Monday, July 30, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 115: "Schisms and New Mutants"

X-Treme X-Men: X-Pose # 1-2, X-Treme X-Men # 20-24, New Mutants (volume 2) # 1-6

Note: My apologies on the lateness of this blog entry. School had to take the priority for the past few weeks, meaning that this all got pushed back. So, without further ado . . .

In the first of three stories, we have the news magazine program "Spotlight" wanting to do a piece of Mutants and the X-Men. Manoli and Conan (from "Fall of the Mutants," remember?) are there to cover it all. However, as they explore Mutant culture and talk with various X-Men members, they find their producer is looking to create the most negative image of the X-Men. Eventually, Archangel's company has the production shut down.

After that, we're served with a rather complex story. Basically, a kid named Jeffery Garret accidently kills his family when they and their guests are threatened by the mind-controlling telepathic Bogan. Except, nobody knows that. While the X-Men grant Garret amnesty and allow him to come to the school, the X-Treme X-Men are trying to bring him to justice. In the end, they discover it's Bogan that did it, but it forms a rift between the two teams.

Then Cannonball - after helping to clean up the Chunnel - joins the X-Treme X-Men team.

I'm going to breeze (heh) through this last one. Dani Moonstar brings a young wind-manipulator named Sofia out of her poor family situation and to the school. While Professor X tries to talk Dani into staying, Sofia becomes friends with Laurie, a phermone controler - and meets with resident jerk, Julian Keller. In due time, Karma and her siblings join, along with a boy named David who pulls information from anyone standing around him. There's also Kevin Ford - who can't touch anything that's not synthetic without it decaying.

Eventually, the whole group ends up facing off against Donald Pierce and the new Reavers (a street gang), and bringing in a new recruit, a healer named Josh. Pierce goes off to fight another day while Kevin leaves.

The X-Treme X-Men stories are the best and are probably among the best that Claremont has written since his return to the X-Men in 2000. He does a great job tackling Mutant culture and putting the X-Men in a place where they've never been. You see, the X-Men have always been Mutants and always stood for Mutant rights, but when was the last time we just saw them interacting with other Mutant groups without fighting them. It's great spotlight and it's about time it's been shined.

The Garret story is overly-complicated, but it's still pretty good. I like seeing the two teams at odds with each other. Adds a nice sense of tension and drama to the overall X-Men dynamic.

The New New Mutants (not a typo) is . . . okay. Simplistic, and the characters are a little bland at first. The art is terrible and just doesn't fit the book. But it's not bad. I've certainly read worse.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 114: "Holy War"

Uncanny X-Men # 417-427

The X-Men investigate a subsidary of Worthington Industries run by Maximus Lobo. Wolveirne, Northstar, Archangel and Husk confront Lobo, and it turns out he's a Mutant Werewolf thingy. As Northstar rushes Logan back to the mansion, Husk and Archangel are hunted by Lobo and his fellow Werewolves. Eventually, they're gravely injured and left in a field . . . however, Archangel's blood heals the both of them. A new theory is presented to them - what if Mutants of the same type begin to battle it out for supremacy?

Lobo eventually runs off when the rest of the X-Men show up. The X-Men return to the mansion, where (in the meantime) one crazy-ass Polaris has assualted Annie because she's banged on Havok's head after Carter kinda got locked in a telepathic hold with him. Professor X shows up, saves the day, and Alex is awake! Yay! And now Husk and Archangel kinda like each other. Yay . . . uh . . . huh? Okay, more on that later.

So, Alex is awake and Lorna immediately proposes. Annie is devastated because she has a crush on Alex, which started when he was in a coma. Nightcrawler (who is experiencing a crisis of faith), Alex, and Lorna head off to the Bermuda Triangle and are attacked by the Church of Humanity (who are subtley wiped out by Polaris). Back at the mansion, Alpha Flight shows up, tussels with the team, and takes away Sammy Pare - much to his buddy's Juggernaut's dismay.

