Friday, August 31, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 124: "The New Age"

X-Men Unlimited # 11, Uncanny X-Men # 444-459

A gaggle of books. We'll break down by arcs.

X-Men Unlimited # 11
Alex and Rachel have dinner together, where they try and figure out Emma and Scott's relationship.

The End of History
The X-Men (this team comprised of Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Bishop, Sage, Cannonbal, and Marvel Girl) launch the XSE initiative. Wolverine and Nightcrawler have trouble in Washington while some of the others fight off a group called the Weaponeers of Al-Khalad. Meanwhile, Marvel Girl, Cannonball, and Bishop end up fighting a creature from the Captain Britain comics called the Fury. The rest of the team joins in and they are eventually able to destroy the creature.

Guess Who's Back in Town
After their last little adventure, the X-Men reunite with Captain Britian and Meggan. After this, they all go off to meet with the Queen of England (because Logan, Kitty, and Rachel saved her in the past or something). Turns out, though, the Viper has kidnapped the Queen and is threatening to blow up London. However, she comes across Courtney Ross, who is interested in rising into a high level position with the Hellfire Club. She and Viper join forces and England is spared.

Back in New York, the X-Men encounter a female, teenaged Wolverine named simply X-23. She's a hothead like Logan and is brought in from District X to the X-Men.

Chasing Hellfire
The X-Men investigate the recent return of Sage to the Hellfire Club and bring Emma Frost along for the ride. While Rachel and Emma face off in a high-stakes game with Ross and Viper (with Selene tagging along - and ultimately defeated Rachel), the rest of the X-Men get caught up with Sebastian Shaw and the newly-reinstated Hellfire Club leader Sunspot. Pierce joins in and attacks, wounding Shaw. Sage - who defected to the Hellfire Club to help manuever Sunspot into a better position to change the group - remains to guide Sunspot's now commanding hand.

World's End
Psylocke, out of nowhere, reappears alive in Spain. The X-Men respond, trying to unravel the mystery, but are called down the Savage Land by Wolverine and X-23. Once there, the gang is drawn into a class conflict that brings in the Mutates and the Ka-Zar. You know. The usual Savage Land stuff.

First off, great art all the way around. Alan Davis, Coipel, and Park all do a great job of projecting some incredible scenes. Well done.

However . . .

The stories aren't that great. There are moments. Whenever Claremont focuses on the Mutant/human conflict, he does a solid job. We luckily get plenty of these - even inside the Institute.

The Hellfire Club stories feel like they're just set-ups for set-ups. There's not a whole lot to them. It feels like classic Claremont with the building of stories early, but with just being unable to wrap up the subplot. It also feels like Kelly/Seagle - stories that start, but don't see an ending.

The Fury story is pretty good for a straight-up super-hero adventure. I don't quite understand the characters, but I can live with it. X-23 is merely the entrance of a character of some questionable interest for me. It's enough to wonder a bit about her, but not enough for me to completely care.

The Savage Land story is pretty typical Savage Land. There's trouble. The Mutates are involved somehow. Ka-Zar gets involved. A fight ensues.

Psylocke's return . . . again, this is Claremont. He's thinking ten steps ahead. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work here. Esspecially in terms of the Hellfire Club. While things do eventually get resolved with Psylocke, the Hellfire Club just kinda peters out. Which sucks, because I actually felt like there was going to be a great story there.

I'll say this, though. The characterizations are just fantastic. Storm is very well defined - emotional, but in control. Nightcrawler is loveable again. Bringing Rachel back was probably among Claremont's best ideas since his return to the X-Universe in 200x.

There's a great moment with Wolverine and Nightcrawler, where they're sitting in a cafe in France, drinking coffee. It's one of those great character moments Claremont nailed back in the day and had left out in recent years. It's one of those moments that miss the most.

