Monday, March 24, 2008

Up-Dates Coming

Sorry about the lack of up-dates lately. Things have gotten pretty busy here. I meant to review X-Men: Emperor Vulcan for weeks now, I was so disappointed in the ending of this series that I just didn't feel like it. You'll see an X-Periment entry by the end of the week, though.

The future of this blog has been decided, by the way.

Like I mentioned, Emperor Vulcan will show up by the end of the week. When Giant-Sized Astonishing X-Men comes out, you'll see that post made (and moved, I think) within the week of that. For the most part, that'll put us pretty much up-to-date.

As far as "Divided We Stand" goes, I'm a little uncertain. At the moment, I'm only buying three X-Books - Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, and Wolverine Origins. Y'all might just have to wait for the trades to show up before I tackle X-Force, Wolverine, and Young X-Men.

If I get really bored, I'll post an X-Periment for "X-Men: Die by the Sword."

Not sure about "Secret Invasion." If an X-Men tie-in is released (other than X-Factor), I'll pick it up. Not doing what I did with Civil War though (which is all messed up for some reason -- it's missing a large chunk of its review).

As things calm down around here, expect some other entries. I plan on going back and doing reviews of other X-Books including X-Force/X-Statix, Exiles, X-Factor, etc. as soon as I pick them up. Which might be a while, but I have a lot of comics. It'll be fine.

I have some other things cooked up, but it will most definetly have to wait a few months.

The reason why things are slowing down here (other than the fact that we're pretty much in the present) is because on top of school and work, I'm also getting married in September. It's expensive and time-consuming. So, pretty much after mid-October (post-honeymoon), this blog will be up-dated more often.

In the meantime, stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Uncanny X-Periment # 149: "Endangered Species"

X-Men: Endangers Species, X-Men # 200, Cable/Deadpool # 42, X-Men # 201-204, Uncanny X-Men # 587-591, New X-Men # 42-43, Endangered Species back-ups

There’s a new threat against the Mutants and it’s unlike any they’ve had to face before. They are now faced with the possibility of extinction – of becoming an Endangered Species. It’s under these themes that the X-Men must react to the conflicts around them.

Members from the X-Men, X-Factor, and New X-Men head to the funeral for a Mutant teenager who rejected an offer to go to Xavier’s in pursuit of a “normal” life, only to get hit by a bus. The funeral causes the X-Men to come to terms with the idea of being an endangered species, as well as what role they play in a post-Decimation world. This includes a run-in between Xavier and Sebastian Shaw.

Afterwards, Rogue’s team heads to Mystique’s old home because she wants to (probably because she’s slowly going crazy). Once there, Iceman contacts Scott and asks them to come on down and look into Rogue’s mental state. Meanwhile, on Providence, Cable is targeted by Gambit and Sunfire. As Cable retreats to the power core of the island, Deadpool fights off Senyaka (how is this guy still alive?!) and is eventually tricked by Cable into teleporting away. Cable blows up Providence along with himself.

Back at Mystique’s house, Wolverine, Beast, Emma, and Cyclops arrive. They look into helping Rogue, but are swiftly ambushed by the Marauders – with the opening strike coming from a Malice-possessed Sentinel and Lady Mastermind. Mystique then reveals herself a traitor as well when she shoots Rogue. Emma gets taken down, but mentally takes control of Cannonball and Iceman and makes them flee. The two do battle over the Appalachian Mountains (I’m assuming) with Sunfire, whom they eventually take down.

Meanwhile, the mansion is attacked by Exodus and the Acolytes, who are looking for Destiny’s Diaries. The New X-Men, Colossus, and Shadowcat fight them off and the Acolytes leave, having discovered that the diaries at the mansion are all blank and the real ones are hidden somewhere. Back at the house, the remaining are trapped and the Marauders leave them there, with Rogue in tow. Emma reveals that Kitty knows where they are, but the location is hidden within her own mind, locked up with a hypnotic key. Kitty figures it out and Cannonball and Iceman are on the case. In the meantime, it’s revealed the Marauders targeted the Witness, the alive-but-now-dead-again Vargas, Cable, Gateway, and Blindfold to keep information about the future away from the X-Men – hence why they’re after the diaries. The duo confront the Marauders and Sinister himself at where the diaries were buried. They get destroyed during the battle and Sinister leaves Cannonball’s mind hollow before they storm out.

