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Nov 14

X-Men #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

I don’t plan to do every issue of the satellite books – certainly not in weeks when more than one book is coming out. But let’s stick with the core title. As always, page numbers are from the digital edition, and this post contains spoilers.

COVER / PAGE 1. Cyclops, Prestige and Cable fighting horrible monsters. A scene which actually takes place in the issue!

PAGE 2. Cyclops enlists Prestige and Cable to investigate a mysterious new island full of monsters which is heading towards Krakoa.

“Kids.” As you almost certainly know, Cable is Cyclops’s actual son, who grew up in the far future and returned as… well, it used to be an adult, but now it’s a teenager. Prestige (Rachel Summers) is the daughter of Cyclops and Phoenix from the Days of Futures Past timeline, so her father is a Cyclops, but not actually this Cyclops. She’s never been all that close to Scott in this timeline, and fell out with him rather badly at one point over his relationship with Emma Frost. But evidently she’s up for being a member of the Summers family these days.

Nov 13

Fallen Angels #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are for the digital edition.

FALLEN ANGELS. The original Fallen Angels was a much-liked eight-issue miniseries from 1987-88, in which Sunspot and Warlock run away from the New Mutants and wind up on a team of misfits under the charge of the Vanisher, including Siryn, Madrox, and a bunch of characters rarely seen since. This was back in the days when X-minis were still uncommon enough to be a big deal. This series has no obvious connection with the original, beyond reusing a nice name.

COVER / PAGE 1. The cast in Tokyo.

PAGES 2-5. A young Apoth user seizes control of a Tokyo underground train and crashes it.

We’ll learn more about Apoth later in the issue – including its name – but it’s pretty clear that it’s the device which the girl places on her head, and which apparently gives her powers. We’ll also find out at the end of the issue that the girl seen here is Kwannon’s long-lost daughter. Again, more of that later.

Nov 7

New Mutants #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are for the digital edition.

THE NEW MUTANTS: This is, technically, the fourth volume of New Mutants. The first is the original series which ran from 1983 to 1991 and featured the X-Men’s junior team. The second ran from 2003-4 and featured one of the trainee classes from the Morrison-era school – it’s the one that introduced characters like Elixir and Hellion. Volume 3, a reunion of the original team, ran for 50 issues between 2009 and 2012 (very few of which, to be honest, have stuck in the mind).

There’s also a few minis, all of which also feature versions of the original line-up. The launch of New Mutants in 1983 was effectively the point where the X-Men became a franchise. It’s interesting that this is the X-book that gets its opening arc co-written by Jonathan Hickman, along with regular writer Ed Brisson – though it’s this week’s X-Force that gets the deluxe edition treatment and seems to have the more important plot points. Hickman previously wrote both Cannonball and Sunspot in his Avengers run which, to be honest, I still haven’t read. Hickman’s idiosyncratic style of emphasis is quite noticeable in this issue’s dialogue.

Nov 6

X-Force #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are from the digital edition. And really, this does contain spoilers.

X-FORCE: This is the sixth volume of X-Force. The first ran from 1991 to 2002 and covered the adventures of the New Mutants after Cable restructured them into a more paramilitary group (and then turned into X-Statix near the end). The second was a six-issue reunion mini from 2004-5. The third is the Kyle/Yost run from 2008-10, where X-Force was reused as the name for the X-Men’s black ops unit during the Utopia era; it was followed by another 35 issues as Uncanny X-Force. Volume 4 was the Marvel Now version from 2014-15 (the Si Spurrier book with Cable, Psylocke, Fantomex and the like). And the fifth volume is the run with the teen Cable that came immediately before House of X.

The running theme in all this is that “X-Force” tends to be attached to an X-Men spin-off team which is either a black ops unit or takes a more paramilitary approach to matters than the regular X-Men. This first issue, however, doesn’t actually feature an X-Force team at all, or even many characters doing anything particularly X-Force-like. Presumably all that emerges over the course of the first arc. But it does take a much grimmer tone than any of the other Krakoa-era books.

Nov 4

Dead Man Logan #7-12: “Welcome Back, Logan”

Posted on Monday, November 4, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

We may be comfortably into the Krakoa-era X-Men, but here’s one last book wrapping up from the previous era. Dead Man Logan may be billed as a twelve issue miniseries, but in practice it’s the final two arcs of Ed Brisson’s run on Old Man Logan, with art from the excellent Mike Henderson.

