Monday, March 26, 2007

UXP # 97: "Changing of the X-Guard # 2: Dream's End"

Uncanny X-Men # 388, Cable # 87, Bishop # 16, X-Men # 108, Generation X # 73, Uncanny X-Men # 389, X-Men # 109, Uncanny X-Men # 390, X-Men # 110

Mystique is up to no good. She’s manipulated a strand of the Legacy Virus and is ready to strike out at Presidential candidate Senator Kelly. Thus, the X-Men split into two teams. Cable, Gambit, Beast, and Colossus go off to handle the protection of Senator Kelly. Rogue, Bishop, and Wolverine head to Muir Island to find out why Moira can’t be reached. The rest of the team just, I don’t know, hangs out at home.

The Brotherhood – consisting of Avalanche, Blob, Post, and Lady Mastermind – attack Senator Kelly. Cable’s team intervenes, but even as they’re close to achieving victory, Cable figures out that it was all an illusion. Post stands ready to kill Kelly. Luckily, a dying Pyro steps out of the shadows and lights Post up. Post is killed, but Pyro is slowly dying. Senator Kelly, moved by Pyro’s sacrifice, decides to change some of his opinions about Mutants.

Meanwhile, Rogue carries Bishop and Wolverine to Muir Island. Once there, they find Wolfsbane being hunted down by Sabretooth. Bishop dispatches Sabretooth while Rogue handles Mystique. Wolfsbane runs across Rogue and gets shot by Mystique, who acquired a second anti-Mutant gun (Forge used it on Storm years ago, remember?). Mystique stabs Rogue. Bishop and Wolverine rescue Moira, who has just about unlocked the key to the Legacy Virus cure. Rogue then stabs Mystique.

Unfortunately, Moira is dying. The ride home is chaotic and during it, Professor X manages to mind-link with Moira, desperate to keep her alive and retrieve whatever information she has in regards to the cure. She gets the information along, but dies in the end. Sad.

Back with Senator Kelly, the candidate makes his “I love Mutants” feelings known, but is gunned down by a random American.

Sean Cassidy receives the news of Moira’s death . . . and then, while hanging out with Skin, gets captured by terrorists or something. Skin rescues him and Banshee is sad.

In the aftermath of all this, the X-Men continue to reel from all these terrible events. Reyes struggles with her rehab, Professor X reflects on his relationship with Moira in the past, and Storm, Rogue, Wolverine, and Gambit stumble across more evidence of trouble regarding Destiny’s diaries. Archangel and Psylocke break it off, Archangel claiming that he wants more to their relationship than what they’ve got.

Holding onto as much as hope as they can when Christmas comes, Storm, Bishop, Psylocke, Thunderbird, Rogue, and Tessa (aka Sage, aka former Hellfire Club associate) all decide to find the other long-lost diaries of Destiny. But, Beast sticks around.

And cures the Legacy Virus.

Finally. Woohoo!

Oh wait! It requires a sacrifice to do so. As when it was released by the use of someone’s power, as it must be cured. Colossus steps up, having lost his sister to the virus. He takes the cure and it is immediately sent into the atmosphere. Kitty Pryde then returns to scatter his ashes over his farm, then tells Professor X she wants her own life now.

And that is that.

This is definitely a “tying up loose threads” story. Though it’s not the best. In fact, despite the victory over the Legacy Virus – which is well done – this is probably the most depressing X-Men story ever. Just like with “Apocalypse: The Twelve,” there’s an unintentional theme here and that’s sacrifice. Every victory comes at the cost of something else – usually a life.

To save Senator Kelly, Pyro sacrificed his life. The Legacy Virus was cured at the cost of Moira and Colossus’ lives. Senator Kelly changed his views about Mutants, but it killed him in the end. Mystique was stopped, but it destroyed her relationship with Rogue to do so. See what I mean? And after a point, it just gets redundant. Each death and sacrifice loses just a bit of its impact as one after another hits us.