Cannonball recovers (as does Blindfold, who kinda killed herself to keep safe earlier) and it turns that the only reason Gambit and Mystique teamed with Sinister was to save Rogue, who is now comatose.

Over in the Uncanny and taking place within the same general timeframe (I imagine it being a day or two later), Caliban turns up at the mansion, back in his skinny form. Storm, Warpath, Hephzibah, and Caliban head into the Morlock tunnels to find out why the Morlocks did this to him. They find some strange prophecy written on a wall in the Alley (as a continuity nut, I should point out the Alley is flooded [LINK]).

Professor X and Nightcrawler go searching for Magneto while this is happening.

Masque, it turns out, is back in charge of the remaining Morlocks – Skids being among them. Masque launches an attack on a subway train that mutates the appearance of all those on board. Skids disagrees with this, feeling that he misinterpreted the words of someone. Storm uses her resources at the Baxter Building to pinpoint the Morlocks headquarters. ONE also tracked them down and were slaughtered. When these four show up, a Sentinel arrives to arrest them, but Skids awakes from where she was left unconscious during the battle and reveals herself to be a SHIELD undercover agent. She tells Storm and Caliban that Morlock named Delphi wrote a book off prophecy that tells of a great change and conflict to come and that Masque’s Morlocks are misreading the book.

Masque arrives with the captured Warpath and Hephzibah and takes them all under a cathedral he’s going to blow up with the X-Men in it so it looks like they did it. Storm uses her lightning to free herself and eventually Nightcrawler and Professor X show up and all are able to defeat Masque. Skids steals the book of prophecy and delievers it to Magneto, telling him that it says that he’s still a Mutant.

The New X-Men come to terms with all the death and destruction in their lives, as well as their current place in live in terms of them possibly being the last generation of Mutants. Meanwhile, the Purifer-released Predator X turns from his quest to kill Sand.

During and around all of this, Beast goes searching for a way to save Mutantkind. After long and dead-ending consultations with Mr. Fantastic, Yellowjacket, and even Iron Man, Beast has no choice but to turn to villains: Pandemic, Mr. Sinister (pre-Blinded by Light, I’m assuming), Arnim Zola, Sugar Man, Spiral, Kavita Rao, and the High Evolutionary. Everyone turns him down but Rao and Spiral, who make half-empty promises. The High Evolutionary seems to waver and gives Beast enough of a reason to make him confront him. He heads up Wundagore Mountain, bumps into the Knights, and then finally sees the High Evolutionary. Wyndham tries to convince Hank that this is natural way of things and that was done was done and that since magic created this mess, science would not fix it. He told that to Hank’s colleague. Colleague?! What?!

Hank then goes to Rao, who offers him Mutant samples that have now gone inert. Rao leaves Benetech for India. Hank hits another dead-end, but gets a file folder from her marked ‘Neverland.’ Hank gets the information about Neverland from Wolverine, and then heads their himself. Turns out that when Neverland closed, they killed all of the Mutants there (probably around the time of War of the Programs [LINK]). It’s there that none other than the Dark Beast shows up, the so-called ‘colleague’ the High Evolutionary referred to. Hank decides to team-up with Dark Beast in the hopes of figuring this out. They head on out and as they fly, Dark Beast gives Hank a sample of his memories of the Age of Apocalypse. Dark Beast suggests grave-robbing Nate Grey’s body, but it’s not an option. They go to Alamagordo, New Mexico (former home of the Black Womb). Turns out they killed Mutant babies and Hank immediately rejects the research. They also encounter a SHIELD robot that was supposed to kill them, but they destroy it and get out, believing the Sinister had been there all ready. The duo head to Genosha next and dig up bodies to recover samples, but find that most of them don’t have viable X-Genes anymore. They go in search of MGH, hoping that it might be enough to inject viable X-Genes into Mutants. This takes Hank to Bishop and District X, where a dealer in MGH tells them that all their samples are (shocker!) inert. The dealer pisses Hank off. Bishop talks to Hank about the future and Beast realizes that perhaps alternate reality Mutants might hold the key.

