Sunday, February 23, 2014

Uncanny X-Periment # 173: Age of X

Age of X: Alpha, X-Men: Legacy # 245, New Mutants # 22, X-Men: Legacy # 246, New Mutants # 23, X-Men: Legacy # 246, New Mutants # 24

All of sudden, everything is different.   The last remaining Mutants have taken refuge in a huge tower built on Alcatraz.  They are led by Magneto and every day, they are assaulted by human forces.  Cannonball seems to be the field leader.  Legion, Hellion, Unuscione, Psylocke and a Phoenix-lite character named Reveanant are in charge of keeping a force field up around the tower.  Rogue (now called Legacy) has the quite grim job of absorbing the powers of everyone who is dying.  Logan runs a bar, since popping his claws and entering into a high-stress situation will kill him.  Scott is married to Frenzy.

In the aftermath of one of the daily battles with the humans, Legacy finds Kitty Pryde.  Kitty leaves behind a camera, but she is swiftly taken away by Magneto.  Magneto keeps her – and other Mutants that could endanger the tower – locked up in the basement.  Legacy takes a look at the camera, but finds nothing.  She uses Box’s powers to get down into the basement and she finds Kitty – and Danger.  She makes a run for it and finds herself in a cell with Professor X, who is in a coma.  She touches him, absorbs his powers, alerting Danger.  She manages to escape, but Magneto sends a New Mutants hit squad after her.  Legacy hangs out in Logan’s bar.  Magneto joins the hunt.  Gambit soon joins her, but they are soon discovered and squished by Magneto.

In the aftermath, Scott realizes something is wrong.  He and Logan conspire to work together to find out what’s going on.  Meanwhile, Gambit and Legacy are actually alive and well.  Magneto tucked them away.  He reveals that he sent Kitty out to take pictures of a room deep in the fortress that Magneto has no knowledge about.  The room  shouldn’t exist and it serves no purpose.  He sends Legacy and Gambit to break into it while he and Kitty go find the Professor, who may hold the answers they’re looking for.  In the room, Legacy and Gambit discover a frozen-in-time still image of Doctor Nemesis running to a computer, as well as brain scans, and a small box.  Legacy opens the box – and it has a universe inside. 

Outside, Cannonball preps his forces to fight the humans again.  Inside, Magneto and Kitty have managed to convince the New Mutant hit squad to not kill them, but Legion and his gang show up, branding them as traitors.  Professor X, now awake, tries to talk some sense into everyone. 

Meanwhile, Moira shows up (Legion’s god-mother) and demands that Legacy and Gambit hand over the box.   We soon realize that Doctor Nemesis was working on a way of deleting the multiple personalities in David’s mind, but in doing so, released one who Utopia into the Age of X.  As Xavier tries to battle Moira, the humans launch another assault.  The Mutants rise to the defense, united at last.  David, who remembers now what happened, absorbed Moira and ends the Age of X.

Let me tell you.  I loved this story.  I was really not expecting to.  Y’know, just another alternate reality.  Yada yada yada.  But man, the backstory is cool, the world is unique, the characters are so radically different, and yet in some ways, the same.  There’s a great sense of mystery to it. There was no reality hopping, no time travel, none of that.  How did this world come about?  Why are things the way they are?  Once the real world starts to leak through and the cracks are visible, you can see just how it got to this.  This is really phenomenal. 

What I also liked about this world were all the new, unique designs.   There’s a great level of effort to show just how different these characters have  become in the context of this new reality.

This really feels like the culmination of everything that Mike Carey has been doing with Professor X and Rogue.  Rogue gets a great spotlight and continues to shine. Professor X finally taking responsibility as David’s father seems just so perfect for him.  And David himself is very well-written.  I haven’t read the new X-Men Legacy, but this felt a lot like David’s best story.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Uncanny X-Periment # 172: Curse of the Mutants