It's a mixed here, to be honest. Good art and fine characterization try and make up for lackluster and, at times, unfortutely pointless stories.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 123: "Day of the Atom"

X-Men # 157-164

(Side-Note: There's - again - a continunity problem here. So, therefore, I'm declaring that the adventures in this entry as well the next one both occur during the summer break. The students present at the rebuild Insitute are staying over the summer)

The X-Men are rebuilding after all the recent losses. The teams are reassigned and reorganized. Havok's team now consists of Polaris, Iceman, Juggernaut, Rogue, and Gambit. When trouble arises in China, the team heads over to see what the issue is. Turns out Xorn is there. Another Xorn. Xorn Jr. Or something. Anyways, he's killed a bunch of people with his black hole head. The X-Men try and retrieve him, only to be intercepted by a team called the Eight Immortals. A tussel follows, in which Gambit is blinded. Then, the whole gang is attacked by a Madrox-like group named the Collective. Well, in the end, the X-Men take Xorn Jr. back home.

Then, the X-Men fight with a new Brotherhood, this one consisting of Exodus, Sabretooth, Nocturne, Black Tom, Avalanche, and an elephant named Mammomax. With a fear of this new team attacking the mansion, Alex advises Annie that she should get somewhere safe. Annie, upset about something stupid, decides to just up and leave. Even a chat with Northstar doesn't stop her. Meanwhile, Sammy Pare discovers Juggernaut is working with the Brotherhood as their mole. Jugg's even proves this when he "attacks" Nocturne (though he really let's her get away). Sammy is pissed at Juggernaut, prompting Black Tom to kill squidboy. The X-Men and the Brotherhood then fight at the school. The battle ends with Xorn Jr. opening his mask and pulling Exodus, Avalanche, and Mammox into his black hole head - along with Juggernaut and Nocturne, who ended up helping the X-Men. Xorn Jr. then leaves and it turns out that Carter has an evil invisible friend.

Exit stage left, Mr. Austen.

Well, okay, I'll grant him this. These stories aren't too terrible. They're far from great, but they're spared the usual lack of Austen illogic, which helps. It's pretty much straight forward super-hero action.

Definetly didn't like the take on Rogue and Gambit. Rogue gets upset with Gambit because he's angsty? Yeah, it shouldn't be that big of a deal. Overall, Rogue is underused. I appreciate the parallel to Rogue being blinded back in the day by Strobe (post X-Cutioner's Song, remember?), but it doesn't quite work with Gambit. Hate the whole vision thing, too.

Polaris is characterized better, thank God. Iceman's a total jerk. Wolverine's fight with Sabretooth apparently happened all off panel. Mmmmmno. Havok and Annie were pretty much the same as always.

Juggernaut - which has been the shining light of Austen otherwise disasterous run - had a decent amount of characterization in the end, but I question why he was even a member of the Brotherhood at all. He's not a Mutant and never gave a rat's ass about Mutant rights and authority. Sorry, not buying it.

In the end, Austen took just about all of his toys with him when he left. Annie, Carter, Juggernaut, Sammy, Xorn Jr. and even Nocturne (which he dumped in 616 during his "Exiles" run) all left the series with Austen. Nocturne and Juggernaut would return later. Now, if he had only taken away the memories of Azazel and the Church of Humanity too . . .

Austen's run one of controversy. It's actually not bad in the beginning, gets a little worse, then gets really bad, then gets just stupid, then goes to an "above avegerage" status. He shook things up, that's for sure. Not all for the good. Definetly. But hey, Juggernaut had a lot of great moments. So . . . thanks for that.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 122: "War of the Programs"

Weapon X # 19-28

So, the new Weapon X project is kinda reformatting. Sabretooth's gone, Jackson is the new Director, and Marrow has left to form a new Gene Nation bent on destroying Weapon X. As Chamber discovers Neverland, Marrow is confronted by Agent Zero, who wipes all of Gene Nation. Agent Zero then fights Maverick and we discover the "new" Maverick is some kid from a while ago (issues I don't have) that's buds with Mav and that Agent Zero is Maverick himself.

Also, Director Colcord and Box are building an army of Sentinels.

Wolverine goes off to track down Chamber and he ends up at Neverland . . . which has been abandoned. The only clue is the word "Roanoke." Ditto goes for Maverick at the Weapon X base and Fantomex with John Sublime's empty grave. The three converge on a field, where it's revealed that Wolverine wiped out an entire town that had been sitting there as part of his intense testing.

