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Apr 15

All-New X-Men #25

Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

It’s a jam issue!

Does anyone actually like jam issues?  And by that, I mean “like reading them”, not “like making them”.  Rare indeed is the story that is actually improved by hurling 15 wildly different artists at it, in the same way that few songs have benefitted from the tender mercies of a charity ensemble cover version.  Jam issues tend to end up with weird structures – like this issue, in which the Beast is visited by a mysterious figure who shows him a bunch of possible future timelines.

The result is not a story.  It’s a bunch of pin-ups and a couple of gag strips with a framing sequence.  Spin it how you want, but that’s the bottom line.


Apr 13

The Trial of Jean Grey

Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Ah, a crossover!  ”The Trial of Jean Grey” runs through six issues of two Brian Bendis comics - All-New X-Men #22-24, and Guardians of the Galaxy #11-13.  If you really want to indulge Marvel, the first two chapters officially appeared in issues #22.NOW and #11.NOW.  But let’s not.

This story has basically two points to make, and doesn’t need six issues to make them.  Nor is it even particularly clear about the points it is making.


Apr 12

“Haunted” – Marvel Knights: X-Men #1-5

Posted on Saturday, April 12, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Is there a place for the Marvel Knights imprint in 2014?  The sales on the three recent Marvel Knights minis certainly aren’t encouraging.

When the original Marvel Knights imprint was launched, back in 1998, Marvel was a very different place; its titles stood out as creator-driven relaunches quite unlike the 90s house style that dominated at the time.  Mid-90s Marvel’s conservatism may have been driven partly by the financial strictures of insolvency, but that still made the new books from Joe Quesada’s office look truly new.


Mar 31

A+X #13-18 – “Outstanding”

Posted on Monday, March 31, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Before we go further, I repeat the gratuitous plug.  You can now buy tickets for our live show on 31 May – details in this post.

A+X, then.  The anthology has finally succumbed to the inevitable.  These six issues will make up the anthology’s final collection (which is where the title comes from, in case you were wondering).

It’s a series that has always been more interesting for what it says about Marvel’s publishing philosophy than for the actual stories it contains.  You could be forgiven for thinking that A+X is a series that was only launched to try and capitalise on the surprising success of AvX: Versus, in an attempt to squeeze yet more money out of the company’s two top franchises.  At first glance, that’s very much what it looks like.


Mar 30

Amazing X-Men #1-5 – “The Quest for Nightcrawler”

Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Let’s start with the Obligatory Plug (though Al does this stuff so much better than me) – don’t forget that you can now buy tickets for our live show on 31 May.  The details are all in this post.

Moving on…

When Marvel announced that Nightcrawler was returning from the dead, my reaction was at best ambivalent.  Not that his death in “Messiah Complex” was some sort of inviolable classic, of course.  Far from it; it was a classic example of writers killing off a beloved character because they had no plans for him and his accrued cachet might lend the story an illusion of weight.  It provided no sort of resolution to the character’s life, and frankly, it was a surprisingly cheap move considering the writers involved in that story.


Mar 23

X-Men #7-12 – “Muertas”

Posted on Sunday, March 23, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

“Muertas” is a storyline that starts off strongly and ends up as a bit of a mess all round.

Even the titling suggests confusion.  Issue #7 clearly gives the title as “Muertas, part 1 of 6″.  But issue #10 – sorry, “issue #10.NOW” – which ought to be “Muertas, part 4″, is instead titled as “Ghosts, part 1″, despite being manifestly a middle chapter, apparently for no reason other than to justify the dodgy promotion.

It starts with a decent idea, though.  Ana Cortes, a rich Colombian teenager, gets hold of the disembodied consciousness of Lady Deathstrike.  Before anyone asks, I couldn’t remember where she died either, and an explanation might not have gone amiss.  (As best I can figure, it’s meant to be Uncanny X-Force #5.1, where she escaped X-Force by uploading her consciousness to the internet – she’s appeared elsewhere since, but if she’s a downloaded consciousness these days, I guess there’s no reason why there can’t be several of her.)


Mar 15

X-Men Legacy #300 – “ForgetMeNot”

Posted on Saturday, March 15, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel has long viewed numbers as less a counting system and more a promotional opportunity, and here we have a prime example of that – a comic labelled as X-Men Legacy #300, devoted to celebrating ninety-three fabulous issues of X-Men Legacy.

Bizarre as it may seem today, the series that became X-Men Legacy started off back in 1991 as X-Men vol 2, spent many years as the flagship of the line, and changes its name to New X-Men for a while in order to play host to the Grant Morrison run.  But then it became X-Men Legacy, which was essentially a vehicle for solo series to be branded under the X-Men name.


Mar 2

Wolverine and the X-Men #42 – “Graduated?”

Posted on Sunday, March 2, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The end of the road, then.  It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on Wolverine and the X-Men, which wraps up Jason Aaron’s run with two epilogue issues, in advance of next week’s (!) relaunch with Latour and Asrar.

While Aaron may be sticking around over on Amazing X-Men, which shares a similarly relaxed attitude to sanity, this is more than just creator reshuffling.  Despite its name, Wolverine and the X-Men was never really about Wolverine and the X-Men at all.  It was about the school.  Marvel finally got a book about the trainees to work – albeit by the slightly questionable device of marketing it as something else.  Unsurprisingly, the final issue goes for the ever popular graduation day theme – an excellent way of marking a symbolic turning point for some of the characters while leaving the school in place to grind happily on for the next creative team.


Feb 23

Uncanny X-Men #17 – “You’re in the Middle of Nowhere”

Posted on Sunday, February 23, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Hanging over Brian Bendis’ X-Men run is the spectre of his Avengers run, in which a bunch of seemingly disparate plot threads ultimately turned out, after several years, not to even gesture vaguely in the direction of coming together.

His X-Men stories have generally done a rather better job of giving the impression that there’s a coherent plan to it all, even if it does often seem like one that could speed up a bit.  But every so often you have to wonder.


Feb 15

X-Men Legacy #19-24 – “For We Are Many”

Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

As the second wave of Marvel NOW launches hits the stands, one of the more interesting products of the first wave draws to a conclusion.  While the sales of X-Men Legacy rather suggest that it would not have been long for this world anyway, it feels as if Simon Spurrier’s story has come to its natural conclusion anyway.  There’s no sense here of things being cut short; on the contrary, this seems to be the pay-off of everything the series has been building to this point.