While the Legacy Virus was well handled, the rest of the story barely holds together. Why were only some of the X-Men dispatched to Senator Kelly and Muir Island? The X-Men left behind Phoenix, Iceman, Psylocke, Archangel, Storm, and Thunderbird. These are all heavy hitters. Why leave them behind? This is a big deal! Moira dying? Senator Kelly targeted by the Brotherhood? Come on!

Plus, why in the hell did Rogue carry Wolverine and Bishop to Muir Island? It didn’t make any sense. They have Blackbirds that can go super-fast. But nope. Let’s have Rogue carry these two X-Men into the upper atmosphere, then bring down to fight two very powerful foes. Geez. Also, the Claremont issues suffer from long-winded and unrealistic dialogue.

Now, there are some good points here. I liked the way the Warren/Betsy relationship ended. It was quite realistic and well handled. Kitty’s story is actually nicely written, as is Beast’s reaction to curing the Legacy Virus. After all these years, it’s great to see that.

Artwise, there’s not really anything good here except for the work of Salvador Larroca. Yu’s art is particularly bad, while everything else is either mundane or barely spectacular.

Marvel did the right thing bringing Lobdell back to wrap up his danglers. The Legacy Virus was his doing, so it just makes sense to have him come back and handle it.

Claremont just didn’t seem to have it under control on this tenure on “X-Men.” Plus, we see the beginnings of setting up his own storyline that takes his best characters out of the X-Men – a storyline that is far better than anything he produced on this run of “X-Men.”

Honestly? The best part of “Dream’s End” is the very end. Magneto comes back, wipes out the Neo, and demands that Domina follow him. The rest, while highlighted with some nice moments, is too depressing an affair to enjoy.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

UXP # 96: "Changing of the X-Guard # 1: X-Men Forever"

A few months ago, I mentioned how every time there’s a big (uber-big) shift in the creative end of the X-Men’s world, we see things get wrapped up. Not just little things, but big subplots. It happens once back in 1990-1991, with the “Cleaning Out the X-House,” with signaled the end of the Claremont era and the coming of all those after him: Nicieza, Lobdell, Waid, Kelly, Seagle, Davis, Claremont (again), and Lobdell (again). It was in that “Cleaning Out the X-House” we saw most of Claremont/Simonson’s plots and subplots come together and allow for a new era of the X-Men to begin. Well, that era came and went. Now, we prep for a new era by having all the old 90s subplots wrapped up. Therefore, behold the “Changing of the X-Guard!”


X-Men Forever # 1-6

A lot happens here and it’s very confusing. Thus, I will just summarize it briefly.

The gist of this story is that Prosh returns from his journeys out in space. Upon his return, he grabs Juggernaut, Toad, Mystique, Iceman, and Phoenix and sends them through time to unlock a mystery. Their journey and destination are all based on the characters themselves.

Phoenix hits key points involving her time with the Phoenix, because it was the first time a Mutant had come into contact with an upper force in the universe. Iceman was sent because he hadn’t achieved the full potential of Mutant powers. Juggernaut was sent because he was jealous of Mutants and their powers, but when he had gained powers his own, he squandered them. Mystique went back saw glimpses of a behind-the-scenes conspiracy and saw the rest that humans and Mutants offered to each other. Toad was sent because he too had yet been able to achieve his ultimate Mutant potential, as well as being in contact with both the conspiracy Mystique had seen and the true power behind the throne.

It turns out that someday Mutants will replace the upper powers of the universe (Chaos, Order, Living Tribunal, etc. – all those really powerful guys that got their asses handed to them by Thanos during the “Infinity Gauntlet”).

This team explored the power and potential of Mutantkind . . . and then, after returning, learned that they were sent on that mission by Prosh in the hopes of stopping themselves from getting to that level. Why? Because the Stranger had taken control of Prosh in the hopes of using Mutantkind to achieve the upper power levels.

Eventually, they are able to defeat the Stranger by freeing Prosh. Prosh then captured the Stranger and they go out of time/space together in exile. This leave Mutantkind with the choice of determining what direction they need to take.

There’s a lot to love here, but a lot to dislike too. So let’s talk about the love, huh?

