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Jun 6

All-New X-Men vol 7 – “The Utopians”

Posted on Saturday, June 6, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

The final volume of Brian Bendis’ All-New X-Men is a bizarre affair.  If you were expecting Bendis’ final volume to build to anything in particular, you’re going to be disappointed.  This grab-bag of stories feels more like somebody who’s running down the clock.  If anything, these stories – and their counterparts over in Uncanny – seem to be mainly concerned with setting things up for whatever comes after Secret Wars.

What you actually get in this volume is five rather random issues – a single issue story from issue #37, the Utopians two-parter from issues #40-41 (if that can really be called a story), and sandwiched between them, parts 4 and 5 of the thirteen-part “Black Vortex” crossover.  It’s hard to imagine that people reading the series in the trades will be thrilled about this, nor should they be.


May 24

Storm vol 2 – “Bring the Thunder”

Posted on Sunday, May 24, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Storm‘s second volume, covering issues #6-11, looks to be the end of the series – it could technically be a Secret Wars hiatus, but given the sales, I wouldn’t hold your breath.  This, of course, makes it only the latest in a long line of X-Men solo titles to go from launch to scrapheap within a year, an outcome which one can only assume Marvel regards as satisfactory, as otherwise they’d have stopped doing it.  The thinking, I suppose, must be that at least they know they’ll get a few months of acceptable sales out of a book like this.

Like many of the characters who wind up in these solo series, Storm was never designed to fill this role; she was conceived as a member of an ensemble cast.  More to the point, her roles in that cast have largely been “heart of the team”, “bonding mainstay”, and “emerging (later veteran) leader”.  None of this particularly suits her to be a solo lead, since all three roles define her largely in relation to her position in the team.


May 17

Spider-Man & The X-Men

Posted on Sunday, May 17, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

Once Marvel decided to kill off Wolverine, there were obvious knock-on effects for the other titles that he appeared in.  Of course, in most of those books, he basically stood in the background padding out the roster, so his disappearance wasn’t such a big deal.  For Wolverine and the X-Men, not so much.   That book was really about the X-Men’s students, not Wolverine – its name seems to reflect a conviction on Marvels part that the problem with books like Young X-Men was positioning them too explicitly as not proper X-Men titles – but still, he’s there in the title.

Throw in the fact that they only had six issues to pad out before Secret Wars – meaning that any sort of wider relaunch was going to be held off for a while to come – and you have a recipe for glaring filler.  And indeed, when solicitations appeared billing Spider-Man & The X-Men #1, you could pretty much hear the collective groan across the internet.


May 13

X-Men vol 5 – “Burning Earth”

Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

If you have four issues to fill before Secret Wars, plainly you could do a lot worse than call upon the services of G Willow Wilson, who’s been delivering on Ms. Marvel.  In fact, anyone looking for a Marvel Universe title to try could do a lot worse than Ms. Marvel.

As it turns out, though, G Willow Wilson can also do a lot worse than Ms. Marvel.  “Burning Earth” is not especially bad, but it’s safe to say that this is one to be filed in the Minor Works section of her bibliography.


May 4

Amazing X-Men vol 3 – “Once and Future Juggernaut”

Posted on Monday, May 4, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

(NB: This volume also covers the Axis tie-in and Annual #1, but we’ve covered them separately.)

As Secret Wars looms, and the second-tier X-Men books find themselves with an arc to kill before they get there, filler mounts.  Chris Yost isn’t even writing one of the stand-in Battleworld X-books, but here he is with “Once and Future Juggernaut”.

But for whatever reason – perhaps he’s carrying out an editorial remit, perhaps he just wanted to set something up for future writers to use – there’s actually a point to this one.  It’s an exercise in rehabbing (and re-setting) the Juggernaut, and to a lesser extent Colossus.


Apr 28

Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: Black Vortex

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 by Paul in x-axis

THE BLACK VORTEX!  Its cosmic tendrils bring corruption and devastation wheresoe’er they wind!

THE BLACK VORTEX!  Its thirteen chapters offer a glimpse into the abyss of eternity!

THE BLACK VORTEX!  Playing goth, industrial and darkwave; women enter free before midnight.

Once the X-books got to dominate crossovers, or even skip them entirely, but today things have changed.  And so here the X-Men find themselves as junior partners in a thirteen-part crossover that in fact only includes three X-books – All-New X-Men #38-39, and Cyclops #12.  The remainder of the story wends its way through two book-end one-shots, Guardians of the Galaxy #24-25, Legendary Star-Lord #9-11, Guardians Team-Up #3, Nova #28, and Captain Marvel #14.


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 Destiny back from the dead).  Fang, of all people, showed up to torment Wolverine’s rogue’s gallery.


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.


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.


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?