Then, we're treated to a nice explaination regarding Weapon X and Weapon Plus. Turns out that the Weapon X Professor broke off Weapon X from the Weapon Plus Project (which was being run by John Sublime), thus all the other Weapon X creations over the years. When Director Colcord took over, he made a deal with John Sublime that they would stay out of each others way - except they would share Neverland.

Now, however, Jackson has a change of thought. The Weapon X program has gone underground and Sublime is out to find them. Or something like that. Wolverine, Fantomex, and Agent Zero fight off U-Men. Fantomex gets shot down.

Then Sabretooth is hired by a front for Weapon Plus to bring in Mr. Sinister. Eventually, there's some putzing around, but Sinister is brought in and meets Sublime. Sabretooth then joins the Brotherhood.



Talk about unresolved. I know that Tieri tried to wrap things up in a mini-series, but it actually isn't very good. Really. It's not. So I'm not including that. And if I did, there would still be about ten questions left in the air.

Where is Weapon X? What happened to Chamber? Is Fantomex dead? Where is Agent Zero? What about Colcord's Sentinel army? What about Reyes?

It's frustrating because - despite the sometimes terrible dialogue - this was a pretty enjoyable book. I certainly liked it. But no sense of closure. I kinda blame Tieri for that, but in the end, it's Marvel's fault. This was a book that was still telling it's story. They can't pump out five more issues to finish that story? Really? They could have even had the X-Men proper show up.

Which they should have.

Now, in this post-Decimation and mid-Endangered Species world, we've seen the ulimate fate of Weapon X. I'll cover that when we get closer to it. Now, however, I'm just left disappointed.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 121: "Picking Up the Pieces"

X-Treme X-Men # 46 (first half), New X-Men # 155-156, New Mutants # 13, X-Treme X-Men # 46 (second half), Uncanny X-Men # 442-443, Excalibur # 1-4

In Valle Soleada, the X-Treme X-Men and their pals (Kitty, Rachel, Amara, Lila, Callisto, and Roberto) learn of Magneto/Xorn's attack on New York City. Sage reactives Rogue and Gambit's powers, they grab as many willing Mutants as they can and head on out.

Back at the mansion, Scott is still unsure of how to handle things with Emma. He pretty much tells her this and she runs off to Salem Center. Scott and Beast then head down into the remains of the mansion to make sure that Cassandra Nova is still secure. A Danger Room robot then goes crazy and attacks them, but they are able to repel it. They are then summoned to the temporary X-Corporation branch in Slame Center, which is under attack by humans. Scott and Hank get there too late, as one Mutant student is killed.

Dani, Rahne, and Shan are then reunited with Sam, Bobby, and Amara. They check in on the kids, but there's trouble afoot. Pierce is back, looking to attack Josh Foley. The old New Mutants intercept him and take him down.

The reconstruction efforts still continue in New York, with the city being repaired in a quick fashion. Archangel talks with Storm and they head to Harry's Hideaway, where Storm announces the X-Men's newest status as the XSE and asks who will help shoulder it.

In Genosha, Wolverine and Professor X drop off Magneto/Xorn's body. The two bicker and ride each other about Magneto. Polaris, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver then show up and join in. It goes on and on, but ends with Polaris re-shaping the Magneto/Sentinel statue with Xavier's head on it too.

Everyone then leaves Professor X there alone with the corpse. Professor X gets some supplies out from where he had hidden them in the coffin and goes on his merry way. He encounters Unus, but is rescued by a I-can-make-ghosts mutant named Wicked and a dragon-type called Freakshow. They help him to a house near the shoreline, where Magneto shows up, alive and well.

Eventually, Callisto shows up and decides to join in on the fun. Not long after this, Magistrates attack, carrying with them two "living weapons" in the form of Shola and a Omega Sentinel (kinda like a Prime Sentinel). Professor X and Magneto save Omega Sentinel and the whole Genoshan gang fights off the Mangistrates.

It's a nice step back from the norm and makes for an interesting aftermath-like non-crossover reaction to "Planet X." It's good to see the various factions of the X-Men come back together. That being said . . . it's not very good. All of it. The continunity if funky in places. The X-Corp building is torched in one issue, but is fine in the next. It's . . . messy. There is a nice continunity moment, though, when Sam asks Dani a question off-handedly in "New Mutants" and it gets answered in "X-Treme X-Men."

