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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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Sep 14

Weapons of Mutant Destruction

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

I’m way, way, way behind schedule on reviews at this point – this storyline is now two issues in the past – so time to start blitzing through the backlog.  “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” is a crossover, running through Weapon X #4-6 and Totally Awesome Hulk #19-22, with a lead-in one-shot on top of that.  Two of those issues are labelled as preludes, but it’s not altogether obvious why, since they’re both essential to the plot.

For a new series to hurl itself into an eight-part crossover with issue #4 is a strange choice.  The original Generation X series did something similar, because it was launched only four months before “Age of Apocalypse”, and it did no favours for the book’s momentum.  With Weapon X, it turns out to be less of a problem.  Partly, that’s because both titles are written by Greg Pak, even if the tone clash is pretty substantial.  Mainly, though, it’s because this is a continuation of the plot of Weapon X, guest starring the new Hulk, and taking over his book for four issues.  Hope the Hulk readers liked it.

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Aug 24

X-Men Gold #9: “Kitty Goes To Washington”

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

This came out two weeks ago.  It’s labelled as “Kitty Goes To Washington, Part 1”, which I figured meant there would be a part two.  But X-Men Gold #10 turns out to be “En’Kane, Part 1”.  So apparently issue #9 was “Kitty Goes To Washington, Part 1 of 1”.  So… okay then.  Let’s run through it.

In fact, these divisions aren’t as hard and fast as they once were.  Despite the story titles, Marc Guggenheim is writing X-Men Gold much more in the style of an 80s or 90s team book, with subplots fading in and out as they take their turn to come to the foreground.  So “Kitty Goes To Washington” actually starts and finishes with subplot pages setting up the return of Omega Red, which is the next arc.  Let’s leave them aside and worry about this one.

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Aug 21

X-Men Blue #7-9: Secret Empire

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

We should be grateful for small mercies, I suppose.  One such is that the X-books have largely managed to dodge the Secret Empire crossover – and X-Men Gold, which did a tie-in, largely ducked the event by using the side plot of Manhattan in the Dark Dimension (which it proceeded to largely ignore anyway).  X-Men Blue, in contrast, knuckles down to the difficult business of doing three issues engaging with the meat of Secret Empire.  It shouldn’t have bothered.

As we’ve discussed many times on the podcast, I have no particular issue with the premise of Captain America being remade as a Hydra spy by using a Cosmic Cube to retroactively change his upbringing.  The underlying ideas seem to be that fascism’s appeal lies in a twisted version of conventionally heroic notions (patriotism, sacrifice for the group and so on) and, to a lesser extent, the danger of abandoning checks and balances with anyone, no matter how seemingly infallible.  But those are ideas that seem like they want to play out on a smaller and more character-driven scale.

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Aug 18

Generations: Wolverine & All-New Wolverine

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Or Generations: The Best, if you prefer.  Which is a better title, and kind of sort of what it says on the cover, but I’ll go with the solicitations and the digital listings.

So, just like last week’s Phoenix one-shot, this is a story in which a legacy character from the present goes back in time for no adequately (or even inadequately) explained reason, and meets the original.  Sort of.  I guess Phoenix wasn’t really the original Jean Grey.  An earlier version, anyway.  If there’s an explanation for any of this time travel stuff, it’s presumably going to show up somewhere else, and (plot mechanics aside) it’s of no relevance to this story, so let’s set it to one side.

This is effectively an extra issue of All-New Wolverine, by regular writer Tom Taylor.  So that’s a good start.  At first glance, though, All-New Wolverine doesn’t lend itself to this format, because Laura has met the original Wolverine plenty of times.  They starred in X-Force together, for one thing.  What can you do with them?

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Aug 11

Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

What is Generations?   I partly know the answer, I guess.  It’s a series of one-shots in which “legacy” versions of characters meet earlier versions of themselves, and it’s meant to set up new directions, or something along those lines.  But as a story, what is it?  Does it even have a plot?

If you’re not following the wider series (I’m not), and you’re buying this simply because it’s effectively a Jean Grey special (I am), then the set-up here is curious to say the least.  The recap page has some cryptic stuff about “the Vanishing Point”, but what actually happens is that the present-day Jean Grey (the time travelling teenager) randomly finds herself in Claremont/Byrne X-Men during the period when Jean Grey was holidaying in Europe while she thought the X-Men were dead.  And then at the end of the issue she goes home.

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