This really wraps up some plot threads from the 90s, including who really killed Graydon Creed (Mystique did, using timed delayed weapons); how Astra left Magneto; Jean’s relationship with the Phoenix (to an extent); the connection between Marko and Ryking; and how Legion learned what he had to to head back in time. This is all revealed, on top of some very great character development, especially on the parts of Juggernaut, Toad, and Iceman, who find that they just haven’t lived up to their full potential.

The art by Kevin Maguire is fantastic. I love it. He captured the action, the emotion, and the broad ideas of this story so very well.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot left unsaid. The conspiracy is really cool . . . but we barely even see it. And that’s all we get of it. We’re left back at square one with that plot point. The story is a bit overly-complicated. We’re left with an impression that these guys should be able to figure it all out . . . but they don’t. Leaving us readers scratching our heads until it’s spelled out – using big words. This is my third reading of this mini-series and I’m just now understanding what Nicieza.

In that way, it’s probably the best and worst aspects of Nicieza’s writing. We get a great story with good character development and big ideas . . . that proves to be too complicated and leaves too much dangling. The good thing is that this is one of the best of his X-Men stories.

There’s a real big feel of the mini-series and I love that we see it stretched from end-to-end of the X-Men’s history. It’s too bad it pretty much gets ignored, though.


Uncanny X-Periment # 95: "War and Peace"

Black Panther # 26-29, Magneto: Dark Seduction # 1-4

Storm has been summoned to Wakanda by the Black Panther’s State Department liaison Everett K. Ross. Her main reason for being there is to shake T’Challa out of whatever funk he has gotten himself into – crashing the Wakandian stock market, etc. As she pays a visit in the aftermath of “Maximum Security,” she and T’Challa come across a bizarre-looking female that everyone assumes is an alien leftover from the occupation. However, when they discover that the female has a very human (though telepathic) toddler, it’s determined that the child is actually from the underwater civilization Deviant Lemuria.

(I’m not going to go into detail about Lemuria, save that they are located on the southern end of the same underwater continent that Atlantis is on and that every Lemurian born looks different. The toddler, since she looks human, would face execution upon returning to Lemuria)

Knowing that the child would be killed if Lemuria took it, T’Challa defies Lemuria’s leader, Lord Ghaur. Ghaur threatens war. Meanwhile, T’Challa’s rival and foster brother the White Wolf brings back the villain known as Klaw. A US aircraft carrier, moving into the area, is then destroyed by Klaw. White Wolf manages to make it look like Wakanda attacked it.

Storm takes her leave of Black Panther, but not before warning him that he is heading down a bad path. The two kiss and he finds comfort with her. She then departs.

Black Panther then has a secret meeting with various other world powers – including Magneto, Namor, Dr. Doom, Lord Kro (from Lemuria), and Ross. Black Panther suspects that Ghaur’s interest and willingness to go to war over the child is a mask for something different. He sends Ross to Ghaur and Ross deduces that the child is really Ghaur and Ghaur is afraid losing face if the child were to live and/or be tested. Shortly after, though, Klaw shows up, knocks Ghaur out and mimics his voice to launch an attack on Wakanda.

Over the sunken city Lemuria, war breaks out between Wakanda, Atlantis and Lemuria. Namor and T’Challa try to figure out a resolution as Lemurian forces approach Wakanda. An air raid follows. Ross saves Ghaur, forcing him into a workable situation. Eventually, Namor takes the child and its mother to Atlantis. To the public, it’s said that the child and mother were killed during the attack on Wakanda. Doom then provides evidence that Wakanda did not attack the aircraft carrier. Oh, and Black Panther battles it out with Klaw and defeats him.

So, then, on Genosha, Magneto’s got trouble. There’s a war still going on between his forces and those of the town of Corrion Cove. As Scarlet Witch arrives as an UN observer, people switch sides, Quicksilver arrives Corrion Cove and discovers that some decades-old technology laid there that was used in the Mutate Bonding Process (probably from the Sugar Man, but it’s not outright said).