The whole Magneto-is-alive thing rips a whole in "Planet X," but . . . meh. I'm glad he's back, though he and Professor X playing "The Odd Couple" on Genosha gets old.

Don't even get me started on the Chuck Austen issues . . .

And the art ranges from "okay" to "pretty bad." Even the Larocca stuff looks phoned in.

Oh well. Moving on.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 120: "Planet X"

New X-Men # 134-154

Again, much like the last entry, we'll be doing various stories in one fell swoop. The reasoning is the same - these basically all form one large story.

Riot at Xavier's
The X-Men find that young Omega-level Mutant Quentin Quire is not only on the verge of a major mutation, but also that he's starting to revolt and completely question Xavier's practices and ideals. In due time and with use of the drug Kick, Quire forms his own following - the Omega Gang. On Open Day, when humans are invited to come to the school and check it out, the Omega Gang captures Professor X and launches a full-scale riot. Some die in the riot and the Stepford Cuckoo's end up stopping Quire, but at the cost of Sophie, one of their own. Quire then begins to mutate into energy while the rest of the gang are dealt with. At Prizegiving, which is the end of semiester, Professor X decides to step down after the gripping events. In addition to this, Angel is pregnant by Beak; and Emma and Scott once more begin their telepathic affair . . . only to have Jean find out.

Murder at the Mansion
After discovering the affair, Jean puts Emma through the emotional ringer by using her own memories against her. Jean eventually finds out that Scott and Emma didn't actually sleep together (neither recently nor in Hong Kong), but have been having a telepathic relationship. Scott then leaves the team and Jean storms off. Later, Emma is found shot and shattered in her diamond form. Bishop and Sage affair on the scene and begin a full investigation. As they close in on the shooter, Jean and Beast put Emma back together. Clues involving Angel's children, the supplier of the Kick drug, and Beak's "confession" eventually leads to the pair to incriminate Esme Stepford, who manages to slip and meet her "contact." However, the question remains - where is Scott Summers?

Assualt on Weapon Plus
Scott goes off to drown his sorrows at the Hellfire Club, which is a sort of neutral ground for Mutants with money. Wolverine tracks him down and the two bump into Shaw and Sabretooth while drinking and discussing why exactly Scott turned to Emma. Eventually, the pair team up with Fantomex and barge into the surreal living lab of the Weapon Plus Program, called the World, to stop both them and Weapon Fifteen. AIM gets in the way and it all goes to hell. The trio chase Weapon Fifteen to a Weapon Plus sattelite, where it's revealed that Fifteen was to be part of a public-loved, reality televised super-hero team that goes after Mutants. John Sublime is involved. As Wolverine opens files on himself and is confronted by what he finds AND Weapon Fifteen, he blows up the station.

Planet X
Professor X monitors the situation. Phoenix goes up to rescue Wolverine, only to have her ship blown up after she and Wolverine end up on an Asteroid M - which is being shot into the sun. Beast and Emma go off to save Scott and Fantomex as they crash to the surface in EVA, but crash as well. Professor X then discovers that - this whole time - Xorn has been Magneto. Magneto cripples Professor X again (as he had fused his spine using Nanosentinels) and ravages New York. He's on Kick, which is making him loopy, and Esme and the Special Class make up his new Brotherhood. As Magneto wrestles for control of the city and prepares to flip the electro-magnetic field upside down, Logan and Jean are stuck in space and headed for disaster. Logan, hoping to release the Phoenix, kills Jean. Beak finds Cyclops, Fantomex and various students in Mutant Town after being kicked out of the Brotherhood. Phoenix then emerges, rescues Hank and Emma and they join in on the attack against Magneto. Everyone questions Magneto/Xorn. In the end, he gives Jean a planetary-scale stroke, then demands to be killed so that his legacy will live on after his death. Logan gives Magneto this as Jean dies in Scott's arms.

