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Jan 1

Magneto vol 2 – “Reversals”

Posted on Thursday, January 1, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

One more volume, and then we can lay Axis to rest for now.  (There’s still the All-New X-Factor tie-ins to come, as part of that book’s final collection.)

The first volume of Magneto was a strong start, setting a clear and distinctive tone.  It backed off from the familiar locations of the Marvel Universe, it steered clear of familiar superhero tropes, and it generally set about being a bleak character study of a man who had taken on many of the techniques of those he claimed to hate, and who seemed completely isolated from those he claimed to represent.

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Dec 29

Avengers vs X-Men: Axis

Posted on Monday, December 29, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

I already wrote about this series halfway through its run, and not much has changed since then (and, as previously noted, we’re behind in the reviews department) – so this is one I can probably keep short.

For the assistance of anyone stumbling upon this post years after the plot has faded from memory, Axis is the lynchpin series of a three-month crossover in which the Avengers, the X-Men and a bunch of random villains team up to fight the Red Skull, and can only defeat him by using magic to invert the morality of everyone in the area.  So the Avengers and the X-Men are both evil now and they have a big fight and the villains stop them because they’re heroes now and basically everything is back to normal at the end except for a few characters who aren’t.

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Dec 28

Storm vol 1 – “Make It Rain”

Posted on Sunday, December 28, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Well, we’re miles behind with reviews, aren’t we?  Axis finished up this week, as did the Annuals story “The Secret Life of Eva Bell”, and Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy.  Volume 2 of Magneto actually wrapped up last month, it’s been over a week since Storm #6 came out – which wouldn’t be so bad, except the first volume collects issues #1-5.  We’ll catch up with these over the coming weeks.

Let’s start with Storm.  Unlike some of the X-books I’ve written about lately, Greg Pak and Victor Ibanez’s series has some vocal support.  That takes the form of a pre-emptive campaign to save it from cancellation, which, given that the November issue was at 122 on the Diamond charts, is hardly an unreasonable concern.

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Dec 21

X-Men vol 4 – “Exogenous”

Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

We don’t get many stories that focus on Rachel Grey these days.  I suspect that’s because she looks increasingly like she could have been productively put out to pasture some time ago.  When she was added to the cast back in the 80s, she was a high concept character – a refugee from a nightmare future that the X-Men had already averted, where she had been the daughter of the then-deceased Jean Grey, and thus the presumptive heir to the Phoenix.

That gave her a bunch of potential story directions, but they’ve pretty much been followed through to their logical conclusions.  She came to terms with being the next Phoenix; her home world got a resolution in which the day was saved.  Her mother came back (and then died again).

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Dec 12

Amazing X-Men #14 – “The Worst Of Us”

Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Oh good, another Axis tie-in.  We definitely haven’t flogged the inversion horse to death yet.  I’m so glad we’re getting it again here.

Let’s recap why these tie-ins largely don’t work.  The whole “inversion” angle is fine for a few issues of Uncanny Avengers where you camp it up to the nines and have the heroes go crazy so that other people have to step in and save the day.  But when you try to extend it beyond that, you find that it kind of works with the villains, but it’s a lost cause with the heroes.

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Dec 7

Axis: Revolutions

Posted on Sunday, December 7, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Nitpickers may quibble with the idea of doing Axis: Revolutions this week, given that it still has an issue to run.  But nothing else is wrapping up this week, and Revolutions is an anthology title, and it’s clear enough by this point that it can be safely filed as one for completists only.

Also, the solicitations for issue #4 tell us that (a) there will be a She-Hulk story and (b) there will be a story written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, and I have a terrible feeling they will be one and the same, and that is something I do not want to see, because the fact that Howard Chaykin made some good comics thirty years ago doesn’t alter the fact that everything he does with female characters is abominable now.  (That said, the “next issue” box at the end of issue #4 promises Iceman and Dr Doom stories, so who the hell knows.)

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Nov 30

Wolverine and the X-Men vol 2 – “Death of Wolverine”

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

The first volume of Jason Latour’s Wolverine and the X-Men run was pretty much an outright catastrophe.  The main problem was an excessively complicated plot, which didn’t entirely make sense to start with, and which was told in a massively confusing way.  So whatever good ideas were in there got lost in a welter of confusion.

Given such a disastrous start, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that Latour’s second volume is his last.  In fact, he doesn’t even make it to the end of the volume, with the final issue – originally solicited with his name – turning out to be written by Frank Tieri instead.

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Nov 23

Axis

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

Once again, everything is in mid-storyline this week.  So instead let’s quickly check in on how the sprawling Axis crossover is doing, six issues in.

Despite being billed as Avengers vs X-Men: Axis, the core series is really just a re-labelling of twelve issues of Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers, which had been building to a big confrontation with the Red Skull from an early stage.  Uncanny Avengers has always been somewhat semi-detached – and indeed, while there are tons of tie-ins being published here, they don’t actually impinge on the main Avengers and X-Men titles, which are getting serenely on with business as usual.

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Nov 10

Death of Wolverine one-shots

Posted on Monday, November 10, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

There’s a concept in literary theory called paratext, which (as I understand it) is basically everything that isn’t strictly part of the text proper, but still frames the text, and affects the way you read it.  The packaging, the promotion, the design, that sort of thing.  All things that can prime you to respond to the story in a certain way.

Event stories like “Death of Wolverine” are all about the paratext.  If Charles Soule’s four-part story had simply appeared, without prior publicity, in issue #whatever of an ongoing Wolverine series, and if the continuation of that story had just appeared in issue #whatever+1 of that same series, all without any pretext of cancellation, the audience reaction to the final page would be very different – it would, pretty much, be that the story’s clearly not over, so I wonder how Wolverine is going to get out of this one.

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Nov 3

X-Force vol 2 – “Hide/Fear”

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The current incarnation of X-Force is evidently not a book written with the collections foremost in mind.  Presumably it’s a need for convenient break points that brings us a volume comprising four issues, rounded out by a reprint of X-Men Legacy #300 – which, yes, is by the same writer, and does introduce a character who appears here, and hasn’t been reprinted before, but still…

If the opening six issues of the series were about introducing Si Spurrier’s take on the individual team members, these three stories (#8-9 is a two-parter) move the focus onto the group.

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