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Dec 8

Iceman #6-7 – “Champions Reunited”

Posted on Friday, December 8, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Yes, I know issue #8 is out now, but it’s a totally different story.  So let’s cover this two-parter quickly.

The Marvel Legacy remit requires this to have something to do with past continuity.  As it happens, that works out quite well, because what Sina Grace mainly wants to achieve in these two issues is to give Iceman a reason to quit the X-Men and move to Los Angeles so that his series can go its own way.  That’s fair enough; if he’s going to anchor his own title, there’s a lot to be said for prising him away from the team.  And it fits with the book’s general theme of Bobby trying to establish a new social life for himself outside the X-Men.

Fortunately, old continuity provides a perfectly serviceable reason for Iceman to visit Los Angeles, because apparently Black Widow is dead this week (Secret Empire or something – it really doesn’t matter), which is a good enough reason for Iceman to attend a Champions reunion.  That’s the sum total of the continuity callbacks in these two issues, which is fine. The other Champions get plenty to do, even if most of it is acting as a collective sounding board for Bobby, but there’s no need to descend into any of the detailed history, and the story wisely avoids doing so.

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Dec 3

Old Man Logan #25-30: “Days of Anger”

Posted on Sunday, December 3, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Stories like “Days of Anger” come along every so often – stories which seem to be competent, properly paced, sensibly constructed, and generally solid, yet manage to fill six issues without ever appearing to be about anything in particular.  They always leave me with the nagging sense that I’m probably missing something, since there’s no denying that effort has gone into them.  But eventually I’m forced to concede defeat and conclude that the good-looking parts haven’t added up to anything.

This is the first arc for the new creative team of Ed Brisson and Mike Deodato.  Brisson’s not familiar to me, but he’s written some well-received indie books.  Deodato is the workhorse he always was; not always exciting but generally a sound storyteller, which is what we get here.  He’s from the school of artists who barely try to make Logan look old, but his heavy use of screentone certainly gives the book a distinctive feel.

Given that the original Wolverine is back in circulation following Marvel Legacy, taking over Old Man Logan feels like a thankless task – there’s a definite sense that we’re just counting down the months until the inevitable return of the real thing.  But in the meantime, “Days of Anger” starts off with what seem like sensible enough ideas.

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Nov 26

Generation X #3-9

Posted on Sunday, November 26, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

We are distressingly far behind on Generation X, so you’ll forgive me if I crash through a bunch of issues in one go in order to catch up.  These aren’t a single storyline – in fact, it’s pretty much four stories.  But at the same time, Generation X is settling into a teen soap mode, with different characters taking turns in the driving seat.  So maybe it’s for the best to look at them in the round, since of this batch, only issue #4 really operates like a team book.

In fact, despite the title, and the continuing appearance of characters from the original Generation X (Husk shows up in these issues, to join Chamber and Jubilee), there’s no actual Generation X team here.  What there is is Jubilee’s school class, who have been singled out as the kids who probably aren’t going to make it as X-Men and will have to be gently channelled into some other sort of productive life, if only anyone could think of what that might be.  They don’t even get costumes, just school uniforms.

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Nov 16

All-New Wolverine #22-24: “Hive”

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

The backlog needs hammered through, so let’s knock this one off quickly.

This is something of an extended coda to the previous storyline, in which a space virus infected Roosevelt Island and Laura saved the day because her healing powers conveniently let her absorb and kill the virus.  That still leaves the stray plot thread of why a girl plummeted to earth with a space virus asking for Laura in the first place.  Since the alien girl died of the virus, Laura can’t simply ask her.  And so Laura and Gabby head into space with the Guardians of the Galaxy to retrace her steps and find out what was going on.  In other words, it’s a three-issue team-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Nov 8

Jean Grey vol 1: “Nightmare Fuel”

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Jean Grey has been around since 1963 and has never previously had a solo series.  Given Marvel’s enthusiasm for X-Men spin-offs, this can be a bad sign about the character’s suitability to carry a solo title.  And we’ll get to that.  But I like this book.  Issue to issue, it’s been good fun; it works in the format of largely self-contained stories all helping to advance a bigger picture.  And despite a barrage of different artists, it’s good to look at.