The X-Men then wake up to a bunch of their friends crucified on the front lawn - including Magma, Jubilee, Bedlam, and Skin. In due time, it's revealed that Skin is dead, but everyone else pretty much survived. The X-Men hunt down the Church of Humanity - again. The Church of Humanity's plot is then revealed. There's something about the Pope and Kurt and Revelations and a part of the Christian faith that Catholics don't believe in. Again, more on that later. In the end, it turns out the Supreme Pontiff is a woman who was sexually abused, then punished for it by the Catholic Church. She dies.

Well, after all that, the wedding day comes. There's some zany times at the Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, but when the big day comes, Alex realizes he loves Annie and not Lorna. He dumps Lorna at the alter. Lorna goes UBERCRAZY and chases them all around the estate until Juggernaut jumps in and takes care of things. Annie and Alex then hook, having telepathically dated during his time in the coma thanks to Carter.

Then, there's a poorly research but decently enjoyable story about Skin's funeral and Archangel at a hospital.

I think the best way to tackle this little era is to take a look at the characters who are the most promenient (well, except for Iceman and Northstar) (Northstar's gay, by the way. Did you know that? He's gay. He's gay, just so you know. That means he likes men. Dudes. Not chicks. Men. He likes men because he's gay).

Anyways . . .

Where do we start? Let's go alphabetical.
I like that Alex is back, but the whole "all I remember is that the plane exploded, then I was in darkness" comments bothers me. So Mutant X never happened? Everyone who bought that comic and watched as Alex's character developed was pretty much swindled? Plus, the whole handling of Lorna was just wrong on Alex's part. Alex isn't as emotionally reserved as Scott. He would have put the breaks on the marriage bus before it got out of control and given his history with Lorna, he most certainly shouldn't have broken things off at the alter and then sprinted off to Paris to make out with Annie.

As for Annie . . . well, I'm all for human characters joining the cast, but Annie just doesn't fit. She comes in, shows everyone up, is played up like a saint next to Loony Lorna. I understand that Lonra is nutty, but she watched an entire country get ripped apart right in front of her very eyes and then had the thoughts and memories of all those dead people transmitted through her. Yet, instead of making her sympathetic, Lorna is a super-huge jealous crazy-ass quasi-Magneto bitch. Annie, who had a obsessive crush on a comatose man is portrayed as Mary freaking Poppins whose only major flaw is that she struggles with being around mutants.

Lorna is getting the short end of the stick. Throughout every issue, Lorna is portrayed as either a snotty bitch or a total crazy. It's just not Lorna. It looks like her, they have the same power, but it's not Lorna Dane. Despite what she went through, she's acting more like Malice than Polaris. Heck, if Malice had shown up at some point down the line and said something like "Haha! Ever since the X-Men snagged me from Genosha, I was taken over by Malice! Haha!" then the story would have actually been fifty frillion times better.

I actually very much like what Austen has done with the Juggernaut. He's actually developing quite nicely, moving away from the thug of old and into an enjoyable, relatible character.

I don't completely understand why there was a need to completely destroy Kurt's priesthood. The Church of Humanity didn't really shake his faith at all. Exploding wafers? Gimme a break. All Kurt would do is laugh at that.

I still don't understand this pairing. It just doesn't work. I mean, hey, Paige has a crush on Warren . . . but it doesn't make any sense. She's young, but she's also not mature enough for Warren. Warren has always gone out with women who were mature and strong. Candy Southern was rich and super-confident, Charlotte Jones was a cop, and Betsy was a pyschic British Ninja thing. Paige? She's confident and in a hurry to grow up, but is still so young and lacks the maturity we've seen in Warren's previous suitors. It's just a very confusing pairing.

Maximus Lobo
I really wish we had seen more of these nutty guys. The concept was neat and worth exploring.

Church of Humanity
I . . . I can't even bring myself to comment.

Little things:
I hated the way Stacey-X was just kinda dismissed. Y'know, Casey may have written her to be a prostitute, but he at least gave her class and development. Austen was just kinda like "she's a whore, so let's have her be the dirtiest person EVER!"

Chamber was well-handled, but left far too open.