Here Comes Tomorrow
150 years in the future, Beast is evil and is after the Phoenix Egg, which houses the slowly regenerating Jean Grey-Summers. The current X-Men (being EVA; Tom Skylar and his Sentinel named Rover; Tito, Beak's grandson; Wolverine; Cassandra Nova and Martha; and Three-in-One) go off to rescue her from him. Turns out Beast is really being possessed by John Sublime, a force of living extinction and wants to use Phoenix as a force of extermination. Jean eventually figures things out when Wolverine dies. Turns out that after she died, Scott lost all hope, rejected Emma's love, and went off on his own. Beast just couldn't carry on, gave in to Kick, and was taken over by John Sublime. To save everything, Jean gives Scott a push towards Emma, which will hopefully lead him to re-opening the school.



“Riot” is the best of the bunch and, really, the best of Morrison’s entire run. It’s smart and incredibly well-written. You can feel for Quire and understand all of his problems and issues. The arguments he brings up are exactly what a teenager would say. The characters are handled perfectly. There’s a fantastic amount of tension as it leads into the big event – the riot itself - and its aftermath is handled very nicely. The dialogue snaps, the pace is nice and suspenseful, and the whole story is just well-done. Combined with great art from Frank Quietly, and it’s a winner.

“Murder” is good, juts not as. It’s nicely complicated, but not overly so. It really concentrates on the character who isn’t there – the traitor, the man behind the Kick and meeting Esme. It’s almost tragic with Emma falling in love with Scott. The art is rather good here, too.

“Weapon Plus” is . . . not as good. The opening issue is fine, though. We start to understand what is wrong with Scott. After everything Apocalypse put him through, he just can’t talk to Jean about it because he feels like it would ruin her image of her. Plus, all these great things are happening and he just doesn’t want to hold her back. Hence, Emma Frost, who has no expectations and just accepts him for him. It’s sad and tragic, but there’s a great deal of realism there. Now, the whole thing afterwards with Weapon Plus is rather blah and nutty, but has some good points here and there. Bachelo’s art is, unfortunately, not one of them.

“Planet X” is pretty good. I found Logan/Jean “we’re about to die” parts better than the whole, as well as Jean’s death. My issue is Magneto. I know it’s been firmly established that this isn’t Magneto, but I want it to be. Kinda. Magneto is out-of-his-mind whacky on drugs and probably Post-Stress-Disorder. The problem is that Xorn was such a well-done character that even with all the various clues planted throughout Morrison’s run, Xorn just doesn’t seem like Magneto. Magneto seems like Magneto, just on drugs. But Xorn doesn’t. Does that make sense? Whatever the case maybe, the central idea of this story is not “Xorn is Magneto,” but that in death, ones legacy can do more than his entire life. In “Planet X,” Magneto’s cause falls apart when he reveals he’s alive. But when he was dead, it lived on nicely – even in the form of Quentin Quire.

In “Here Comes Tomorrow,” it’s Jean’s death that carries on a legacy. Alive, Scott was unhappy. Dead and with a push from Jean, Scott finds happiness in the end, and ultimately, renewal. Just like a Phoenix, huh?

“Here Comes Tomorrow” is not a great story from Morrison, but it’s far from bad. I would rather have had a story about the X-Men picking up the pieces than this, but I can live with it. The characters are hard to relate to, but I loved Tom and Rover. In the end, there’s a certain feeling of love – though it’s hard to describe. I really liked what Jean did to Scott to help him move on. It was so self-sacrificing, helping her husband live and move on. Granted, it helped save the world, but there’s a deep emotional impact behind it. It reminds me of the original “Dark Phoenix Saga,” when Jean sacrifices herself to save the world and it impacts Scott so deeply. It’s similar, but it’s the emotional impact from Jean’s telling Scott to move on that saves the world.

Oh, and Marc Silverstri still draws the best damn Sentinels.

In the end, we’re faced with the last from Morrison. I’m disappointed we didn’t see more from him. I’d have loved to see his tackle the Savage Land or take us back to the Age of Apocalypse. But, in the end, it’s perfectly all right. We got great stories that changed the X-Men, breaking them from a super-hero mold they’ve been stuck in since the early 1990s. The X-Men became teachers, the mansion became a school, and all hell broke loose with new villains and new ideas. Morrison had a great impact on the X-Men and his legacy still continues. It was great to have him on board.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 119: "Intifada"

X-Treme X-Men # 31-45

Here we have the final three arcs of X-Treme X-Men. I've decided to have them combined like this because, simply enough, they're one big basic story. Let's roll . . .

