse . . . and even him failing in that regard. In these ways, the story succeeds. Unfortunately, the weight and tragic feel of the story is almost nonexistent. It’s obvious that everyone involved in the project wanted “Apocalypse: The Twelve” to have the same sort of impact and feel of, say, “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and “Endgame.” In that way, the story fails itself.

The story in it of itself is not terrible. Rather, it’s fairly decent. Conspiracies, tests, failures, losses, deceptions . . . all of these concepts are placed into the context of this story rather well. Characters develop, relationships grow, and even the ideas aren’t too bad. Unfortunately, what is so very necessary is missing – and that is the historical aspect of the story.

In so many ways, “Apocalypse: The Twelve” should have been the culmination of everything Cable and Apocalypse related thus far. The very idea of the Twelve is thrown out the window as soon as their names are listed off. They were supposed to be great leaders of Mutantkind, those that would lead the way out of darkness and gather against Apocalypse. What happened? They ended up tossed into spheres on a big ol’ tilt-a-whirl.

Cable himself gets the short end of the stick. After he surrenders to Apocalypse because his friend-turned-enemy is threatened, he just kicks himself, saying “I’ve failed, I’m a loser, etc.” That’s not the Cable I know. The Cable I know would have done something to Wolverine – like telekinetically held his claws back, then taken control of Caliban’s body and sent the Morlock away. AND THEN, resumed the battle with Apocalypse. It bothers me that Cable, after basically training himself since birth to fight and defeat Apocalypse, gave up so damn easily. This was his moment of glory! This was his chance! And what happened? He gave up like a pansy!

What it lacks in history, it also lacks in scope. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly touched enough X-Books – if one counts “The Shattering” along with “The Twelve” proper. But the crossover itself just wasn’t big enough. This was supposed to be a major point in the X-Men mythos, one that should have been the scale of “Onslaught.” But there was none of that. X-Force, while involved, just didn’t take the role that we wanted to see. Where were they to back Cable up? Where was Generation X, other than Jubilee? Mr. Sinister, who was so critical in the overall Cable/Apocalypse story, was practically nowhere to be found (and oh, do I have a rant saved up for him). Don’t get me wrong, we saw plenty of characters, but during the final showdown? Just a few. Not even the full rooster of the X-Men was there – after they hunted down Wolverine and Archangel, they went off and guest-stared in “Machine Man” and then played with Exodus in an annual. What the hell?

“Oh wait, guys! Even though Apocalypse is pretty much going to conquer the Earth, we have to track down whoever is hacking into our system and stealing our MP3s! Oh, and don’t forget, we have to make a pit stop at Genosha!”


You know what I wanted? I wanted to see the X-Men, X-Force, and Generation X and anyone else they’ve got running around to stand against Apocalypse. What did we get? Well, five X-Men fighting outside in the sand, with the rest either making a run at Apocalypse or conveniently vanishing away. I wanted a battle that rivaled the one on the moon during “X-Ecutioner’s Song” or in Central Park in “Onslaught” or even in NYC in “Age of Apocalypse.”

In a macro sense, the limited characters is only half the problem with the scope of the story. Apocalypse, while a threat all his own, didn’t hold onto the weight or tension we normally get with him. Let’s look at his history, shall we? When he finally accepted that he was a Mutant and therefore, stronger than anyone else, he ripped his way through Egypt. When he made his presence known to the X-Men (then X-Factor), you could just tell that he was much more of a threat than we had initially seen. After that, during “Fall of the Mutants,” he unleashes his kick-ass horsemen, who do their best to fulfill their names. In “Endgame,” he ruthlessly gives baby Nathan the techno-organic virus, wondering if he’s a threat or not. In “X-Ecutioner’s Song,” he gets his ass handed to him, but only by the really powerful guys and that’s only because he’s at his weakest. When “Onslaught” took place, we started to see that Apocalypse was a man with a plan. He was wise and dark and very, very powerful. Ditto with “Age of Apocalypse” – look what he did to that Earth. And ever since “Onslaught,” we’ve known Apocalypse is up to no good. You could just tell that some serious shit was going down. It was just a matter of time before Apocalypse took on the world and that Cable had better be ready.