And please tell me soomeone wrote a fanfic about why Angelo's name was spelled wrong and please tell me it had to do with his faking his own death years ago. Please. Because I'll immediately accept that as canon.

The art wasn't too bad, even though Garney and Tan both kinda fell apart towards the end there. But to be honest, the whole Austen run is like that. It starts off okay, and with every couple of issues, it just goes down and down . . .


Friday, July 06, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 113: "New Worlds"

New X-Men # 128-133

A bit of a comment first. Continunity. Yes, it's a big pain in the butt. However, when you have three writers working within the same universe, and characters are going to bouncing around between them, isn't it a good idea to make sure it all works okay? In this time peroid, Jean and the Professor are on a world tour. Next time we see them, they're back at the mansion. Then, Jean's gone and the Professor is back. It's confusing. It's frustrating. So, I've done my best here and this is where this goes and we can just assume that Jean left to take care of X-Corporation business after the up-coming "Schism" story. And that while she was at the mansion, Emma and Scott stopped their affair until she left again. How's that? Everyone happy? Good, because I'm not.

Down to business . . .

As I said, Professor X and Phoenix are on a little world tour, stopping over and visiting the X-Corporation Europe office, which is home to Darkstar, Cannonball, Richtor, Syrin, Maddrox, and Monet. The X-Corp. team gets pulled into an emergency at the chunnel, while Professor X investigates Jean's re-manifestation of the Phoenix before they're side-swiped by the mysterious Fantomex. Fantomex claims to be a part of the World Plus Program, which had spawned the Weapon X project (Weapon 10) and had now created the loose-in-the-chunnel Weapon XII. The X-Corp. team gets their asses handed to them as everyone who touches Weapon XII because a part of it - including Darkstar. Professor X, Fantomex, and Phoenix arrive on the scene and stop Weapon XII. As everyone cleans up, Fantomex reveals to Jean that he's Weapon XIII.

During Darkstar's funeral, Scott seeks Emma's help with his marriage. Scott just feels like Jean can't accept him for what's he changed into and that they're just grasping at old feelings. Emma takes advantage of this and they begin a telepathic affiar, in which they have sex telepathically.

Also, Beak and Angel have begun a relationship.

Professor X and Phoenix then head off to Genosha, where they meet up with Storm, Thunderbird, Sabra, and Quicksilver. They investigate the possibility of ghosts of being present, meet with Toad who is building a monument to Magneto, and eventually come across Polaris, who has captured the voices of the people of Genosha - including Magneto's. Magneto's message then spills out across space.

The duo then arrives in India to meet with X-Corporation Mumbai, where Thunderbird, Sunfire, Feral, and Thornn are stationed. Wolverine arrived earlier with a Mutant girl named Dust, whose power was to turn into dust and sand. While Jean helps her, Professor X meets up with the leaving Shi'ar, who have cut off all relations with the Earth due to the Phoenix reappearing.

Overall, the typical Morrison fair, though it's nothing to write home about. The Weapon Plus stuff comes up later, so we'll talk about it then. The highlights of this run include Professor X's talk with the Phoenix entity and the great concept found in the X-Corporation.

I'm a little bothered by the Emma/Scott affair. Not because of the affair itself, but because it seems to belittle Scott and Jean's relationship. In the end, it doesn't come as harshly, but at this point, in kinda does.

The art is a mix and match. Kordey's is a major improvement over his last issues. John Paul Leon's is pretty good, though Bill Sienkiewicz's inks just don't work well with it. Phil Jimenez's work is great, with tons of detail applied to the devastated Genosha. Eathan Van Sciver is the show-stealer. His art is the superior in the group, esspecially his renditions of Jean.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 112: "Hope"

Uncanny X-Men # 410-416, X-Men Unlimited # 44

We'll get to Chuck in a bit . . .

I decided to include these issues as it fits together the best. However, it makes for some unfortunate continunity glitches - which are apparent, as continunity just doesn't seem like it was a priority back then. Oh well . . .