The X-Men reunite with Rogue in a California town called Valle Soleada, near Hollywood. For some reason, this town is exactly what the X-Men have been fighting for. Mutants and humans co-exist happily with each other here. However, a gang of young Mutants wrecked a van, killing the family of a teenager by the name of Marie D'Ancanto. This sends Marie into a fit of terrorism and she tries to blow up X-Corp LA's leader, Sunspot, at a concert. The X-Men intervine and subsequently dig a little deeper. Turns out that a lawyer as been pushing human families out of the town and gives them terrible nightmares if they don't comply. They track the lawyer down to the X-Corp with Magma's help. The tension existing between the two major X-Men factions seems to have spread between the X-Men and the X-Corps. However, in the end, all signs point to Bogan.

Meanwhile, Storm and Gambit crash the President's range when he invites world leaders to come and have a meeting regarding Mutants. The two X-Men talk the world leaders into allowing her X-Men to have a global peace-keeping status as the X-Treme Sanctions Executive. The XSE.

The Arena
As the X-Men continue their search for Bogan, Storm jets over to Japan to investigate some arena battles. Guido shows up, she hangs out with a suddenly healed Yuriko, she fights Callisto, Masque is involved. Yadda yadda yadda. It's not good.

Prisoner of Fire
The X-Men continue their hunt for Bogan. Bishop purposely gets himself captured while the rest of the team - joined by Shadowcat, Skids, and Sunspot - go on the hunt. Bishop is taken under Bogan's control and faces off with Cannonball, Skids, Gambit, and Sunspot - they all lose. Rogue, Sage, Magma, and Shadowcat go searching underground for Bogan and discover some catacombs beneath the X-Corps office. They are then confronted by Bogan's telepath and the captured, mind-controlled X-Men. BUT! It turns out that Gambit and Bishop were faking it and they all help take on Bogan's little dork-faced minions. The X-Men free Bogan's telepathic pet and it's discovered to be none other than Rachel Summers! They take her back to the house and then they all finally deal with Bogan - who was hanging out in a glass egg the whole time. He's killed, destroyed, whathaveyou and the X-Men head on home.

"Intifada" is the strongest of these three stories. It's intriguing, it's got a strong mystery feel to it, it has a lot of energy and action. I absolutely loved it. Claremont does a great job making Valle Soleada into a place that I can actually care about. Claremont handling Mutant culture is a good thing, and it tends to bring out his best work. Marie is a character I can sympatheize with. Seeing old friendly faces like Sunspot, Skids, and Magma brings me into this story even more. Storm and Gambit's playing around in Bush's woods gets old but it adds a great sense of realism.

Then . . . it's time for the "Arena." Which is terrible. There's so many BDSM allusions and out of character moments that it just turned me off. Plus, it's such a terrible break from the more intersting story - that of the X-Men versus Bogan.

"Prisoner of Fire" isn't as good as "Intifada," but it's far better than how I remembered it. There are some rather stupid moments, such as when various characters cover themselves in lava, but there are great moments too - like when we are reunited with Rachel Summers. It's a decent story, one that wraps up the X-Men's story for the past few months rather. I wish that Bogan had been a developed beyond "I'm Shadow King lite" and actually had a reason to be evil. I also wish it hadn't been six parts. This could have been done easily in five.

We got some nice moments with Sage, which helped me enjoy her character a lot more. Rogue and Gambit also had some good scenes, even if they were a little corny. Good development all the way around.

I honestly have to say that Igor Kordey's art here is pretty bad. Don't get me wrong. I think he's a fine artist. Really. He has great talent. But he's not suited for X-Men. It's just not something he should be working on. He did great work on Cable and Soldier X, but X-Men . . . meh.

Overall, decent quality. There are parts of this trio that outshine other parts, but in an overall way, it seems to represent Claremont's second run on X-Men. Good ("Intifada"), generally fine ("Prisoner of Fire"), and awful ("The Arena").

If for some reason I decide to re-read this, I'm cutting out "The Arena" and am just concentrating on the good stuff.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 118: "The Ties That Bind"

Exiles # 28-30, Uncanny X-Men # 437-441, Weapon X # 15-18, New Mutants # 7-12

We've got four different stories here, but they all generally take place around this time, so here they are.

