Saturday, November 24, 2007

UXP # 138: "Decimation # 5: Deadly Genesis"

X-Men: Deadly Genesis # 1-5

I’m stuffed of turkey and pumpkin pie; therefore I’m too fat to do a proper overview. Here’s the scoop:

The energy field now in place above the Earth has energized a Mutant trapped in the big ol’ corpse of Krakoa. He comes back to Earth, proceeds to lure Cyclops and Rachel into a trap and captures them. Meanwhile, those X-Men guys are all reliving past troubles. Eventually, Scott and Rachel break out. Rachel’s rushes off to get the rest of the X-Men while the Mutant – Vulcan – takes Scott to Muir Island. It was on Muir Island that Banshee discovered just who and what Vulcan is. He takes the information back to the mansion, but gets squished between the Blackbird and a jumbo jet. The evidence makes it! The X-Men discover just what is going on.

Turns out that a loooong time ago when the original X-Men were captured by Krakoa, Professor X needed to throw some Mutants at the living island. Turns out before he snagged those loveable “All-New All-Different X-Men,” he got some rascals from Moira to train (with his brain!) and launched them at Krakoa. Then, they’re completely wiped out except for Vulcan. Turns out that Vulcan is Scott and Alex’s brother! Oh noez!

The X-Men confront Vulcan on Muir Island, along with Professor X (he’s walking [again] and is human). Vulcan flips out, learns that the adaptive Mutant Darwin is hiding on him, and then flies into space to beat the livin’ crap outta some Shi’ar. Cyclops then kicks Professor X out of the house.

Oh, and Briggs dies. NOOOOOOO!

Well, let’s get started off. Off the top of my head, I do like this story. I think it’s well-executed. Nice and creepy with plenty of good excitement and characterization all around. The art is moody and gloomy; but at the same, vibrant when it needs to be. Trevor Hairsine's line work is pretty good, but I think it wouldn't have been as effective if not the colors. Kudos to Val Staples for a good job on the coloring.

I guess my major beef with this is just why it’s necessary. I like these new characters – Petra, Sway, Darwin, and Vulcan – which it makes it harder to see wiped out so easily. There’s a lack of logic there too. What makes the “Giant-Sized” team so kick-ass to make it through Krakoa? I mean, they had Wolverine. Banshee was part of Interpol and former super-villain. Sunfire was a bad guy too. Storm was a criminal/goddess. But what about the others? Colossus was a farmer. Nightcrawler was in the circus.

And yet, the stand-ins had a telepathic super-cram session and still failed? Meh. Not impressed. Why push this stuff into such a great story? It kinda ruins it, you know? It’s unnecessary. It’s good, but it’s unnecessary.

And it is good. This was pretty enjoyable story, really. Just a little nuts.

Oh well. “Decimation” is over. Next? The aftermath!


Friday, November 23, 2007

UXP # 137: "Decimation # 4: Son of M"

Son of M # 1-6

Quicksilver is feelin’ pretty crappy after what he did. After rescuing a pre-198 Johnny D from some thugs, Pietro is the rescued by Spider-Man – who proceeds to yell at him for messing up Peter’s life. This itself concludes with Quicksilver leaping off the side of a building, only to be rescued by Crystal and Lockjaw. She takes him to New Attilan on the moon, where Pietro is reunited with his daughter, Luna. Pietro then decides to use the Terrigen Mists on himself. He does, and with some crazy-ass time travel techniques, steals some of the Terrigen Crystals and he and Luna head to the Earth, shunning the Inhumans.

On Earth, Pietro gives Luna some of the mists, which grants her powers. They then travel to Genosha, where the former Excalibur crew is juiced back up. The Inhumans and General Lazer and ONE track Pietro down to Genosha. Pietro, after an emotional confrontation and rejection with Magneto, realizes that the mists actually cause former Mutant’s powers to go extreme. The Inhumans show up battle with the former Excalibur guys (resulting the death of Unus) and then turn to find that Lazer has taken the crystals and is unwilling to return them. Black Bolt declares a state of war, Pietro sends Luna home where her powers diminish, and Pietro finds that he himself has merged with some of the crystals. He then goes the Mutant Town to help former Mutants get their powers back.

First of all, the story is top-notch. David Hine does a fantastic job of layering different parts of Pietro’s history upon him. The reintroduction of Luna and the time spent with not only the Inhumans, but Spider-Man and the former Excalibur guys all make for nicely-done highlights. The characterization for everyone is spot-on. About the only thing I was unsatisfied with was the question as to why Luna was not in the House of M reality; as in, it wasn’t asked.

