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Sep 2

Savage Wolverine #21-22 – “The Great War”

Posted on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

This came out two weeks ago, and was rather overshadowed for our purposes by some of the other stuff that was out.  But let’s deal with it quickly before time moves too far on.

With the centenary of World War I extending for the next four years, perhaps we should expect a number of stories to take a crack at it.  Now nestled safely beyond the sensitivities of living memory, World War I has a well settled place in popular culture: it’s the war that symbolises the slaughterous futility of war.

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Aug 31

Wolverine: Three Months To Die vol 2

Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

In December 2013, when Marvel were soliciting issue #1 of the current Wolverine run, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Stegman, they offered retailers a novel incentive to order high.  Any unsold copies of issue #1, they said, could be exchanged for an exclusive “Mortal Variant” of issue #12 in September 2014.  And, it was made clear, you would want copies of issue #12, because it was a “double-sized landmark issue” which Marvel expected to receive “national attention for its game-changing story”.

In April 2014, Marvel announced the four issue Death of Wolverine miniseries by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven, to ship weekly in September.  Entertainment Weekly, who were given the official announcement story, described Death of Wolverine as the “culminat[ion]” of “Three Months To Die”.

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Aug 26

Wolverine Annual #1 – “Wolf and Cub”

Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Yes, “#1″.  I know.

This is going in the second “Three Months to Die” trade paperback.  But that’s largely a case of “got to stick it somewhere” (despite the cover banner billing it as part of the story).  So we might as well give it a post of its own.

Although it has nothing much to do with the “Three Months” storyline, this story does take as its starting point the loss of Wolverine’s healing factor and his sudden feelings of mortality.  Its actual point is to give him a chance to say goodbye to Jubilee.  She hasn’t been a regular in his stories for years, but she was his main sidekick back in the 90s, and Paul Cornell hasn’t used her, so it makes sense for the Annual to give her a visit.

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Aug 24

All-New X-Factor vol 2 – “Change of Decay”

Posted on Sunday, August 24, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Most of the stories we’ve looked at lately have been reasonably self-contained, even if lengthy.  All-New X-Factor operates rather differently.  Peter David works more in the soap opera style of team book that dominated the 80s and 90s, where the focus isn’t on having a single overall plot, so much as on getting a whole bunch of plates spinning, and then checking in on them from time to time.

And thus far, David has been largely devoting his time to getting the plates spinning.  Where volume 1 gathered the team, volume 2 spends most of its six issues on introducing Georgia Dakei and her family, as well as setting up a few plot points to be returned to in future, before finally unveiling the corporate X-Factor to the public in a press conference in issue #12.

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Aug 4

Uncanny Avengers vol 2-4 – “Apocalypse Twins” / “Ragnarok Now” / “Avenge The Earth”

Posted on Monday, August 4, 2014 by Paul in Uncategorized, x-axis

It’s been some time since we checked in with Uncanny Avengers.  But then, it’s been some time since Uncanny Avengers finished a story.  These three volumes collect a story - not a multi-story arc, but a single story – that began in issue #5 last April (actually an epilogue in vol 1), and ran without interruption until issue #22 last week.

This is a story pitched unequivocally at an epic scale.  Multi-book crossovers aside, I can’t remember the last time we had a single story of this length.  Picking up stray plot threads from his X-Force run, Rick Remender starts relatively small, then dials up the scale to breaking point and beyond.

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Aug 1

X-Men vol 3 – “Bloodline”

Posted on Friday, August 1, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

After the debacle of last week’s festival of obscurity, we have another decidedly underwhelming story destined straight for the “completists only” pile.  Though “Bloodline” scores over the Wolverine and the X-Men arc on the level of straightforward accessibility, it remains a clumsy affair with a lot of downright odd choices.

The plot is straightforward.  Baby Shogo’s father turns out to be a villain called the Future, recently escaped from jail.  The Future wants Shogo back, in order to raise him as an heir.  He tries to kidnap Shogo from the school, but ends up with Jubilee instead.  He tries to trade Jubilee for the kid, but the X-Men won’t deal.  They beat him.  He dies.  This takes five issues.

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Jul 26

Wolverine & The X-Men vol 1 – “Tomorrow Never Leaves”

Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

It is difficult to know what to say about the first volume of Jason Latour’s Wolverine and the X-Men run.  Difficult, because it is difficult to know what on earth the story is meant to be in the first place.  I gave up on this arc in confusion halfway through issue #5, resolving to have another go when the final issue came out.  But reading it in one go didn’t make it any clearer.

I did eventually succeed in deciphering the plot.  It took me five read-throughs and 1,300 words of working notes.  Meanwhile, I had asked on Twitter whether anyone else had read the story and understood it.  Nobody replied to say that they had, but there were quite a few “thank god, I thought it was just me” responses.

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Jul 20

Marvel 100th Anniversary Special: X-Men

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel 100th Anniversary Special: X-Men is a truly misbegotten mess of a comic.  It is tempting to call it “misconceived”, but that would actually be unfair; the central concept of these specials is potentially interesting in various ways, and this story even starts off by attempting to take one of the interesting approaches.  But having done that, it steers vigorously into the first available ditch.

The high concept of these specials is supposedly to imagine what Marvel’s flagship titles might look like in 2061.  Crucially, it is not meant to be projecting fifty years into the future of the characters; the assumption is that the sliding timeline remains in effect, so we’re rather less far advanced into the characters’ future.  And the story here dutifully reflects the wonkiness of Marvel time: most characters are slightly and non-specifically order, while Shogo is now an adult.

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Jul 12

All-New X-Men vol 5 – “One Down”

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

Well, more or less.  The fifth All-New X-Men collection actually starts with issue #25, the jam issue, which we’ve covered already.  But after that, it’s the four-part Brotherhood storyline, which finished this week.

Taken at face value, this is a straightforward story where the Brotherhood – the future version introduced in “Battle of the Atom” – attack the X-Men’s headquarters, try to kill them all, and fail.  It’s interwoven with some flashbacks (or should it be flash forwards?) to the Brotherhood’s back story, which principally serves to establish that the Brotherhood is really just Charles Xavier Jr and Raze, with everyone else having been under Xavier’s mental control all along.

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Jul 6

Magneto vol 1: “Infamous”

Posted on Sunday, July 6, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Magneto has been an antihero, or at times even an outright hero, for the better part of thirty years now.  Which makes it surprising that he’s not had an ongoing series before, particularly given Marvel’s evident keenness to find every exploitable angle on the franchise.

There are two likely major reasons for that.  First, bear in mind Magneto’s role in the X-Men.  When first introduced in the Silver Age he was just a generic would-be world-conqueror.  The early Claremont stories largely stick to that portrayal, though they throw in an element of personal bitterness towards the X-Men.  But it’s only later that Claremont really brings his big theme front and centre, and – almost as a consequence of that – has to retool Magneto.

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