Unnatural Selection (Exiles)
The Exiles arrive in the Marvel Universe proper (616) to help stop Mutant X Alex from emerging in good Alex's body, thus preventing him from killing a Wolf-Mutant named Nick and our buddy Carter. While the X-Men and the Exiles deal with that, Maximus Lobo and the Werewolves return. Of course, both teams manage to take down the enemies thanks to some smart thinking on Nocturne's part (Scarlet Witch and Nightcrawler's daughter from an alternate timeline).

She Lies With Angels (Uncanny X-Men)
The X-Men play a bad version of Romeo and Juliet with the Guthries (save Sam) and a whos-who of a small town in Kentucky. Robots show up and Jay Guthries' girlfriend dies.

The Defection (Weapon X)
Chamber has a falling out with the X-Men (though it's all staged) and becomes a member of Weapon X, which is now under the control of Brent Jackson. His first order of business is killing John Sublime, who has a connection to Weapon X.

The Ties That Bind (New Mutants)
As the students continue to struggle with bringing Josh into their midst, Rhane returns to the mansion. There's sadness and drama at Parent's Week. Then, Laurie, Josh, David, and Sofia bring in a homeless Mutant girl named Nori (who can generate electricity). Even though Laurie is crushing on Josh, Josh is drooling over Rhane. He makes a move on her, reactives her powers, and she hurts him. Laurie saves Josh, who then heals himself and turns himself gold.

With the exception of "She Lies With Angels," all these stories are quite good. "She Lies with Angels" is really bad, but it's very beautiful.

It's great to see evil Alex and the Werewolves show back up, and the X-Men/Exiles team-up was very much appreciated. The senior X-Men were a little too accepting of the Exiles, but considering everything they've been through, it's understandable.

"The Defection" is pretty good as well. Jono is such a great character and Tieri captures him perfectly. Great to see some advancement for Jono.

"The Ties That Bind" makes some nice reading, being far less nostalgic than the first arc. There's more focus on the kids than the old New Mutants, which works much better. Nice development for all the characters, I must say. The art is terrible . . . just awful.

Overall, this is decent stack. One thing I've noticed about all these is that it really deals with the whole "next generation" X-characters. Werewolf student Nick and Carter are the focus of "Unnatural Selection," with hotheaded alternate reality Illyana and the lovely Nocturne appearing. Former Generation Xer's Chamber and Husk play big roles in Uncanny and Weapon X. Dani, Shan, and Rhane all play staring roles in New Mutants, along with the new students themselves. It really makes for interesting reading, seeing these older students integrated so well into the X-Men mythos, now training and teaching for new students.

Good stuff.


Uncanny X-Periment # 117: "The Draco"

Uncanny X-Men # 427-435

I knew this moment would come. The “Draco.”

Here’s the brief. We have three stories, all running parallel, and each one dealing father issues.

In one subplot, we have Professor X and Annie (along for the ride) getting a tour of Lorna’ loony-tunes mind. We discover she’s crazy because she’s A) Magneto’s daughter, for real; and B) she survived Genosha. Okay, we’re okay here. It’s not great, but it’s okay.

In another subplot, we have the Juggernaut heading up to visit Sammy, then finds out that Sammy’s father beat him. Juggernaut beats up Sammy’s father, then battles with Alpha Flight, before being arrested. A little later (though included), he does She-Hulk and finds the kid from a while ago who was abusing animals and somehow gained Juggernaut’s powers.

In the main plot, it’s revealed that Nightcrawler is the son of a Mutant/Devil guy named Azazel. It turns out that Mystique and Azazel did the nasty years ago on Earth so that she would have a Mutant baby that could one day free Azazel from his prison – even though he escaped before to whore himself out so that he could lay the seeds to escape. Yeah. That’s right.

So, Nightcrawler has brothers in Abyss and a new character that we never see again named Kiwi Black. The X-Men get pulled to Azazel dimension, it’s revealed that angels and demons are really Mutants (making Christianity moot, I guess), and of course an obligatory battle scene plays out.

Azazel falls down, goes boom. Nightcrawler comes home with his new brothers (love that anime smile on Abyss’ face!) and they all live happily ever after. The end.