X-Men # 1- 6

Jubilee is having a lunch with Pixie when suddenly, a dude explodes and sprays everyone with blood, including Jubilee.  Jubilee is rushed back to Utopia and it’s soon discovered that the guy was a vampire bomb and everyone splattered is transforming into a vampire.  The X-Men investigate and discover vampire groups throughout the city and eventually encounter Blade.  Blade informs them that Dracula has been killed and his son, Xarus, has united the various vampire clans in an effort to take over San Francisco and Mutantkind.  Cyclops takes a gamble and has Dracula reassembled in an effort to usurp Xarus and take the vampires away from the city.   As vampire attacks grow, Jubilee succumbs to the call of Xarus and now, fully vampire, tricks Wolverine into going after her.  The vampires turn Wolverine and then use him to help them attack Utopia.  Cyclops is then confronted by Wolverine and he reveals that they used nano-bots to shut down Logan’s healing factor, in fear that the vampires might be after him.  He reactivates the healing factor and Logan goes back to his old self.  After dealing with the forces attacking Utopia, the X-Men head over to the vampire’s headquarters, were Dracula proceeds to kill his son.  Cyclops convinces Dracula that he did something to him while they were putting him back together.  Dracula agrees to withdraw the vampire forces, much to Blade chagrin.   He leaves them with a turned Jubilee, whom they need to lock up, hoping that part of her is still in there.

I think this one of those rare cases where, to understand the scope of this, one should include the tie-ins.  With only these six issues, it felt like it was trying to be bigger than it was really was.  Maybe those tie-ins would have added more to that.

Overall, this wasn’t too bad.   I liked the use of Blade and Dracula.  It was neat.  It was far less gimmicky than I believed it would be.  I especially liked the connections between Storm and Dracula – it was good nod to the history the X-Men have with Dracula.  But I’m not a big vampire fan.  Rather, I’m not a big fan of the X-Men mingling with supernatural forces.   It’s distracting and weird.

There’s not a lot of characterization going in this title, which is disappointing.  And Cyclops feels like he’s nearing a tipping point.  Shutting down Wolverine’s healing factor?  Why didn’t Logan yell at him about that?  That’s a big deal!  And taking such a huge risk by resurrecting Dracula felt like ‘oh crap, Scott’s gone insane.’   Not a big fan of that.  I have to wonder if we are supposed to see Scott here as starting to reach a new level of superiority and confidence.  In fact, when he called the X-Men “soldiers,” I cringed a little.

The art was okay, but every single woman was really busty.  Like, unnecessarily so.  I don’t ever remember Jubilee having breasts that size.  Ever.

Side-Note: Honestly, I can’t include every arc of this title.  I can’t afford it and most of them are not critical to the X-Men’s on-going narrative (well, Volume Two is).   Plus, it looked like this was kind of an “X-Men Team-Up” book anyways.  For a while, we’ll be sticking exclusively with Uncanny X-Men and some (but not all) of X-Men Legacy.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Uncanny X-Periment # 171: The Apocalypse Solution

Uncanny X-Force # 1-4

Angel and Wolverine have formed a new X-Force squad, consisting of the two of them, Fantomex, Deadpool, and Psylocke.  They run it out of an almost X-Men museum called Cavern X.  The team receives word from Deadpool that’s he’s discovered a new (clone) of Ship in Egypt, containing a possibly reborn Apocalypse.  The team rushes in, fights a newly-minted War, and the other new/old Horsemen (the Final Horsemen, created in the past to take over in the event that others have failed).  They discover that Apocalypse has been reborn, his essence gathered into a newly created body.   As race to the Moon (where Ship has teleported), Angel deals with the Archangel side of himself, as well as the Horsemen.  They defeat the Horsemen and then find Apocalypse . . . and discover he’s just a kid.  A kid in bedroom, playing toys and with movie posters on his walls.   A kid who barely has a clue that’s he’s Apocalypse.  Psylocke insists they can take him in and train him; Logan agrees.  Warren doesn’t, and as Archangel, prepares to kill him.  But just at the last second, he realized he can’t.  Fantomex steps up and shoots the kid in the head.  X-Force heads home in silence.

This was pretty good.  I loved seeing Psylocke play such a large role in this story, as she has been on the back-burner for a loooong time.  I liked the decision to continue X-Force in secret.  Warren’s struggles, the insight into the working mind of Fantomex and Wolverine’s leadership are all very well done.  Deadpool, meh, isn’t at his best here.  There’s not a lot of humor to him and really just comes off as annoying.

The scene where Apocalypse killed is so well executed (no pun intended).   There was so much build-up and so much tension, and just when you thought it was going to end well . . . it doesn’t.  The reactions from all team members just speaks volumes about this event.  This whole arc was just . . . whew . . . it wasn’t the X-Men, that’s for sure.  But that’s the point.