Unfortunately? The world just means Egypt and the X-Mansion. Sure, Archangel flies around NYC while empowered by Apocalypse (I guess), but he didn’t really do anything. The Horsemen didn’t do a whole lot other than gather the Twelve. The world didn’t seem to be under threat, despite Apocalypse ranting every now and then and occasionally saying something like “The world will soon know that the Age of Apocalypse will begin soon!” Apocalypse doesn’t even seem to have some good minions. Cultists? Skrulls? Neat as it may seem, both groups are undermined by the fact that they either look or sound ridiculous.

The kicker of the story is the end. I have to hand it to the writers and editors for giving us such a down ending. It definitely had an “Empire Strikes Back” kinda feel. But talk about anti-climatic. Even the end of “Onslaught,” as sad as it was, had the villain buying it. The end of “Apocalypse: The Twelve” makes you feel confused by the strange alternate realities, then . . . leaves you hanging when ‘Poccy and Monolith run off together. Plus, during the final battle, did the X-Men become stupid or something? You’d think that after the first time they were duped, they’d figure out that their were being tricked by the Skrulls – who they already know are shape-shifters.

So . . . after all this, I’m betting you think I really hated the story. To be honest, it wasn’t that great. But to be even more honest, there are some very redeeming points. I listed above all of my disappointments with the story. But I have come to appreciate the better portions of plot. There are some nice character moments. Wolverine, especially, comes across decently here. His reasoning for giving into Apocalypse is well done. His return to grace is also well written, with nice layers of history placed in there in both the cases of Wolverine and Archangel. It was co-written by Fabian Niciezia, whom I wish had handled the whole thing. Cable, despite the major mishandle involving his battle with Apocalypse and all his stupid angst, gets some nice moments too (mostly written by Joe Casey – who also should have written most of this story). The relationship between Scott, Jean, Cable, X-Man, and Maddie is brought up, which brings some nice character development to the plot, allowing it some grounding. Rogue and Gambit continue to fight the awkwardness between them, but only find they keep pushing each other away. Professor X comes off rather coldly here, but that’s his damn fault.

I also appreciate the complexity of the story, even though it relies on some pretty big coincides. Each character has a small, but vital role to the play in the overall plot, which works out nice. And even though I complained that the story worked on too small a scale, we do see a lot of characters throughout the story: Cable and his pals, Apocalypse, Deathbird, Bishop, Hulk, the Avengers, Harbinger, X-Force, Jubilee, Mr. Sinister, the Marauders, Mystique, Mikhail, Nina, Bastian, the Mannites, Maddie, Moria, Moses Magnum, Ahab (whose appearances bothers me, but it’s a worthless rant), Sanctity, Rachel, Sabretooth, Polaris, and Magneto. It’s unfortunate that these characters weren’t always well handled and didn’t have stronger roles, but . . . meh. It’s neat to see them.

The art is rather good too. Lanndron brings his Kirby-esque look that really captures the power of Cable, the Harbinger, and the Avengers. Liefeld seems to channel some good work when he draws the rather disappointing yet good looking Apocalypse/Cable battle. Yu brings in the energy that the Hulk/Wolverine/Sabretooth battles needed. Davis brings it home, even though some of the coloring sucks and ruins it. Kubert, Raney, and the other fill-ins (whose names I unfortunately forget) also do a fine job.

The story is its own sort of epic. There are some flaws in its foundation and the ending is just not strong enough, but overall, it’s a nice read. It’s a decent story, even though I have my reservations regarding some elements.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 88: "The Kids"

X-Man # 45-46, Cable # 63, X-Man # 47, Generation X # 46-50, X-Man # 50, Generation X # 51, X-Force # 94-95, Generation X # 53-58, X-Man # 53-55

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the “kids,” so I thought we’d check in on X-Man, X-Force, Cable, and Generation X.

We start off the X-Man/Cable crossover by the name of “Blood Brothers.” Nate Grey arrives in Latveria with Maddie following up some prophetic, destruction dreams. Shortly after encountering Blaquesmith, a pyramid shows up contained the completely alive and well Stryfe and the restored Dark Riders. There’s a psi-battle. Some of the Dark Riders go off to kill Jean and Scott, but Maddie secretly save them. Stryfe, who hopes to siphon off his power using Doom’s energy-absorbing machine, then captures Nate. But Cable shows up to save his ass! Wooohoo! However, Cable falls to Stryfe as well, since Stryfe now has some of Nate’s powers. Maddie then goes and joins Stryfe’s side. Eventually, a crazy battle follows in which Stryfe BLOWS UP.