The art is beautiful and simple, with a nice beat and pace to it. What really drew my eye were the designs applied to the Inhumans. They all look bizarre and exotic. Human, but yet not. Martinez really hits the nail on the head with this one.

As an overall, “Son of M” is the highlight of “Decimation.” It’s the best Quicksilver story since probably “Magneto Rex,” if not his former on-going.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

UXP # 136: "Decimation # 3: Blood of Apocalypse"

First of all, my apologies on the lateness of this entry. Real life has been insane lately. Second, my apologies on the short overview. Again . . . real life.

Cable and Deadpool # 26-27, Apocalypse versus Dracula # 1-4, X-Men # 180-187

Deadpool goes on the hunt for Cable after Cable goes missing. Turns out Cable has discovered Apocalypse is returning and goes to confront his ancient nemesis. He allows Apocalypse to live because Mutantkind must rally around ‘Poccy in order to survive.

As Apocalypse is restored, Ozymadias recalls a battle between Apocalypse and Dracula. These had met on an ancient battleground when Dracula was Vlad the Impaler. During the 1800s, Dracula finally sought revenge on Apocalypse by attacking Apocalypse’s descendants in the Clan Akkaba. It comes down to two final members – a teleporter and a fire-breather. They save Apocalypse from Dracula and that’s the end there.

In the present day, in Costa Rica, Lorna and Alex encounter both the Leper Queen and a Doop-like being called Daap. Daap takes Lorna and the Leper Queen to Apocalypse. At the same time, a Mutant called Gazer is challenged and becomes War. Sunfire is then recruited in as Famine and becomes his AOA self.

About this time, Apocalypse shows up at the mansion and offers his healing and power-restoring blood to the 198 and X-Men. With Mystique back and causing a rift between Remy and Rogue with the introduction of the Mutant power-disabling Pulse, Gambit joins with Apocalypse as Death. The Sentinels are wiped out in the meantime and then Apocalypse heads off to the UN.

The X-Men (and the New Avengers) manage to take down Apocalypse in his Sphinix-ship, with Apocalypse escaping . . . only to be recovered by the Celestials. Lorna, who was Pestilence this time, leaves the X-Men. As does Pulse. Sunfire and Gambit as manage to escape, joining with Sinister in the end.

First of all, I need to applaud Frank Tieri for not making “Apocalypse vs. Dracula” suck as badly as it could. In fact, the Clan Akkaba is a nice concept and pops up again. It’s a little whacky, but it works with both the Marvel version of Dracula and Apocalypse. So . . . not bad.

Cable and Deadpool is fun, but I would have liked to have seen more Cable’s thoughts and reactions about Apocalypse’s return. It just doesn’t feel right, to be honest. It was well executed, but just wasn’t quite on the button.

The main event isn’t too bad. The story itself is nicely delivered and has a strong direction. There are flaws. It’s jarring and sometimes it seems like the X-Men just aren’t acting like themselves. They should be dog-piling on Apocalypse. Cyclops needed a stronger emotional reaction to Apocalypse’s return. Even though the focus was more on Alex, Scott needed more development here.

Apocalypse himself isn’t acting like himself either. He’s off character, carrying so much about his image. It reminds a little of Morrison’s Magneto/Xorn from “Planet X.”

Furthermore, the Sentinels from ONE seem to become more and more pointless.

But the character development and art are all on high. And for the faults of the story, it was an interesting and fun ride.

Milligan’s run comes to an end. It was a curious little batch of issues. He handled the team well, even if he dropped the ball with the bad guys. His best work was with Rogue and Gambit; his worst was with Lorna, Bobby, and Alex. There was a fundamental organic/natural theme through just about his entire run. Giant fungus spore alien monsters in “Golgotha;” sex and lust in “Bizarre Love Triangle;” monkeys and apes in “Wild Kingdom;” and blood in “Blood of Apocalypse.” It was a interesting theme and it certainly made for intriguing – if not flawed – stories.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

UXP # 135: "Decimation # 2: Human and Mutant"

X-Men: 198 # 1-5, Generation M # 1-5, X-Factor # 1-6, Sentinel Squad ONE # 1-5

Quite suddenly, the X-Men have 198 Mutants living on their grounds. With the damage done to the dorms, they all have to live in tents outside. Poor Muties. This includes the emotional distraught Magma and her former lover/manipulator Empath; the mysterious Mr. M; Toad; and various others such as Leech, Caliban, Erg, Jazz, Outlaw, Peepers, Sack, Johnny D, and loads more. The group is having some serious trouble with Sentinel Squad ONE hanging around. This includes them being tagged when they want to leave to visit Salem Center. Thanks to rising tension from Johnny D (who killed Jazz using his Mutant voodoo-doll powers), there's a riot on the X-Men's hands. Mr. M leads the 198 off the estate, where Johnny D (now joined with General Lazer) manages to kill Mr. M. The 198 returns to the estate then.

