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Apr 8

Excalibur #20 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 8, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #20
“No Pity From Your Friends”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1: Rogue, Captain Britain and Psylocke are menaced by Malice.

PAGES 2-5: Flashback – the origin of Malice.

Teenager Alice McAllister is found by her mother in her bedroom, having apparently committed suicide as threatened. The suggestion here is that Alice doesn’t actually commit suicide, but rather that her astral form spontaneously leaves her body, and that she chooses to stay that way rather than attempt to return. Quite why she leaves her body isn’t clear here, since there’s nothing obvious to trigger it. It might just be her powers emerging, though she’s a bit old for that.

Alice is wearing the familiar Malice choker when she comes in, though the art largely keeps it obscure, presumably to avoid spoiling where the scene is going. It’s visible in page 2 panel 3, though.


Apr 7

Marauders #19 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

“Fire & Ice”
by Gerry Duggan, Stefano Caselli & Edgar Delgado

COVER / PAGE 1. Kate, Callisto and Bishop, posing with the Marauders flag in a pile of junk.

Incidentally, it’s been seven weeks since issue #18 came out, which is an unusually long gap.

PAGE 2. Opening quote from Wolverine, in the “Patch” identity he uses in Madripoor. This is pretty standard stuff for Madripoor, though it’s obviously an exaggeration – Madripoor also has a steady supply of victims, and several Wolverine supporting characters wouldn’t really fit into this description. It’s maybe true of the sort of people Patch hangs around with, mind you.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits. One point worth clarifying: the Marauders’ instructions to stay out of Madripoor come from the Madripoor government with the backing of the United Nations, not from Krakoa.


Apr 5

X-Men Legends #1-2

Posted on Monday, April 5, 2021 by Paul in x-axis

“The Burning Blood”
by Fabian Nicieza, Brett Booth, Adelso Corona & Guru-eFX

So this is a strange little bit of counter programming. The X-books are the focus of attention at the moment in a way that they haven’t been in some years, but they’ve done it with a version of the X-Men that differs wildly from the traditional set-up. For those looking for something a bit more traditional, we now have the determinedly retro X-Men Legends – not merely a series telling stories set in the past, but a series in which past creators are invited to come back and tell stories set during their own runs.

The obvious way to kick off something like this would be to call up Chris Claremont. But then maybe not. Claremont has written tons of continuity implant stories over the years. Some of them (notably the Classic X-Men back-ups) are very good. But we’ve seen it before. Instead, X-Men Legends opens with a two-parter that seems to be targeted unapologetically at continuity geeks: Fabian Nicieza getting the chance to finish off his Adam X storyline from the mid-90s.


Mar 31

X-Men #19 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

X-MEN vol 5 #19
“Out of the Vault”
by Jonathan Hickman, Mahmud Asrar & Sunny Gho

COVER / PAGE 1. The Children of the Vault, being dramatic.

PAGE 2. Data page.

It’s been a while since we’ve had an issue which is quite so keen on the graphics. It’s perhaps not immediately obvious on this page, but the timeline runs from the top of the page to the bottom, so Synch is kind-of being presented as the central rock in this group.

PAGES 3-4. Wolverine, Synch and Darwin survive the explosion.

This is the aftermath of the explosion from the previous issue (this being a rare two-parter in Hickman’s X-Men). The narrator is Synch, as clarified later. The reasons for that become apparent at the end of the issue, as he’s presumably the only one of the trio to retain memories of this after the event.


Mar 28

The Incomplete Wolverine – 1985

Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2021 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 
1980 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984

When we left off, Wolverine had disappeared from the pages of Uncanny X-Men for a few months to be in another miniseries. And here it is…

6-issue miniseries
by Chris Claremont, Al Milgrom & Glynis Oliver
November 1984 to April 1985

There’s a lot of plot here, so deep breath…

The Pryde family’s bank is in trouble because it’s just too generous in lending to local businesses. Kitty’s father Carmen sells out to new Japanese owner Heiji Shigematsu, actually a Yakuza obayun who intends to use the business as a money-laundering front. Kitty tails her father to Japan to learn all this, and gets captured by Shigematsu’s supposed “intermediary”, Ogun. Ogun brainwashes her and trains her as a ninja. But before she was captured, Kitty phoned Logan, and he duly shows up in Japan looking for her. Logan and Yukio fight a masked ninja who, you guessed it, turns out to be Kitty. Yukio drugs Kitty and the heroes regroup at a Clan Yashida stronghold, where Kitty seems to return to normal.

Wolverine explains that Ogun was his sensei, that he may or may not be a legendary samurai, and that he has imprinted his psyche onto hers, either through magic or psi-powers. Eventually this Ogun personality will overwhelm her entirely. The suggestion is that Ogun is basically a psychic parasite / ghost that moves from host to host. Conveniently for the plot, Logan believes that Kitty can only defeat Ogun’s influence by beating it herself. Logan mentors and trains her, and puts her through the same drills as Ogun, but gives her more choice, so that she has to make the decision to press on.