Over at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, there’s trouble afoot. After getting new school uniforms and saving an inspector from the board of education, the Generation X kids face down an alien/computer creature spawned out from a new Danger Room that Forge created. Following this, the school turns out to be in financial ruin. Emma goes to her sister Adrienne for help. Adrienne decides to help her by becoming a third headmaster and opening the school up to the general public.

This does not go well. The Generation Xer’s head out to Boston to air out their problems – Jono and Paige’s suffering relationship; Monet and Jubilee’s anger at each other; Gaia’s place in the world. They then encounter Gene Nation, who takes them to the Dark Beast. Back at campus, Emma Frost and Gaia come across Nate Grey, who was psi-probed by Emma earlier. Nate helps Emma free Generation X and they part on pleasant company. Upon returning the campus, Generation X tracks down the captured Banshee, who was kidnapped when his father took one of the human students (Tristan) home. They free him and Tristan finds out Generation X’s secret.

Meanwhile, X-Force heads to Genosha at the behest of Pete Wisdom. Wisdom lured the team there with a box full o’ memories in the hopes that they would help him recover an AI computer that crashed near Genosha. After encountering Quicksilver, battles between the Acolytes and Magistrates, and Magneto himself, X-Force fulfills the mission and gets the AI (which is really the brain of Pete’s old friend Archie, who now has a new robot body).

Generation X go through a number of trials. This includes an adventure in Madripoor with Paladin against a new team called the Rising Sons to retrieve a sword that belongs to Adrienne. After this, the team is forces to relive the death of the Hellions, which was arranged by Adrienne to torture Emma Frost. Adrienne departs and the gang prepares for the big dance – so there’s tons o’ teen drama! This dance gets interrupted by the arrival of Emplate, which eventually leads to the freeing of Monet’s sister from the Penance form and the creation of a new Penance entity (who then goes off and fights with a bigfoot –yeah). Monet’s father, upon picking up his daughters, then insists that M goes to a new school.

Finally, Nate Grey, Cyclops, and Phoenix are up in Alaska, where a mountain base from the Age of Apocalypse somehow manifested itself in a mountain. The trio goes to blow it up before it unleashes an army of Infinities. This includes a battle with a creature called Rachet-9, which doesn’t last long. After this, they encounter Modt and Jahf, the guardians of the M’Kraan Crystal, who test Nate Grey. He passes and Nate leaves, feeling better and strong in his relationship with Scott and Jean.

So, okay, let’s break it down.

“Blood Brothers.” Ugh. Well, besides a nice little reunion and nice moments seeing Stryfe, Maddie, Nate, and Cable together, this story doesn’t make any sense at all. How did Stryfe come back? And why was it just to steal Nate’s power? Shouldn’t he have just as much power as Nate? Ugh.

Generation X provides some nice drama, but the comic comes off a little silly at times. The X-Man crossover is rather cliched and forced, although it’s cool to see the characters interact. Nate’s a good fit with Generation X and I enjoyed seeing them take on Dark Beast and Gene Nation together. I wish there had been a stronger conclusion to this story, as it would have made it much better. I got a nice feeling of nostalgia while reading this, as it was what “New Mutants” was to the teens of the 80s and “New X-Men” is (supposedly) to the teens of now. The more “school”-related issues are better than the super-heroic ones, as they are much less cliched and far more relateable.

X-Force’s adventures in Genosha make up the most interesting of this group. These kinds of missions are pretty much why Cable formed the team. Seeing them face off with Magneto is a great scene, as it stands on a foundation of Magneto’s tenure as their teacher.

What I did like, out of all of this mess, was seeing Nate Grey interacts with different parts of the X-Men mythos finally dropping that “I hate all those X-Peoples except for Rogue and Syrin” that was had hurt his character for so very long. Really, this was when the character and X-Man stories started to get good.

The art is decent, though no real highlights.