The situation is getting out of control as Magneto’s forces close in on Corrion Cove and the Avengers show up. Magneto and Polaris take on the Avengers (Polaris having been helping Magneto out of a jam with his powers) and eventually, Magneto uses Polaris’ powers to bring down and entire mountainside of homes. He then heads off to the hidden lab, knocks out Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (ending any chance of reconciliation) and after a brief battle with Polaris, uses the machines to gets his powers back up and running. The battle at Corrion Cove ends; he kills Fabian Cortez (YAY!); and kicks the Avengers off the island along with Quicksilver and Polaris. Oh, and the entire time, he’s having a conversation with someone via telepathy. Who? I don’t know.

Okay, so “Black Panther” is the superior story, although it’s not best to compare these two. There’s a quote from “Entertainment Weekly” that describes “Black Panther” as a “swashbuckling political thriller.” That sounds about right. The story is grand. It’s complex, but not overly so. Priest does a fantastic job of bringing some serious realism to the politics of the Marvel Universe. We get a great appearance by Storm, who is written very nicely by Priest. The story as a whole is just superb and it’s a real shame that this book was cancelled (though I do have the rest of run).

“Magneto: Dark Seduction” isn’t as good, but it’s enjoyable all the same. Nicieza returns for this story and it’s one of his better X-Men works. It’s a nice layered adventure, giving depth to Magneto and his peeps. It furthers the Quicksilver/Magneto/Scarlet Witch relationship. There are certain scenes where there’s a subtle feel that Magneto wants his kids to love him. Sorry pops. Roger Cruz’s line-work isn’t too bad, but the awful inking and coloring job just ruin it.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 94: "Maximum Security"

Maximum Security: Dangerous Planet one-shot, Maximum Security # 1, Iron Man # 35, Thor # 30, Uncanny X-Men # 387, Black Panther # 25, Captain America # 36, Bishop # 15, Maximum # 2, Gambit # 23, X-Men # 107, X-Men Unlimited # 29, Avengers # 35, Maximum Security # 3

(Note: Despite my knowing there are other tie-ins, not all of them tie into the central story – or really at all. Hence, I’m just using the main books from the crossover.)

The story starts during a meeting with the Intergalactic Council. Concerns have been raised about humans in light of Professor X leading Cadre K to breeding facilities to save K-Class Mutant Skrulls. While this is happening, though, Ego the Living Planet returns and causes all sorts of trouble. The Silver Surfer and Cadre K eventually take Ego down, much to the humiliation of the Council. It is then decided that humanity must be dealt with. Newcomers the Ruul have an idea: transport all alien convicts there and quarantine the solar system.

As USAgent and other heroes encounter more and more aliens, he takes command of the Avengers. The Avengers confront Ronan, who is aboard a ship in orbit of the Earth. Ronan punts the super-heroes back to the ground and they soon discover that Ego is slowly manifesting itself on Earth. Iron Man and the Fantastic Four investigate and being to understand that a host will be needed to contain Ego. The Silver Surfer volunteers.

In the meantime, Earth is amok with aliens. Cap stops one from accidentally blowing up the Statue of Liberty in an effort to leave. Beta-Ray Bill comes back. The last surviving D’Bari seeks revenge on Jean. The Black Panther and his liaison Everett K. Ross stumble upon a temple which serves as portal to another planet, but is destroyed by aliens on the other side to stop the convicts from fleeing.

In space, Lilandria tells Professor X that he needs to get to Deathbird, as she has the key to freeing Earth. As Professor X and Cadre K search for her, they encounter the returned Bishop. During a heated confrontation, Bishop gains a keycard from her. She then goes flying out into space. Bishop then volunteers to be shipped back to Earth ala a space convict. In the meantime, the Cadre K telepath Z’Cann lands on Earth and makes contact with the X-Men. She bonds with Rogue and Rogue finds out the plan.

Ego continues to grow out of control, absorbing people and landmass. While the Commission of Superhuman Activities recruits aliens to help resist, USAgent discovers that the Ruul are really the Kree and are taking orders from the Supreme Intelligence.

Gambit then retrieves some information on how to stop Ego. As he does, the X-Men head to Ellis Island and retrieve Bishop, then meet with Goliath (Hank Pym) and Warbird (Carol Danvers). They once more break into Ronan’s ship and gain access to various controls and get some information. Then, they head back to Earth.