Mar 25

Excalibur #19 annotations

Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR vol 4 #19
“Wild Violets”
by Tini Howard, Marcus To & Erick Arciniega

COVER / PAGE 1. A confrontation between Captain Britain and Psylocke.

PAGES 2-3. Captain Britain of Earth-13054 locates our Captain Britain.

Elspeth Braddock was among the horde of Captains Britain we saw in X of Swords: Destruction, but this is her first full appearance. She’s a sorcerer version of the character; we’re told that her “focused totality turned inward”, which refers to the late 80s tagline about Psylocke’s psionic knife being the “focused totality of her psionic powers”. Earth-13054 is home to a fantasy-genre version of the X-Men, and was seen in X-Treme X-Men vol 2 #2.


Mar 24

Cable #9 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

CABLE vol 4 #9
by Gerry Duggan & Phil Noto

COVER / PAGE 1. Cable and Esme share a drink in the Green Lagoon, while a woman with a logo for a head stands over them. Okay, it’s Emma and her head is actually off the top of the page… but it does look a little odd.

PAGE 2. Epigraph from an anonymous customer at the Green Lagoon, basically making the point that nobody really treats Kid Cable seriously. Partly that’s because he doesn’t have the gravitas and experience of the familiar version, but we’ve also seen before that Cable himself has serious doubts about whether he’s really up to the role that he’s taken on.

PAGES 3-5. Cable and Esme deal with an A.I.M. submarine.

As any longtime Marvel reader will know, these guys are from A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics), which is basically a group of scientists who want the world to be ruled by a scientific meritocracy (i.e., them). They’re serving here as generic walk-on villains.

Cable started this series dating all five of the Stepford Cuckoos – or perhaps just four of them, given that Phoebe is dating Quentin Quire – but we seem to have quietly settled down to just him and Esme. Back in issue #2, Esme is the one that Emma Frost singled out in her conversation with Cyclops. (“Do not let him [Cable] break their hearts, except Esme. She needs it, Scott.”) Emma’s reaction to Esme’s behaviour here should be seen in that light.


Mar 18

X-Force #18 annotations

Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

X-FORCE vol 6 #18
“Shadows of the Mind”
by Benjamin Percy, Garry Brown & Guru-eFX

COVER / PAGE 1.  Kid Omega… um, crying psychic energy, I suppose. Explosively.

PAGES 2-4. Black Tom is attacked.

Obviously, this is the psychic creature that XENO created using Kid Omega’s body. It’s not really clear to me how we’re meant to read this scene – whether Black Tom is cut off from part of Krakoa, or whether he’s connected to Krakoa but Krakoa can’t sense the psychic entity, or whether being unable to sense something on Krakoa has become something nightmarishly wrong for him.

The opening line, with Tom talking in his sleep, refers to his long-running partnership with Cain Marko, the Juggernaut. There are some stories that portray them as extremely close friends.

We’re told later on that the psychic entity’s attacks are tied to “the unguarded mind”, which usually means a strong emotional state. In Tom’s case, however, it seems to be just sleep.


Mar 17

S.W.O.R.D. #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

S.W.O.R.D. #4
“The Krakoan Sun”
by Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti & Marte Gracia

COVER / PAGE 1: Knull corrupting Cable. Yes, it’s still a King in Black tie-in.

PAGE 2. Cargill’s monologue.

Cargill is stuck inside Knull’s black symbiote goop stuff, following the previous issue. She experiences this as a sensory-deprivation void, which she’s trying to find a hook for. We can see on the next page that she’s not actually surrounded, so this must be some sort of mental effect that the symbiotes have.

When she says that “something stole Cable’s face”, she basically means that one of Knull’s symbiotes has taken him over.

PAGES 3-4. Symbiote Cable rants at Manifold.

Manifold addresses this character as Knull later in the issue, so we should presumably take it that Knull is speaking through the symbiote.


Mar 15

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood

Posted on Monday, March 15, 2021 by Paul in reviews, x-axis

November 2020 to March 2021

An anthology title! We haven’t had one of those in a while.

Marvel’s track record with anthology titles is patchy to say the least. X-Men Unlimited used to serve as the X-books’ anthology, and to put it politely, it was a mixed bag. But, different times. And in an age when the ongoing titles are tied into a big picture, perhaps there’s a gap for stories that are more freestanding.

Even so, Black, White & Blood seems uncertain about what it’s aiming for. The gimmick here is to tell Wolverine stories, drawn from any point in his history, but with the art in black and white with only red as colouring. So black, white and blood, you see.

And… is that a good idea? For a series?