The X-Men head across the ocean to a castle in response to an emergency call we discover was placed by the Juggernaut to help his buddy Black Tom, who has gone totally plant. The X-Men break out, Warren turns to white, Black Tom kinda vanishes, and a slowly depowering Juggernaut decides to bum out at the mansion for a while.

In the meantime, Professor X brings in a new student, a fish-boy by the name of Sammy. Scott finds out that Alex is in a hospital and that a nurse named Annie is in love with said comstose Alex. She, Alex, and her son Carter (secretly a Mutant) all head to the mansion.

Eventually, Northstar is invited to join the team as a teacher. He pretty much rejects, but after desperately trying to save the life of a blowing up Mutant teen, he agrees and joins the X-Men - again, kinda. Iceman, as it turns out, is slowly turning into ice. Stacy hates Husk, M popped by, and the X-Men fought some teens that torture animals.

Out of the gate, it's not too bad. On the art-side, Garney is doing an admirable job. Phillips is the better of the pair, this time around, as he really captures the darkness and angst in the comic. There's a recurring theme about child abuse that is just a little too heavy-handed for my tastes and really, when read like this, it's just way too much. Esspecially combined with the animal abuse story.

Austen's point? Don't abuse children or animals.

I'm not sold on Annie. Northstar is handled fairly well. Stacy isn't; I really think that Austen just doesn't know what to do with her. Blame that on Casey, though.

So, we're off! It all goes down-hill from here . . .


Uncanny X-Periment # 111: "The Hunt for Sabretooth"

Wolveriner # 173-176, Weapon X # 1-5

Sabretooth is on the loose and has decided - on Mariko's death anniversary - that he's going to tear down Logan's world. Recruiting Omega Red and Lady Deathstrike, they go after Nightcrawler, the Hudsons, Yuiko, and Amiko. Logan - his powers removed by Leech - eventually confronts the trio in Vegas. There, he squares off with all three - until Sabretooth, the captured Amiko, and himself are all teleported to the old Weapon X facility.

There, Logan and Sabretooth have a beat down. Thanks to Weapon X, Sabretooth's powers are removed, but he manages to teleport out of there quickly enough to evade capture. Wolverine kinda dies, meets up with Colossus and denies himself the answers he's sought (he had early learned that his own healing factor was hiding his memories from him). Logan returns to the mansion and is reunited with Amiko.

Afterwards, Weapon X hunts down Sabretooth, who has set himself up as an information broker. He goes after various Mutants, eventually leading to a confrontation with Aruroa and Wild Child. He tears Aruroa apart, tramuatizing Wild Child in the process. Eventually, as deals are being brokered within the program itself, the mysterious Agent Zero takes Creed down and brings him back in. Sabretooth is then reintegrated into the program.

Meanwhile, Weapon X has constructed what is basically a Mutant Concentration Camp called "Neverland." A family of Mutants is brought there and offered to join the Weapon X program. They refuse. The Mutants are then given either a red M or a green M. Ex-X-Man Maggot is there (with Reyes) and he gets a red M. He gives one of his slugs - Eeny or Meany - the children of the family and then is executed. The kids are then smuggled out by a Doctor named Widsor.

Not bad. Overall, the art is decent. The story is actually pretty good, but the dialogue is not so much. There are a lot of cliches catchphrases that have caused these books to not age well. The issues of the "Weapon X" are the superior ones here, as I like seeing the depths of these villians. At this point, having villians as the main characters is nothing new, but it's nice to see it done in the X-Universe.

They're like the anti-X-Men!

I also have the compliment Tieri on the use of "old" X-characters. Kane, Marrow, Maggot, Reyes, Mesmero, and Wild Child all would have been in limbo if not for Tieri coming in and using them in new and interesting ways.

Though I would have liked to have seen some Marrow/Reyes/Maggot interaction . . .

And Maggot's dead. Put that one on the "Dead X-Men List." I wish that the X-Men actually knew he was dead, but I'm sure they found out somehow . . . from Chamber or something . . .

It might be a while before we see "Weapon X" pop up in the X-Periment, simply because of the continunity was during this particular peroid of time. But no worries, true believer . . . they'll be back.

Just like Maggot will be.