In space, an Avengers team that had been out in the cosmos before the shit hit the fan goes to meet with the Intergalactic Council. They are shortly captured by the Ruul, who are really an evolved form of Kree, thanks to the Nega-Bomb and the Forever Crystal. They also learn that the Supreme Intelligence is planning on taking control of the Ego/Earth using towers set up and absorbed on Earth in conjunction with the satellites keeping Earth quarantined.

Using codes retrieved using Deathbird keycard on board Ronan’s ship, the X-Men and the Avengers led a team of heroes and aliens onto one of the satellites and release the system from the quarantine. They also teleport Cadre K and Professor X there as well.

On the surface, using information provided by Gambit, the team there get Silver Surfer to absorb some of Ego. Unfortunately, it’s not enough. Ronan then arrives, using some of Ego’s power. A battle royale follows, but when Quasar absorbs the rest of Ego and is forced into exile, the good guys win . . . even though the Kree Empire is back up and running again.

In terms of other Marvel events and/or line-wide crossovers, “Maximum Security” is probably comparable to “Secret Wars.” It lacks the grim feel of “Infinity Gauntlet” and “Onslaught.” It also pulls away from the deepness that exists in “House of M” and “Civil War.” When I started to read “Maximum Security,” I knew I was getting into story that was big, old school action/adventure epic.

Kurt Busiek is the writer of the main book and “Avengers.” Other writers contributing the central story would be Dan Jurgens, Joe Quesada, Joe Harris, Fabian Nicieza, Joe Pruett, and Chris Claremont. A note on Claremont, because I’ve been so mean to him lately – these are the issues where we see signs of improvement. Again, not with the “X-Men” team, but with the “Uncanny” team. Centering on Jean was a great idea and he really does a fine job with it.

As far as Kurt Busiek goes, I can’t applaud him enough. This was the writer that got me into “Avengers” in the first place. He sweeps across various worlds, focuses on scores of characters . . . it’s a wonder how he’s able to keep all this going on while keep the story grounded with the characters.

Speaking of characters, hats off for making the main characters of the story those that we just don’t expect. USAgent, Professor X, Lilandria, Quasar, Tigra, Bishop, Photon, Moondragon, Jack O’Hearts, Cersie all serve as the main characters. Sure, Thor, Iron Man, Black Panther, and the Fantastic Four are all there in the spotlight, but the characters I listed above are the stars of the show.

The art varies from issue to issue, but in terms of “Maximum Security” itself, I find it a little lacking. Jerry Ordway is a great artist, of course, but at times, the art comes off as weak. This might be attributed to the inkers, though.

One of my wishes was that this story would be a little longer, spending more time with the aftermath. But for what we got it, it was good. Overall, a great, fun story. The effects are lasting, as it kinda undid what was done with “Operation: Galactic Storm.”


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 93: "Slavers"

Uncanny X-Men # 383, X-Men # 103, Uncanny X-Men # 384, X-Men # 104, Uncanny X-Men # 385, X-Men # 105, Uncanny X-Men # 386, X-Men # 106

I’ve read a lot of comics in my life. Not counting the comics my Dad used to be me when I was just a wee one, I’ve been reading hard-core for just over 15 years now. Mostly X-Men, mind you, but I’ve expanded my interests to include various other Marvel and DC offerings, as well as Image and independent comics.

That being said . . . I can honestly say that this is perhaps some of the worst comics I’ve ever read.

Now let me say a few things before hand. First of all, Chris Claremont is the writer of these here books. I daresay that Claremont is among – if not the – best X-Men writer. Think of all the most renowned X-Men stories and he wrote most of them. Let me further say and that the artists involved – Adam Kubert, Tom Raney, Michael Ryan, and Leinel Yu – all fine artists. I’ve seen some great work from them.

With all that also said . . . this is just bad.

I’ll give you the gist of what happens in these stories because even I have trouble figuring it all out.