Hank goes to Forge, who found a way using Nimrod technology to scan alternate timelines and alternate futures for Mutants. Each one of them has flat lined, meaning Wanda’s power has affected more than just 616. He rejects Forge’s help and goes back to Dark Beast, who believes that perhaps the best option would be going to human parents of Mutants. This idea takes them to the Guthrie’s. She refuses to give them a sample because of all the pain and hurt having Mutants in her family has caused and is unwilling to bring that to anyone else. As Hank tries to change her mind, Dark Beast goes and meets up with young Lewis Guthrie, who is a Mutant wanna-be. He offers him an injection that might give him powers, but it causes a terrible reaction. Hank takes on Dark Beast, but is beaten. Luckily, Lucinda shows up with a gun and shoots Dark Beast and allowing Hank to save Lewis and declare that he is finished with Dark Beast.

Spiral shows up shortly thereafter, telling Hank that magic might be the key. This sends Hank to Doctor Strange, who shows him that Wanda’s declaration is now a permanent part of reality. Strange sends Hank to sees various other realities, where his quest has gone ever with failure. Finally, Hank has a dream of Wanda which sends him on a mission to find her. He does and she tells him a “be careful what you wish for” story before sending him on his way. Hank stops back at Neverland and buries the dead, trying to make peace with everything he has to do and with the failure he has been met with.

As whole, these stories pull together very well. “Blinded by the Light” is the strongest of all the offerings. Mike Carey really makes me a fan of his writing with this story. Not only does it tie heavily into the whole “Endangered Species” theme, but it also serves as Carey’s first real knock-out home run of a story. He handles all of the characters with great appreciation and depth, and serves them up in a state of chaos. It’s great to see Gambit again and Carey does a fantastic job on tackling the relationships between these various characters. The sheer chaotic sense that comes from this story is played brilliantly. By diving into the mythos and history of the X-Men, Carey solidifies himself as someone who knows something about the book he’s writing. Add into the mix Sinister, Exodus, the Marauders, and the Acolytes and we’ve got a presentation of a threat that is great once again after so long of being on the bottom rung. More than anything, though, there’s an energy in “Blinded by the Light” that’s been missing from the X-Men for too long.

The “Cable/Deadpool” part is as usually expected. Enjoyable, funny, but a little sad too.

I wish I could say the same about Brubaker’s “Uncanny X-Men,” but if there’s one thing lacking from “The

Extremists,” its energy. That’s not to say it’s not a vast improvement of the otherwise bland “Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire.” In fact, “The Extremists” is a great bounce back. It puts these small group of X-Men in a similar style position as their adjectiveless counterparts, where they’re being told about this harsh and conflicted future. Except where Sinister and Exodus are out to wipe out the knowledge of the future, the Morlocks are acting in extreme ways about the future. It’s a great parallel, though it might have worked better had the ‘book’ written by Qwerty been revealed to be one of the diaries of Destiny. But that’s okay. There’s still the same sense of history that was presented in “Blinded,” though this one in terms of the characters themselves. I do have to chide Brubaker for not giving us a proper scene of Scott grieving over Corsair. Indeed, I would have played this up a lot more – with Scott dealing with the death of his estranged son and estranged father. Man, what great angst was wasted . . .

“Children of X-Men” presents a story with the students dealing with the possibility of being the last Mutants. Played along with the angst and drama baggage that this group has been carrying around for months and months, it’s well-presented and handled excellently. Plus, the looming threat of Predator X plays out well.

“Endangers Species” does an awesome job of pulling the aftermath of “Decimation” back into the spotlight and focusing in on the mechanics of the event. It’s honestly exactly what the X-Men line needed and though we’ve waited for so long post-Decimation, it works pretty okay with the long span of time. Putting Beast and Dark Beast together and then on a tour of the X-Men’s corner of the Marvel Universe was a brilliant idea and it’s probably some of the best character development Hank has received since he almost took ‘Hope.’

As an overall whole, these stories connect well and play off each other with strong results. The threat of “Endangered Species” propels the X-Men into a direction with a full tank of gas. And it’s about freakin’ time.