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Nov 8

Uncanny X-Men vol 6 – “The Revolution”

Posted on Sunday, November 8, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

And here we are at last.  The X-books returned to regular continuity this week with their latest relaunch, in the form of Extraordinary X-Men #1.  But they also shipped the much-delayed Uncanny X-Men #600, the final issue of Brian Bendis’ run, which was presumably held back to avoid treading on Secret Wars or something.

In theory, at least, this delay does the final volume no favours.  Bendis has always had a fondness for the device of consecutive issues all building up to the same event from different directions.  Issue #32-35, which round out this volume, are all self-contained issues focusing on different characters, some of which serve as an epilogue of sorts to his run.  And issues #33 to #35 explicitly end with “To be continued in Uncanny X-Men #600″.


Nov 2

House of M

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

The X-books tour of Battleworld has been largely a parade of misery.  And so it’s something of a relief that we get to complete that tour with a relatively pleasant dystopia, at least if you’re a mutant.  Sure, House of M is a world where Magneto has installed himself as emperor and is systematically oppressing the humans.  But hey, at least the mutants are doing okay.  They get to wear cool stormtrooper outfits and everything.

The original House of M miniseries, ten years ago now, was always a better concept than it was a story.  It set up a world that looked quite interesting, but what followed was seven issues of gathering the characters and killing the pages until it was time for the deus ex machina to happen.  So there’s actually some unused potential that’s worth revisiting here.  And that’s pretty much the approach which this book takes; forget the details of the original story, and do something with the general concept, free of any obligation to hit the reset button at the end.  (Oh yeah, and pay lip service to Doom.  But this is one of those books that might as well not be on Battleworld at all.)


Oct 25

Age of Apocalypse

Posted on Sunday, October 25, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

We still have one more Secret Wars X-books to go – House of M – but Age of Apocalypse completes our tour of the X-books’ outright dystopias.  As with most of the throwback minis, this isn’t actually the original Age of Apocalypse world, but a new one of the same general ilk.  And it pretty much pays lip service to the Battleworld gimmick (in fact, both the prologue and the ending don’t really work in Battleworld terms).  What we have here, then, is a nineties nostalgia mini.

This one commits rather more fully to the nostalgia angle, bringing back Fabian Nicieza, one of the writers of the original crossover.  Nicieza hasn’t done any work for Marvel in a while, but is obviously well placed to echo the tone of his own original story.


Oct 16

What If? Infinity: X-Men #1

Posted on Friday, October 16, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Some questions can only really be answered with another question.  Take, for example, the X-books’ contribution to a load of What If? one-shots based on 2013’s Infinity crossover.

The book asks the question: “What if the X-Men were the sole survivors of Infinity?”  To which the obvious response is, “Why would anyone want to know that?”


Oct 15

Old Man Logan

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

It is the nature of big crossovers – even of the type Marvel do nowadays – that sometimes a tie-in book pops up, whose remit is to move a character from A to B.  This isn’t always a bad thing; often, a remit like that is so minimal that it makes it perfectly possible to wrap a decent story around it.  A plot point for the big story can double as a macguffin for the small one.

Old Man Logan is a series that exists to get a character from A to B.  But when you get down to it, that’s pretty much the sum total of what happens in the book.


Oct 10

E is for Extinction

Posted on Saturday, October 10, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

While much of Secret Wars may be taken up with callbacks to the great crossovers of yesterday, but E is for Extinction turns its attention to Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run from 2001-2004.  (Strictly speaking, “E is for Extinction” was just the first arc of his run, but you can’t really call a book Grant Morrison’s X-Men when Grant Morrison isn’t doing it.)

In its way, of course, Morrison’s run was far more significant to the X-Men than any “event” book.  For the first time since the 1975 relaunch, it broke with the idea that the X-Men was a single, ever-growing saga.  Not everything in the preceding decade had been a straight emulation of Chris Claremont – the Seagle/Bachalo run was in that period, for example – but it was all positioned as a continuation.  Morrison’s run, both at beginning and end, is a break point.


Oct 7


Posted on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Back in the day, What If…? used to do nothing but imagine what might have happened if a high-profile story had turned out differently.  The answers tended to be pretty similar: something terrible would have happened – otherwise, what would it say about the stakes in the original story?  Bad things would ensue, alternate versions of major characters would probably die, and some sort of bittersweet redemptive ending would follow.  It’s where the premise tends to lead you.

So with the Secret Wars X-books playing such a straight bat in terms of revisiting old stories, maybe it was inevitable that we would end up with a dystopia glut.  It’s more surprising to see two separate books both built around the set-up of the X-Men quarantining an island.


Sep 29

X-Tinction Agenda

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

If Years of Future Past was a confused book with some good ideas, X-Tinction Agenda is a simpler beast. By all appearances, it’s here to fill the pages.

“X-Tinction Agenda” is not immensely fertile territory for a Battleworld mini.  The original story, way back in 1990, was notable mainly for wrapping up two long-running stories – it finally reunited the X-Men after a lengthy period when the cast were scattered around the globe, and it tied up the original Genosha arc, in which the country was a thinly veiled allegory for apartheid-era South Africa.   Neither of those is a particularly pressing issue today.  Of course, the story also opened the era of Genosha as a basket case state on the verge of collapse, and that’s effectively what Marc Guggenheim and Carmine di Giandomenico are running with here.


Sep 28

Years of Future Past

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

The X-Men do so love a nice dystopia.  In fact, vast tracts of X-history are built on either the threat of the world becoming one, or a side trip to some alternate world which already is one.  So with Secret Wars being based largely on What If…? stories spinning off from old event stories (at least in the case of those books which are steering clear of the patchwork mechanics of Battleworld itself), it’s perhaps unsurprising that the X-books find themselves largely contributing an array of parallel-world misery.

On paper, Years of Future Past should be one of the most promising.  For one thing, the reference point here is “Days of Future Past”, which is the story that sent the X-Men down this path in the first place.  And for another, it’s by Marguerite Bennett and Mike Norton, which is a pretty strong creative team.


Sep 18

Giant-Size Little Marvel AvX

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

How long have Skottie Young’s variant covers been going now?  Long enough that you’d have thought the joke would have worn thin, but in fact, they’re holding up pretty well.  The idea, and Young’s art, lends itself rather nicely to the one-panel gag format of the variant cover, and it’s now well enough established that it can start playing off its own trope.

So, sure, let’s do something with them for Secret Wars.  In fact, they’ve had a one-shot before, in orbit somewhere around the Avengers vs X-Men crossover.  And this is effectively the sequel.  While it’s technically set on Battleworld, the Battleworld trappings barely come into play.