Basically, Gambit gets the X-Men involved in a conflict with a Neo name Ransome, who is looking to sell the X-Men to either other Neo or this alternate reality guy named Vooge. The X-Men win the day, but back in Westchester, the rest of the team (having just decided Rogue is their new leader) gets into with some guys called the Goth. The Goth take Thunderbird, Colossus, Psylocke, Archangel and all of Salem Center captive to be sold as slaves to Vooge.

Meanwhile, Vooge is rescued by the Crimson Pirates and they take Cable and Gambit. As the rest of the team comes together and try and track down Vooge, Gambit manages a deal with Vooge. He arranges to capture the X-Men. Cliched X-Men vs. X-Men fight follows. In the end, they defeat the Vooge and Rogue now trusts Gambit again.

Shortly thereafter, Archangel gets attacked by some women called the Twisted Sisters (yeah, not the band). Psylocke and the X-Men save Archangel. Then, some of the X-Men help save Lee Forrester from a hurricane. Then, the X-Men fight the Neo again and finally get around the rescuing Cecelia Reyes and Charlotte Jones.

What is so bad about this?

Well first of all, the entire Goth/Slaver/Crimson Pirate story is full of cliches and quasi-bondage allusions. The story meanders from plot point to plot point, depending mainly on this character doing this and this character doing that. Save for some nice time with Storm and a step forward with Gambit/Rogue, there’s zero character development. Plus, Vooge? Really? Why have this guy? I mean, if we’re going to have an fat interdeminsional slave driver, why not go to one we know and trust – Mojo? I’m not the biggest Mojoverse/X-Men fan, but at least we can depend on Mojo for some cheap laughs.

Then, after dealing with this stupid-ass story, they hang around New Orleans and NYC until the X-Men finally realize “Oh yeah! We gotta go rescue that single mother and the former semi-X-Man that got trapped in that building with all those killers and hunters because they kinda got in our way!” Which isn’t just that strong of a story anyway.

There some small good nuggets here, but even these bother me. There’s a subplot about Senator Kelly running for President. Just like with Creed, there’s no mention of any other sort of politics as Kelly has apparently gone back from “Mutants should be monitored, but not controlled” to “Mutants are evil!”

What I did notice were some interesting lines here in there. For some reason, knowing what is coming in the up-coming Morrison run, when Jean says “This is not my day to die” in Phoenix-font while manifesting said Phoenix raptor, I can’t help get a sense foreshadowing. There’s also a few lines of dialogue about super-heroes that has an interesting spin in light of “Civil War.”

However . . .

Thus far (even though there’s worse to come), this is the worst the X-Men has ever been.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 92: "Shockwave"

Generation X # 67-70, X-Man # 67-70, X-Force # 106-109, Cable # 85-86

We finally get to some issues that are better than others. You can kinda consider this “Revolution” version of the entry entitled “The Kids” [link] “Revolution” brought some serious changes to “X-Man,” “X-Force,” and “Generation X.” “Shockwave” takes a look back 6 months to see what kicked off these changes.

At the Massachusetts Academy, life continues on for the Generation X gang. Everett and Monet are all caught up in a teenage love life, even though Jubilee is so totally crushing on Ev. This all goes to hell, though, as tensions among the students continue to get worse. It turns out that Emma’s sister Adrienne is looking to kill the students. She does this by increasing the tensions amongst the students and their parents. Eventually, things get so bad that all of the parents show up to pick up their kids . . . and bombs are placed in the school. Ev – after saving some bullies – attempts to disarm the bomb while synching M’s powers. By the synch isn’t strong enough and he dies. Sean and Emma then turn the school back into the original training program that it was supposed to be – after Emma shoots Adrienne, of course.

Meanwhile, Nate Grey discovers that Maddie has been replaced by a Maddie from Earth-998. She takes Nate to her world to make him destroy Asia. He refuses and runs into his counter-part, who has become a shaman. He instills knowledge as to how to heal people into Nate’s mind and deactivates the part of Nate that was supposed to blow him up. After doing away from Maddie (who is really Jean Grey from this Earth) and her agent Mr. Scratch, Nate comes back home and becomes a shaman to Mutantkind.

