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Jun 21

“Uncanny X-Men vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.” – Uncanny X-Men #19-22

Posted on Saturday, June 21, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

For a writer who chooses to work mainly in the superhero genre, Brian Bendis never seems all that interested in having a well structured plot.  First and foremost he’s interested in his characters, which is fair enough.  His actual stories can often end up as rather meandering, or as sketchy gestures to provide his characters with busy work between conversations.  His rambling Avengers run is pretty much the epitome of this.

So “Uncanny X-Men vs S.H.I.E.L.D.” is fairly unusual for a Bendis story, in that it sees a bunch of story threads being drawn together in a clear attempt to resolve numerous plot points at once and create a Big Climax.  And what do you know, it largely works.  Largely – and with one glaring exception that brings me back to the point above.

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Jun 15

“Valentine’s Day” – Savage Wolverine #20

Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The regular Wolverine series is (obviously) the more important of this week’s two Wolverine issues, but let’s deal with this one briefly.  The theory of Savage Wolverine is presumably that with the ability to do stories from any point in Wolverine’s long history, you have a vast range of scenarios to draw on.  You can go anywhere in the world over a period of a century or so.  If nothing else, diversity ought to be readily achievable.

And yet here we are, three issues later, back in the Prohibition.  Perhaps that’s more of a scheduling error than anything else.  Frank Tieri has always leaned towards crime stories and it’s unsurprising that he would think this period suits him.  In terms of his interests, it certainly does.

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Jun 8

Amazing X-Men Annual #1

Posted on Sunday, June 8, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

If it was surprising to see a blatant filler story crop up in the ongoing Amazing X-Men title last month, it is rather less so to see one in the first Amazing X-Men Annual.  Annuals have always tended to be a venue for the inconsequential, and there was a lot of sense – commercially speaking, at any rate – in Marvel’s decision a decade or so back to just stop making the things and put the resources into making extra issues of the regular titles instead.  But of course, that means getting extra material out of your regular creators, which is sometimes easier said than done.  That may be why these things are starting to re-emerge; if it’s plainly not going to pass for a regular issue, maybe better not to make the attempt.

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May 27

“No Goats, No Glory” – Amazing X-Men #7

Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

I’m running late this week, but hey, this one shouldn’t take long.  Amazing X-Men #7 is notable more for what it isn’t than for what it contains.  What it isn’t, is a comic that particularly matters – however you choose to define “matters” – because it’s a throwaway fill-in issue.

Firestar and Iceman are out shopping when they bump into an alien baby who’s being chased down by Spider-Man, who needs to retrieve him in order to get back a goat mascot who’s been abducted by aliens.  (For reasons not shared with posterity, Spider-Man was looking after the goat.)

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May 19

X-Men: No More Humans

Posted on Monday, May 19, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel’s new line of graphic novels is an odd beast.  After all, everything gets collected in trade paperback format anyway.  So what makes a graphic novel different from a trade paperback collection of a four or five issue arc?

At one time, the answer would have been that a graphic novel was liberated from the requirements of monthly serialisation.  Collections of single issues from the 1980s or even 1990s read like collections of single issues, dutifully pausing near around page 3 or 4 of every story to recap the plot for new readers.  But writing for the trade has become so commonplace, and the traditional aspects of serial storytelling have become so unfashionable, that the differences have largely been eroded.

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May 10

“That One Fella, He’s Trouble” – Savage Wolverine #18

Posted on Saturday, May 10, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

With this issue, Savage Wolverine drops its format of rotating creative teams with each arc, and brings us a standalone story by Jen Van Meter and Rich Ellis.  Van Meter’s a name I haven’t heard in quite some time – she’s best known for the Oni series Hopeless Savages, but that was a good while back.

Savage stories don’t have to take place in present day continuity, which gives the freedom to do stories set throughout the twentieth century.  That’s clearly something that attracts a lot of writers, and here we have another historical story.  It’s 1963, and there’s tension in a small town because the local bigots want to stop some people who aren’t white from going to a rally.  Logan is passing through and sorts it out.  Boil it down and that’s basically the plot.

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May 7

Origin II

Posted on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The first Wolverine Origin miniseries came out some twelve years ago, and time has not greatly altered my feelings about it.  In a nutshell, the nicest thing to be said about Origin is that it can be easily ignored, because although it ads some pointless complications to the character’s history, none of them seem to matter sufficiently to require mentioning again.  But of course, the very fact that it can be so easily ignored is testament to how ineffective it is as an origin story.

Kieron Gillen and Adam Kubert’s Origin II gestures towards keeping the tone of the earlier series, but fortunately doesn’t have to mess about with country house costume drama.  It also comes somewhat closer to functioning as an actual origin story, in as much as it takes Logan from an outcast living with wolves in the wilderness through to a status somewhat closer to the way we know him today.

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Apr 29

“Wrath” – Savage Wolverine #14-17

Posted on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

Let’s bring us up to date before the next wave of books comes out tomorrow.  (And yes, I’ve given up hope on ever getting round to Wolverine Max any time soon.)

The cover for issue #14 – officially, it’s #14.NOW, but let’s smile and nod and ignore that – is presumably joking with its strap line “From the master of noir, Richard Isanove, comes a thrilling new adventure”.  Isanove is best known as a colourist on books like OriginDark Tower and 1602; so far as I can recall, this is his first high-profile assignment as a writer or artist.

Still, you can see where the noir tag is coming from.

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Apr 27

“Rogue Logan” – Wolverine #1-4

Posted on Sunday, April 27, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

I seem to be slipping behind a bit.  So let’s take a quick look at this story, which finished last week.  (I’m going to skip the epilogue to the first Amazing X-Men arc, since, well, it’s an epilogue to a story I’ve already reviewed.)

Wolverine is one of the more dubious relaunches of the second wave of Marvel Now, featuring as it does exactly the same writer and no genuine fresh start.  Instead, this “new” series actually begins with the second phase of a storyline that started with… well, with the previous relaunch.

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Apr 21

“Not Brand X” – All-New X-Factor #1-6

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2014 by Paul in x-axis

The top ten hits for All-New X-Factor on Amazon UK:

  • The first trade paperback of this series, listed top.
  • One Direction: Forever Young – Our X-Factor Story.
  • The X Factor Party Box Karaoke Machine
  • A USB battery charger.
  • Rhydian’s self-titled album from 2008.
  • The official Harry Styles A5 writing pad.
  • A pair of leg warmers.
  • Dare to Dream: Life as One Direction (100% Official).
  • A wallet case for a Samsung Galaxy.
  • An Alexandra Burke car tax disc holder.  (Only £4.98, “top quality PVC”.)

Of these ten options, the trade paperback is your best bet.

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