I hate this fucking story. I’m sorry. It’s the worst X-Men story ever. I mean that completely. I’ve read some whoppers here, too. Crimson Pirates? The Neo? Candra? Revanche? Secret War 2? All of it is better than this.

The art is horrendous. Even Ron Garney’s work is subpar here. It’s like someone drew some form of pose and action on the pages, toss some ink on it and said it was done. The fill-in on the last issue is such a drastic style change, my eyes actually had whiplash (okay, well maybe not, but you get what I mean).

The pacing is quite all over the place. The story in it of itself is absurd. Other than the MASSIVE FREAKING PLOTHOLE I listed above, it’s just stupid. Why make Nightcrawler the son of the Mutant Devil? What is the point of that? We’ve already had his faith shaken and the priesthood cast away. Why go the next step? There doesn’t even appear to be any ramifications from this, either. He just kinda accepts it.

The biblical Mutants concept is like an insult to Christians. What’s the point of that too other than for me to say “No, that’s stupid?”

And Mystique is not a crazy person. I’d rather just take that Mystique as the one that stabbed Banshee’s throat and not the one doing secret missions for Professor X (which I unfortunately couldn’t include as I don’t have those issues).

Furthermore, Lorna being Magneto’s father is just lame. It was lame in the 60s and it’s lame now. Plus, wasn’t it proven in the Age of Apocalypse that it wasn’t true?

The only redeeming point is the Juggernaut story, only because Austen has done a fairly good job with Cain Marko. It could have all been done in one issue, mind you, but whatever.

This is as bad as it gets.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Uncanny X-Periment # 116: "God Loves, Man Kills"

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills OGN, X-Treme X-Men # 25-30

Here we go. Religion in X-Men. It's a bit of hot topic in this little era of X-Men, as was covered by Joe Casey (kinda) and Chuck Austen (overly). Time for ol' Chris Claremont to handle it, but first we need to flashback to a comic that is just about impossible to fit into the continuity.

The original tale takes place probably somewhere between the Brood Saga and From the Ashes, though the lack of New Mutants is questionable. Maybe they're off on a field trip to Muir Island or something. Anywho, the X-Men find themselves trapped in a conflict with one Reverend Stryker, who is preaching the Mutants are pure evil and should be wiped out. Professor X is kidnapped and his telepathy is used to strike out at Mutants, revealing them to the world.

Magneto and the X-Men team-up and take Stryker down. Xavier suffers a crisis of his own faith when Magneto tempts him to leave the X-Men, but he comes around.

YEARS later, Stryker's plane goes down while traveling to a new prison, but it turns out he was rescued by his associate, Lady Deathstrike. The two then become involved in a tug of war with a town full of Mutant children run by a Christian AI named Paul who sees only Mutants. With Kitty kidnapped the X-Men stuck in the middle, a conflict builds between Paul and Stryker until - in the end - Stryker joins Paul in a link-up to teach him the error of his ways.

God Loves, Man Kills is perhaps among the best X-Men comics ever. It's brilliant. It's X-Men for adults with really bad cuss words like bastard, hell, shit, damn, and even the n-word! Neat! There's guns, not lasers.

But ultimately, it's a great story because it's so honest to its self. Stryker, as nutty as he was, was relateable and interesting. One could understand his position, even if it was very extreme. I also very much enjoyed the fact that it wasn't Christianity that was the source of the problem - it was the use of it to do ones selfish bidding. And it blows up on him.

There's a great theme of faith throughout this story. Not only the faith in God and Christ, but also in Xavier's and Magneto's dream. Magneto and the X-Men are fighting together because they both want the survival of Mutantkind and their friends back - but also because they have faith in their dreams. In the end, Xavier even falters in his faith, but is brought back to it by his friends and family.

It's beautifully rendered story and with amazing art and a great story.

The sequel isn't nearly as strong, but it's not too bad. It lacks the religious and spiritual deepness that the original had, but it's not too bad. Drags on and has some golden moments, though it's not Claremont's best. Still, when he handles Mutants, Claremont does quite well.

NEXT UP: We had the good, now comes an example of how religion can be terribly portrayed in X-Men.