Pete Wisdom, who wanted to run the team so they would handle the spy and black ops stuff, took in X-Force. He also helped them expand the use of his powers. Presently, Pete’s “dead,” and Domino is being hunted by a Mutant with the gene for murder. X-Force takes him down.

Over in Cable (which takes place modern day, although after all the stuff that’s coming into the next entry), Cable heads off to the far, far future after getting some distress calls from Rachel. Turns out that now that Apocalypse is dead, Rachel didn’t end up his future. A guy named Gaunt captured her, but Cable defeated him and has brought her back. Now Rachel is seeking her own life.

Each book tends to have it’s own and varies in quality. I find myself enjoying “X-Man” and “Generation X” the best as we really see some nice creativity injected into them. “X-Force” feels like a cooler version of what we were getting. “Cable” was pretty bad, though I’m glad Rachel is back. All of these stories were co-written by Warren Ellis, so it works out, I guess.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 91: "Revolution"

X-Men # 100-102, Uncanny X-Men # 381-382

Six months later and the X-Men are in a different state than we last saw them. The team (as we start out here) only consists of Shadowcat, Wolverine, Colossus, Psylocke, Rogue, Archangel (reserve member, basically), and newcomer pyrokenetic Neal Shaara, Thunderbird. In addition to this, changes have occurred. Something happened in Genosha. Psylocke and Jean did some stuff and now Psylocke has lost her telepathy, but has telekinesis while Jean has lost her own telekinesis (by the way, how did Jean even get telepathy back after the Psi-War?). Gambit has taken control of the Thieves Guild, which has pushed Rogue even further from him.

So, the X-Men are attacked by the Neo. The Neo claim to be a higher group of Mutants, basically the step above regular good ol’ fashioned Muties. Led by a woman named Domina after her daughter and their entire civilization was ravaged by the High Evolutionary’s weapon, the Neo hunt down the X-Men for revenge. The hit the now student-priest Nightcrawler, who takes refuge with Cecelia Reyes. Reyes takes him further into Brooklyn, where they conveniently run into Charlotte Jones, who is fighting a drug pusher named Delgado; his drug is called Rave and makes powers even stronger. Even more conveniently, they run into Archangel. Eventually, they all end up facing the Neo at Nightcrawler’s church.

Meanwhile, the X-Men proper are on board the High Evolutionary’s station, fixing it up. Kitty’s boyfriend Seth turns out to be a Neo agent and blows the place up. The X-Men manage to escape, leaving Kitty on board. She eventually uses a Neo armor thingy and makes her own way down to Earth.

Once on Earth, the X-Men track down the Neo to the church and the battle becomes joined. Wolverine eventually leaps in. The Neo then proceed to seal up the church and the X-Men depart, leaving behind Cecelia and Charlotte Jones.

At the same time, over in Venice, Phoenix and Cable are asked to join Gambit, Storm, and Beast in at the cajun’s request. Once there, they are attacked by Neo agents called the Shockwave Riders. While they are able to defeat the Shockwave Riders, they encounter some “Lost Souls” when Jean almost dies. The Neo then retreat and Gambit proposes a very important heist to his little group of X-Men.



Deep breath.


In, out, in out, in out, in, out . . .

. . .


I’m sorry! I love Chris Claremont! But come on! COME ON! Where do I start? The costumes look horrible. The story is terrible with convenient plot points everywhere and crappy characterization! The X-Men leave their own behind?! TWICE?!?!? That’s not right! Not right at all!

Absolutely terrible. Every female has PMS, every male is a cliché. Yu’s art is awful.

Okay. Okay.

Let’s see . . . positives . . .

Well, really, Gambit’s team is a little better. The characters are a little more in their roles, with the exception of a suddenly very overly-militarized Cable. The banter between them is a little more natural as opposed to the forced stuff between Rogue’s team. I’ll even credit that the Neo are a fairly neat idea.

But everything was terrible in execution.

