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Apr 26

Wolverines vol 3 – “The Living and the Dead”

Posted on Sunday, April 26, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

I don’t know quite what I was expecting from a weekly series following on from Wolverine’s death and starring the likes of X-23, Daken and Sabretooth.  But it probably wasn’t Wolverines, which, if nothing else, is at least the most cheerfully insane thing that the X-office has produced in ages.

Having started off with a relatively coherent premise – five other test subjects of Dr Cornelius exploit his hypnotic programming to forcibly enlist Wolverine’s associates in the search for a cure for their own fatal modifications – Wolverines has meandered wildly off course.  A big chunk of the cast disappeared during volume 2.  Mystique seized control of the remaining group and wandered off on a vaguely-defined agenda of her own (seemingly something to do with bringing Mystique back from the dead).  Fang, of all people, showed up to torment Wolverine’s rogue’s gallery.

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Apr 6

Cyclops vol 2 – “A Pirate’s Life For Me”

Posted on Monday, April 6, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

The first volume of Cyclops was one of the quiet gems of the line last year.  Plainly never intended for anything more than a short run (though sales would probably have done for it anyway), and doomed to be seen as a footnote to All-New X-Men, the second volume nonetheless has a good stab at completing the title character’s arc.

But while the first five issues were written by Greg Rucka, this arc sees John Layman take over. Layman’s  good in his own right, though, and for most of this book he does a solid job of continuing what Rucka had started.  Broadly, the idea seems to be that the series starts with Scott depressed by the knowledge of what his older self will become, and sees him gradually regain his confidence and mature into a (somewhat) different sort of hero under the different mentorship of his father Corsair, who was absent the first time around.  So instead of Cyclops being defined by the X-Men, this is Cyclops having formative experiences in the Starjammers’ milieu.

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Mar 29

Nightcrawler vol 2

Posted on Sunday, March 29, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Nightcrawler is but the latest in a long line of X-Men solo titles that never looked remotely likely to make it past a year, whatever it might turn out to contain.  And so it comes as no great surprise to find that this second volume is the last.

You have to wonder about Marvel’s thinking, when it comes to commissioning books like this.  I doubt anyone would seriously dispute that the X-Men line is far larger than any creative considerations could justify.  But persistently launching titles for which there is little discernible demand doesn’t exactly make much sense on purely mercenary grounds either.

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Mar 15

Wolverines vol 2: Claw, Blade & Fang

Posted on Sunday, March 15, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Wolverines is turning out to be one of the oddest, most haphazard X-books in quite some time, seemingly for reasons both intentional and otherwise.  This second volume takes us up to issue #10 – halfway through the run, as the whole thing is wrapping up in May before Secret Wars.  And quite where it’s all heading at this stage is anybody’s guess.

The first arc set up a relatively focussed story.  The Paradise guys wanted to get their hands on Wolverine’s body in order to (somehow) derive a cure for their condition; the rest of the cast were tagging along in order to be released from their post-hypnotic control words.  So this sets up a series about people chasing the Wolverine statue as a macguffin, right?

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Mar 11

Uncanny X-Men vol 5 – “The Omega Mutant”

Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

It’s been a long, long while since we checked in with Uncanny X-Men, but that’s because this is a long, long story.  The title above may say volume 5, which collects issues #26-31, but the Matthew Molloy arc started back in issue #23, with the “Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” issues.  And then it overran at the end (which is why issue #31 has a cover for a completely unrelated story).

We should, I suppose, note at the outset the other oddity of this storyline – that the first three issues are billed as an Original Sin tie-in, despite the minor technicality of having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Original Sin.

Those three issues, you may recall, were billed as Original Sin tie-ins, something which manages the unusual double whammy of being both egregiously mendacious and essentially harmless.  “Last Will” is not an Original Sin tie-in by any possible stretch of the imagination.  But it does at least feature a hidden secret coming to light, and since most actual Original Sin tie-ins just used the crossover as a springboard to do basically the same thing, I suppose there’s no harm done.

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Mar 7

X-Force vol 3 – “Ends/Means”

Posted on Saturday, March 7, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

The third volume of Si Spurrier’s X-Force run is also the last.  Given the sales on the one hand, and the imminence of Secret Wars on the other, you have to wonder whether Spurrier would have let this run for longer given the choice.  But it doesn’t feel rushed; Spurrier makes his point in this fifteen issue run and draws a line under it.  Yes, there are unusual narrative jumps in the closing issues which could be a sign of cancellation-driven compression, but they’re played (successfully) as deliberate creative choices.

Put shortly, Spurrier has devoted his run on X-Force to critiquing and rejecting the entire concept of the team – that is, the darker, paramilitary version of the X-Men that Rob Liefeld brought about in 1991, and which formed the template for the recent versions.

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Mar 2

All-New X-Men vol 6 – “The Ultimate Adventure”

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

It’s been a while – a long while – since I’ve been able to say this, but there’s a podcast this week!  Check one post down for the new House to Astonish episode.

Meanwhile… All-New X-Men visits the Ultimate Universe in a story that ran long.  This was originally solicited as a five parter, it winds up at six, and it’s gone off schedule enough that issue #38 ended up shipping ahead of issue #37 (to avoid screwing up the Black Vortex crossover).

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Feb 22

Wolverines vol 1 – “Dancing With The Devil”

Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

We’ve accumulated quite the backlog while I’ve been otherwise occupied.  So let’s start with Wolverines vol. 1, which covers the first five issues of the series.  For one thing, it’s the longest-outstanding review.  And for another, it’s a weekly series, so the book is already halfway through volume 2.

Marvel aren’t generally that keen on the weekly format.  They tried it with Amazing Spider-Man for a while, but for the most part they’ve been content to leave it to DC.  DC, in turn, has had mixed results with it both commercially and (even more) creatively.

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Feb 2

All-New X-Factor vol 3 – “Axis”

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

Don’t panic.  Take deep breaths.  This is the last Axis story we have to cover.

Actually, only three of these issues – #15-17 – are Axis tie-ins.  Before that, we have a couple of issues in which Quicksilver rebuilds his relationship with Luna (which is basically Pietro taking a bit of responsibility and winning back some trust), and Lorna builds some bridges with Wanda (just in time for Axis to retcon away the relationship that makes that story worthwhile, so that’s odd).  And after the tie-in, well, it’s cancellation time.

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Jan 25

Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program

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

We’re running a few weeks behind here – the first Wolverines arc will be finished imminently, come to think of it – but let’s not allow Weapon X Program to completely pass us by.  That said. we probably need to say a few worlds about Secret Wars first, don’t we?

The official line from Marvel is that Secret Wars represents the end of the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe, after which we’re going to get “Battleworld”, which seems to be some sort of mash-up of alternate worlds and such forth.  This is, pretty obviously, what Jonathan Hickman has been building to in Avengers for a while, and also what Brian Bendis has been moving towards with all the stuff about time breaking down, as which of course forms the central premise of All-New X-Men.

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