But at the same time there are some niggles and some odd choices – this is practically Jean Grey Team-Up, and sometimes that feels forced.

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Oct 21

Cable vol 1: “Conquest”

Posted on Saturday, October 21, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I have given quite some thought to this story, trying to work it out.

I mean, I follow it.  I follow it just fine.  It’s simple.  There’s a thingummy called the Time Sword which is desperately powerful, and it’s been split into five parts which are scattered through time.  A baddy called Conquest is trying to collect the pieces, so that he can re-create the Time Macguffin and use it to control reality.  Cable is chasing after him.  So we get a bunch of time jumps where Cable visits various eras, and each time Conquest has been there before him, and there are a bunch of local goons with futuristic technology for Cable to fight.  After a while Cable meets up with an Incan priest (who has a load of Eternal technology, unrelated to Conquest) and finds out where the other two pieces are.

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Oct 12

Iceman vol 1: “Thawing Out”

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Brian Bendis has a tendency to leave undeveloped ideas in his wake, and in an era where incoming writers tend to treat their first issue as a fresh start, those undeveloped ideas tend to stay that way.  But deciding that a character who’s been around since the 60s is actually gay is the sort of thing that has to be followed up.

And it has been, for the most part, in All-New X-Men and latterly in X-Men Blue.  But that’s the teenage version who travelled through time; we also have the original, who’s had rather less attention.  Sensibly enough, that’s the version used by Sina Grace and Alessandro Vitti.  Grace is an interesting choice; as a creator, he’s mainly known for autobiographical indie books, but he was also an editor for Robert Kirkman titles like Invincible.

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Oct 5

X-Men Blue #10-12: “Toil and Trouble”

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

With Secret Empire out of the way, X-Men Blue returns to its storylines in progress.  We’re not quite pretending here that Secret Empire didn’t happen; the plot point of Scott and Jean’s mental link remains, and gets followed up.  But quite how it came about, we’re not talking about.  The really awkward stuff, it seems, we’re just going to ignore.  It’s the “No Man’s Land” solution, as I suspected.

So instead, this is mainly a Beast story, as Cullen Bunn continues to follow up the storyline established by Dennis Hopeless on All-New X-Men about Hank’s dabbling in the occult.

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Oct 1

X-Men Gold #12 – “Kologoth”

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

May as well knock this one off quickly, and get up to date with X-Men Gold.  There’s an issue to spare before a crossover with X-Men Blue (which gets a couple of pages of set-up in the epilogue, but we’ll worry about that another time).  So this is the origin story of Kologoth.

Kologoth is the mystery new guy who showed up in the mind-controlled Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the first couple of issues, and later turned out to be an alien.  One of the things which Marc Guggenheim has done reasonably well in this series is laying the groundwork for his subplots and checking in on them periodically; the book has taken its time building up the character before putting him in the foreground.

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Sep 27

X-Men Gold #10-11 – “En’Kane”

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

My initial optimism for this relaunch is starting to fade.  It’s not the direction.  That still feels like a sensible back-to-basics retrenching with enough changes to avoid outright retread.  It’s the stories that are being told within that framework, which feel lacklustre.  The “En’Kane” two-parter is a case in point.

It goes like this.  Colossus gets a phone call – apparently you can just phone up the X-Men and ask to speak to them, and I guess if they’re running a school there ought to be a public phone number, so okay – from somebody claiming to be his previously unmentioned uncle Anatoly.  Peter has never heard of him, but Anatoly basically says that’s because he was the black sheep of the family.  This is all established in some fairly terrible dialogue – the whole thing is in italics, which seems to be intended to indicate “speaking in Russian”, but Anatoly is still saying things like “In Russia, I am criminal.”  He’s holding a copy of Pravda, depicted as some sort of magazine; it’s actually a broadsheet newspaper.  So we’re off to a good start.

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