Old Man Logan is a problem character for the X-books. As a diversion for a few issues, which is how Mark Millar introduced him, he worked well enough – there was plenty about the Wastelands that was absurdly over the top, it being a Mark Millar comic and all, but the basic engine of the ageing western hero worked well for Logan. As a character brought back to the present day… well, it depends what angle you look at it from.

Oct 31

Excalibur #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers are from the digital edition.

EXCALIBUR: This is the fourth volume of Excalibur. The first volume ran from 1988 to 1998 and featured a British-based superhero team initially made up of Captain Britain, Meggan and some X-Men who had been separated from the main team (Shadowcat, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers / Phoenix). It tended to go in for lighter antics than the rest of the X-books. The second volume is a largely-forgotten four-issue reunion miniseries from 2001. The third ran for 14 issues in 2004-5, and involved Professor X rebuilding in the ruins of post-massacre Genosha; aside from being an X-book, it really has no connection with the previous series. There’s also New Excalibur, another UK-based team, which ran for 24 issues in 2006-7.

This version of Excalibur features no members of the previous teams; the connection lies in Psylocke, Captain Britain’s sister.

COVER / PAGE 1: The team pose for us. Left to right, that’s Gambit, Jubilee, Apocalypse, Psylocke / Captain Britain II, Rictor (who doesn’t appear in the story) and Rogue. The background seems to be Krakoa, but in the foreground is what looks like the Otherworld scrying pool from the issue.

Oct 24

Marauders #1 – annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 24, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

As always, this post features spoilers, and page numbers are based on the digital edition. And no, I’m not planning to do these for every issue of all the new titles, but the first issues of each seem worth a look.

MARAUDERS: It’s first time we’ve had a series of this title. In the context of the X-Men, the Marauders are Mr Sinister’s henchmen, who first appeared in Uncanny X-Men vol 1 #210 (1986) and committed the mass murder of the Morlocks. The original Marauders – or a bunch of them, at any rate – were last seen in Uncanny X-Men vol 5 #18 (2019), where they all died fighting the X-Men. In the meantime, this book seems to have no connection to the team whose name is clearly being evoked, and going back to the literal sense of marauding, which would fit with the piracy angle (though not so much the rescuing bit).

COVERS: The regular cast on their boat (whether they’re actually aboard it in this issue or not).

Oct 17

X-Men #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2019 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

X-MEN: This is the fifth volume of just-plain-X-Men, although confusingly the legacy numbering continues from the last run of Uncanny X-Men.

COVER (PAGE 1): The residents of the Summers House (plus the visiting Corsair) in the Blue Area of the Moon. More of that inside.

PAGES 2-3: A flashback to Charles Xavier giving Scott Summers a pair of ruby quartz glasses to control his optic beams. It’s a metaphor for Xavier giving Scott the confidence to embrace what makes him superhuman, of course – plus, there’s a parallel being drawn with the leader of Orchis, Killian Devo, but we’ll come to that. Scott’s visor can be seen sitting on a stand in the corner of the room.

Oct 14

House of X / Powers of X

Posted on Monday, October 14, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

But is it any good?

Pretty much everyone would agree that the X-books needed a shot in the arm. House of X and Powers of X are certainly that. People are talking again, in a way that they haven’t been talking in years. Not only that, they’re talking about the plot. Jonathan Hickman has begun his X-Men run by bringing out the high concept ideas from the off – Moira’s multiple lives, the mutant island of Krakoa, the apparent immortality through back-up copies – and for the most part, people have bought it. In both senses of the word. So, as an opening arc, job done. Nothing in the X-Men has produced this sort of reaction since the start of the Grant Morrison run, back in 2001.

A book like this is inevitably going to divide the audience to some degree. For one thing, it’s very different in tone and focus, which means it’s not necessarily what attracted some readers to the X-books in the first place. And more fundamentally, this is the sort of story where you either trust that it’s heading somewhere, or you don’t – and if you don’t, you won’t be having much fun with this. But so far, for the most part, Hickman seems to have kept people on board.

Oct 10

Powers of X #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition. This is the final issue of Powers of X, and an actual review of both series will follow later.

COVER (PAGE 1): Moira standing over a pile of dead mutants on Krakoa. This includes characters from the “Year 100” timeline, so it’s evidently symbolic. The flowers resemble cherry blossom, traditionally a symbol of life’s ephemeral nature.

PAGE 2: The epigraph quotes Professor X: “And now we build.”

PAGE 3: The credits. The title is “House of X”; the small print reads “When they learn the truth.”