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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.”

Oct 6

Marvel Comics Presents #1-9: “The Vigil”

Posted on Sunday, October 6, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, this went wrong. Marvel Comics Presents was a format that worked in the eighties and nineties – the original run made it to issue #175 – but the market is no longer so friendly to anthologies. Marvel put some well known creators on this book, and put a Wolverine story in the lead slot – at a time when the character had only just returned from a lengthy (if largely notional) absence. But here we are, cancelled after issue #9.

That’s particularly awkward since Soule’s original announcement of this storyline described it as a twelve-parter. The final issue is extended, but it still seems to have lost some pages along the way.

Oct 5

New Mutants: War Children

Posted on Saturday, October 5, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel’s 80th anniversary celebrations have spawned quite a few retro one-shots, ranging from the straightforwardly nostalgic to the barely fathomable. You certainly can’t dismiss it as a pure cash grab – nobody publishes a Ziggy Pig & Silly Seal one-shot because they expect it to rake in the profits.

One of the more welcome one-shots – for readers of a certain age, at any rate – is New Mutants: War Children, which reunited Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz for what amounts to a missing New Mutants Annual. Claremont and Sienkiewicz never did an annual during their run – New Mutants Annual #1 has a Sienkiewicz cover, but he didn’t do the interior art. So if you’re going to revisit a very specific run, this is certainly the way to do it.

Oct 3

House of X #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post is full of spoilers, and page numbers are according to the digital edition. This is the final issue of House of X, but I’ll be reviewing it and Powers of X together once both are complete, since they’re functionally a single book.

COVER (PAGE 1): Storm, Emma Frost and Exodus, on Krakoa, with Storm apparently addressing an audience. There are more people watching from the balconies in the background.

PAGE 2: The epigraph simply has Professor X proclaiming an imperfect but good start. That applies not just to his plan with Krakoa, but to the Hickman run in general – House of X is more of an extended prologue to establish the Krakoan status quo than it is a story in itself. The line comes from the Council meeting scene later in the issue.

PAGES 3-7: One month ago, Professor X dons the Cerebro helmet and makes his speech to humankind – the one that he gave shortly before issue #1.

Oct 1

Wolverine Annual #1: “Acts of Evil”

Posted on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

It’s not all Jonathan Hickman! I mean, it’s mostly Jonathan Hickman, to be sure. But there were a smattering of other X-books out last week, miles off to the side of anything that might impinge on current continuity.

First up is this year’s Wolverine Annual #1, because this is Marvel, and you have to explain which Wolverine Annual #1 you mean. There have been four this century, only one of which was followed by Wolverine Annual #2. If you’re into legacy numbering, then by my count this is actually Wolverine Annual #10, although that’s over a 24 year period, which isn’t especially annual. And I couldn’t even be confident about that because it’s so hard to search for them.

Sep 26

Powers of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers refer to the digital edition.

COVER (PAGE 1): Mister Sinister stands over some of the eggs from which cloned mutants are hatching. Once again, this is an odd choice of cover, since it has nothing to do with the issue (in which Sinister doesn’t appear).

PAGE 2: The epigraph is a very on-the-nose quote from Professor X saying that the real plan is something else entirely. Without context, it’s not clear who Xavier is referring to when he says that “they” will get it wrong, but Hickman’s run has been full of hints that all is not what it seems here. You’d expect Xavier to be referring to humans, but it could as easily be mutants…

PAGE 3: The credits. The title of this issue is “For The Children”, and Xavier has treated the X-Men – and mutants generally – in a very paternalistic way throughout Hickman’s run. But here, it’s a line of dialogue from Emma later on, when she decides to join Xavier’s plan. The small print reads “Once more I need three.” This might refer to the three back-up units that Xavier mentions in the next scene.

Sep 19

House of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

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

COVER (PAGE 1): Apocalypse walks through the reeds. Not much to do with the content, aside from the fact that this is where he enters the modern-day story – so far, we’ve only seen him in the future time frame of Powers of X.

PAGE 2: The epigraph sees Professor X stressing the differences between humans and mutants – very different from his traditional approach of emphasising the similarities.

Sep 13

Powers of X #4 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 13, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, there will be spoilers, and page numbers are going by the digital edition.

PAGE 1 (COVER): Professor X, wearing Cerebro, surrounded by the floating heads of various X-Men from the present and “Year 100” timelines. Most of them are recognisable, and perhaps the others are more of the “Sinister line” mutants from Year 100 (Rasputin and North are both there, for example). The solicitation version of this cover shows that the guy partly obscured by the logo is orange and has a fin on his head, so I’m drawing a blank there. None of this has anything much to do with the story inside.

PAGE 2: The opening epigraph is another Professor X quote, not taken from anything in the issue. The significance isn’t clear, beyond the obvious point about making difficult choices driven by need.