Overall, despite some nice points, it’s pretty much “blah.”


Friday, February 09, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 87: "Journey"

(I honestly don't have the issues with me right now -- I'll log them in a little later)
(also, my apologies for the delayed up-date: I've been out of town, plus had a heckuva time logging in here)

The long and short of it:

The X-Men (sans Rogue) has been teleported to the Odkit dimension, whose deities (beings called the Trion – I think they later show up in the “Avengers”) are under attack by a demon that has been taken control of the Juggernaut. In this new dimension, the X-Men’s powers act all wonky. Gambit accidentally injures Marrow. Storm becomes an avatar of the Trion. Professor X’s mind ends up stuck with Wolverine’s mind in Wolvie’s body, where start to understand each other.

The X-Men succeed or whatever and hope that their new little alien friend will teleport them back to where and when they belong. Unfortunately, their new little alien is pretty stupid and the X-Men end up in a simulated New York City (and back a few years), which has been built to serve as an infiltration training camp for the Skrulls, as they are pretending to super-heroes based on the media’s perception of said heroes. Gambit runs off to help Marrow while the other X-Men try and deal with Skrulls. Kitty encounters some Skrulls who are kicked outcasted from the camp because their ‘personas’ are dead.

The situation for the X-Men goes from bad to worse when Galactus shows up. All attempts made by Xavier to stop Galactus from eating the homeworld are ignored. Meanwhile, Marrow emerges from a magic healing magician looking all beautiful like. Gambit is stunned and hopes that by helping her, he was able to find some redemption for his actions involving the Mutant Massacre.

Meanwhile, Kitty makes nice-nice with the three outcasts and they help the X-Men get a hold of a ship. The X-Men take off, go into a stasis-field (which makes them sleep for a bunch of years) and show up at Earth just in time for Magneto’s attack. Unfortunately, the magnetic flare hits the ship and they go back into stasis-field for a few more days.

Professor X wakes up then and is all paranoid because he thought he sensed something or someone else in the ship during their previous sleep. The ship, too large to land at the mansion, makes for Muir Island. Once there, Colossus, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler go to pay some of their old pals a visit while the rest of the gang returns to the mansion. The Excalibur vets soon become embroiled in a problem with the Red Skull showing up and taking control Douglock and then taking control of the SHIELD helicarrier. With the help of Nick Fury, Machine Man (Aaron Stack – don’t call him, X-51, bitches), and the new Deathlok, they are able evacuate the SHIELD agents and free Douglock.



Here’s the deal. The stories aren’t too terrible. The art is rather good. But the big problem? These aren’t really the X-Men. The stories aren’t for the X-Men. They’re written like super-heroes stories for the likes of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, or even the Defenders. They’re a poor fit for the X-Men.

There are some nice highlights, including a very awesome series of sequences involving Galactus. I really find it just awesome when Skrull ships and Professor X doing everything humanly (and Mutantly possible – new word, haha) against Galactus and GALACTUS JUST STANDS THERE! The one panel that strikes me the most is when Galactus stands in the center of Skrull city with lava up to his chest and you know that he’s just loving it. The subsequent destruction of the world itself is rather awesome as well.

Another neat idea is that the Skrulls garner their ideas about the various super-heroes they haven’t interacted with (X-Men, Spider-Man, and others) from the media. It’s quite an interesting idea.

However, there are major issues I have with the handling of characters. Marrow suffers terribly from lack of proper characterization, as she suddenly makes a complete turn of character. Sure, she’s beautiful, but Sarah had deep issues with the concept of beauty and it seems like it’s all brushed to the side. She even says to Rogue upon their return “Yo girlfriend!” WHAT THE -- ?! She’s not Kitty Pryde, Mr. Davis.

The Gambit/Rogue drama suffers too as it starts to get redundant. Last we saw, Gambit was feeling too crappy about himself to want a relationship with Rogue while she’s the one that wants it. It kinda continues, though on less certain terms than during the Kelly/Seagle run.

These stories aren’t terrible. I’m not a huge fan of this era of the X-Men, but like I said, they’re an ill fit. I’ll admit it’s neat to see them deal with non-X-Men villains like the Trion, Skrulls, Galactus, and the Red Skull . . . but it just doesn’t fit well.