Sally Floyd, journalist for the very liberal newspaper “The Alternative,” struggles with depression and alcoholism while interviewing ex-Mutants. We see what’s happened to Stacey (a full-blown prostitute); Marrow (living with Morlocks, protecting them); Chamber (comatose with a hole in his chest and face); Jubilee (a political activist); Blob (a thug with diseases); and Dani (taking some time away). As she is doing this, she is being stalked by a crazy Mutant named the Ghoul. This leads to the X-Men using Sally as bait, then managing to take down the Ghoul.

X-Factor investigations is now completely active in Mutant Town (aka District X) and now consists of Maddrox, Wolfsbane, Guido (man, I just want to call him Strong Guy!), Syrin, and M – with Richter then joining after a failed suicide attempt. X-Factor gets involved with a human whose sister was killed by an actor who was being protected by Singularity Investigations. Layla Millar eventually joins the gang, telling everyone that “She knows stuff” and manages to save Richter from an SI agent. After solving the case, Syrin is kidnapped by a former Mutant, and then rescued by Richter. Finally, Layla is taken away, only to have run away and rejoins the team.

Six months ago, Sentinel Squad ONE was a bunch of cadets consisting of (mainly) Alexander “Lex” Lexington, Briggs, Rajani, a Mutant named Melt, and a guy named Skylark. They and a bunch of others go through some exercises – including stopping a Hydra assassination plot, cyber-dinosaurs in the Savage Land, and Wild Sentinels in South America.

Overall, this is a nice and much-needed catch-up with the various Mutant characters we’ve seen over the years. The 198 and Generation M, especially, serve as strong points here with a nice look at all sorts of crazy Mutants. I’m not exactly satisfied with where Stacey has ended up, but I’m pleased with the fates of many of the others. As a Generation X fan, it’s nice to see that M has ended up with the “big boys” in X-Factor.

The 198 made for a good read. The art was touch and go. Sometimes, it was perfect; others, it was an odd fit. I don’t understand why the X-Men have had so much trouble rebuilding the dorms and why the poor masses had to sleep in tents. Surely, the X-Men could have cleared out the cafeteria and set up some cots. And some of those Mutants just surprised me in terms of how “evil” they are. I mean, Toad and Mammomax, I can understand as they’re pretty low on the list and I don’t think they’ve actually killed anyone. But, some of the Marauders are there, as well as Gene Nation. These aren’t good guys. They’ve killed innocents.

The government-is-evil is a pretty overused concept, if you ask me, and it’s done so again here. However, it’s mainly because GENERAL LAZER IS EVIL. Val Cooper and Colonel Reyes aren’t, but GENERAL LAZER IS PURE EVIL. What? You didn’t know that?

Over in Generation M . . . I like Sally Floyd. I don’t anymore since she became stupid in “Civil War: Frontline,” but I like her here. She makes for a nice character and I liked looking through her eyes at the post-Decimation events. Sally been a little retconed into the X-Men’s history, but I can deal with that.

X-Factor is another good book here. It’s far more internal than the original Peter David run and that’s the major highlight. Taking a firm look at Decimation and dealing with its major aftermath and impact on Mutant Town was a wise decision. Nice flow, very moody, and some great characterization are what holds this comic together

Finally, we have Sentinel Squad ONE, which is, for the most part, a little on the bland side. I thought their various adventures weren’t all that strong. That being said, it’s nice to have a face to the names and each character was certainly well-realized. What I really liked about this book, though, is what is said in the beginning of issue one in regards to Sentinel Squad ONE’s existence. It’s there in case everything else falls apart and there are no super-heroes. Say . . . if there was a ban on super-heroes or something, right?

Again, it’s nice to see the fall-out of “House of M” and M-Day dealt with in a way that works. These all made for some good and interesting stories, though some were a little boring at times. A definite improvement.