And the bad thing? I know it gets absolutely worse.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 90: "Mutants No More"

Uncanny X-Men # 379, Cable # 78, Wolverine # 149, X-Force # 101, X-Men # 99, Uncanny X-Men # 380

The X-Men are still reeling from the events of the Twelve. Professor X, distraut, takes the Mutants Skrulls (who will henceforth be known as Cadre K, as they are later called due to their being K-Class Skrulls) back into space in the hopes of finding a safe haven for them. Cable meets back up with his gang in Hell’s Kitchen and not only breaks up with his waitress girlfriend Stacey Kramer, but also mind-wipes any interaction he had with her. Meanwhile, the rest of the team attempts to unwind.

Unfortunately, the High Evolutionary has other plans. Deeming too dangerous to have powers, he and former professor, Dr. Essex, uses sophisticated orbital satellites that suppress the manifestation of the Mutant gene, rendering all Mutants into humans. Genosha goes to hell in a handbag, Mystique gets locked while sneaking into the NSA, the Brotherhood disbands, and the X-Men kinda just crumble.

As Cable goes into a Techno-Organic cocoon, Meltdown of X-Force helps a preteen deal with the loss of his powers. Wolverine, dying of Adamantium poisoning, gets help from the New Warriors when he tackles some robots for some reason or another.

Eventually, Iceman and Beast (who were stranded on Genosha) discover that the Mutates are mutating as a result of the suppression. With the de-powered Magneto’s help, they get back the States and pull the X-Men together. They launch an attack on High Evolutionary’s space station just as Essex reveals that he’s really Mr. Sinister and takes High Evolutionary out. The X-Men duke it out with the Ani-Men and eventually (almost killing him), Wolverine takes out the controls. Mr. Sinister runs off and the High Evolutionary restores everyone’s powers. Genosha returns to Magneto’s control, Cable is healed, yadayadayada.

This is Alan Davis’ final X-Men story, and it’s too bad, because it’s pretty bad. When I first read this years ago, I found it to be rather entertaining and I liked it. But now, in the context of all these other stories, I find “Mutants No More” to be a disappointment on so many levels.

First of all, the continuity is dodgy. Mr. Sinister taught college and the High Evolutionary was a student? Shadowcat is 16 (IMPOSSIBLE!)? Wolverine, despite everyone else losing their physical Mutations, still has his claws? Not to mention the Mutant population numbers are way off of what we know/learn. This story was poorly researched – and there wasn’t even a whole lot that needed to be done.

Second, if Sinister was behind this the whole time, why didn’t he just talk the High Evolutionary into using these weapons earlier? Sinister is an enemy of Apocalypse. If he were to, say, use these satellites to suppress Mutant genes and powers right before the 12, then the Celestial device wouldn’t have been able to absorb any of the Mutant energies. Plus, Apocalypse would be pretty much ripe for the picking at that point.

Finally, the characterization is way off. Wolverine’s role with the New Warriors is just silly (even though I found it ironic and I’ll touch on that further down the line). Professor X leaves the X-Men – again. There was the first time for his secret mission against Lucifer, then again when he faked his death, then to “mourn” the X-Men with Lilandria, then to head off with the Shi’ar after the trial of Magneto, and (most recently), as redemption for Onslaught. This guy must just hate the X-Men, I guess. Besides this, though?

Well, there’s the mentor/protégé camp the Storm takes Marrow too, where Marrow eventually gets a BF. Totally! Plus, the X-Men in general end up waiting around a week before getting their asses in gear to take the fight to the High Evolutionary.

I’ll grant that both Nightcrawler and Rogue get some good character developments, but that’s it. The subplot on Genosha is worth taking a look at it. The concept itself is neat, though better explored in the recent “Decimation” event. But I’ll grant that the High Evolutionary’s plan was kinda cool too.

In the end, this is a disappointing end to Davis’ short X-Men run. He injected some new energy into the stories with the X-Men taking on non-X-Men villains, such as Red Skull, Skrulls, Galactus, the Trion, and the High Evolutionary – as well as the upper echelon of the X-Men’s enemies, being Magneto, Apocalypse, Juggernaut, and Mr. Sinister. The run had its ups and downs, but at least I can genuinely say this was a very unique run of the X-Men.