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Feb 22

Return of Wolverine

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Return of Wolverine is a comic that exists to get a thing from A to B.  We all know that.  And everyone involved knows we all know that.  So what to do on the pages?

Charles Soule is a writer unusually willing to take on this sort of horrendous assignment – he was the one who killed off Wolverine in the first place, after all, not to mention the writer who tried his best to deliver on Marvel’s Inhumans fetish.  He can be very good when he’s writing something like Daredevil that doesn’t come with a ton of baggage attached.  On something like this, well, at least he tends to bring something wilfully eccentric to the exercise.

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Feb 19

Shatterstar

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Shatterstar, written by Tim Seeley and pencilled by Carlos Villa (with Gerardo Sandoval on the flashbacks), reads like a pilot for an ongoing series – it’s got a new status quo, and what sure looks like the core of a regular supporting cast.  It’s an endearingly eccentric take on the character, but also one that seems to have been instantly jettisoned, given the way he’s being used in X-Force.  So… welcome to the apocrypha.

This is Shatterstar, intergalactic landlord.  He’s seemingly retired from superhero-ing, he’s broken up with Rictor, and he’s the landlord of a building called Manor Crossing where all of his tenants are refugees from assorted obscure universes.  And they’re a weird bunch.

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Feb 3

Age of X-Man: Alpha

Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So here we are again, at the start of another event.  This is the set-up one-shot which leads in to no fewer than six minis – Marvelous X-MenNextGenAmazing NightcrawlerX-TremistsPrisoner X, and Apocalypse & The X-Tracts.  You know how these things work: a basic story that serves as an introduction to the world, and scenes which lead in to all of the individual minis, complete (for once) with footnotes telling you precisely where to go for the follow-up.  Which is appreciated, by the way.

The build to this story, over ten issue of Uncanny X-Men, was decidedly underwhelming, and left me approaching this issue with a sense of grinding duty.  But this is night and day.  “Disassembled” felt like a protracted exercise in getting the right characters into the right place (and not very organically at that), but Age of X-Man turns out to be going somewhere less obvious.

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Jan 27

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1: “The Return of Cyclops”

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, no messing around with that story title, is there?  Still, coming after the decidedly underwhelming “Disassembled” arc, this is more like it.  It’s no classic – there’s an unavoidable sense of a writer and his editors grabbing the story by the neck and yanking it into the desired position.  But on the flip side, it also brings a clear sense of what it’s trying to accomplish, and it gets there in a fairly satisfying and efficient way.  It does a rather better job than “Disassembled” of conveying a sense of purpose.

“The Return of Cyclops” is written by Ed Brisson, one of the X-books’ regular stable of writers, with strong art by Carlos Gomez.  It’s solid storytelling that adds to the scenes with some decent acting, and hopefully Marvel US will do more with him.  He does a particularly solid job with the young Cable, who comes across as annoyingly relaxed for much of the issue, something that plays nicely into the way he acts.  But the scene of the villain returning to his neglected lab after years in jail is also beautifully done.

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Jan 24

Uncanny X-Men #1-10: “X-Men Disassembled”

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

Well.

On paper, this looked okay.  New direction, weekly storyline.  Written by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson – they’re usually interesting writers.  Named after “Avengers Disassembled”, which was awful… but actually closer to the format of last year’s “Avengers: No Surrender”, which was pretty good.  Art by… well, the first issue is drawn by Mahmud Asrar, but mostly it’s the likes of Pere Perez, RB Silva and Yildiray Cinar, because it’s a weekly and it needs a team.  Still, it sounded quite promising on paper.

And here it is, and it’s kind of meh.

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Jan 11

Iceman #3-5

Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

The idea of Sina Grace and Nathan Stockman’s Iceman tends to be better than the reality, which is a frustrating mix of the subtly executed, and the crashingly heavy handed.  I covered the first two issues of this series a while back, and here we get what amounts to a third issue which broadly stands alone, followed by the big drawing together of threads to… mixed results.

#3 has a lot of what this book does well.  It’s Bobby as the X-Man with a foot in the real world.  He’s dating, he’s at a street food festival in Manhattan.  Spider-Man and Firestar are there too, with their own dates.  And honestly, I’m more interested in seeing these characters do normal things for a bit.  Well, not so much Spider-Man, who actually does normal things quite often – but it’s a nice change of pace for the X-Men.  Stockman’s good on the setting and largely decent on his conversation scenes, though he does lapse into fixed grins from time to time.

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Jan 10

Domino #7-10: “Soldier of Fortune”

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

On the heels of the strikingly abrupt final issues of Weapon X, “Soldier of Fortune” is something suspiciously similar – a four part story which comes in two barely connected halves, and which seems to go into fast forward in its final issue.  I don’t know what was going on here, but this is another story that certainly reads as if the book was abruptly cancelled and went into aggressive wrap-up mode.

Except… Domino returns as a five-issue miniseries in March, with precisely the same creative team.  So… what the heck?  A last-minute reprieve after they’d already committed to the wrap-up?  An inexplicable attack of madness?

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Jan 6

Mr & Mrs X #6 – “King & Queen”

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

So this is the previous issue of Mr & Mrs X – issue #7 was out this week – but I was figuring it was an opening chapter of something, and it turns out that it isn’t.

As promised in issue #5, this is Rogue and Gambit’s… well, apparently it’s a “belated engagement party”, though it’s basically a flatwarming.  Either way, this is what you want from a Rogue and Gambit series; I can understand why the first arc packed them off into space, if only to get them away from the rest of the X-Men, but mainly I’m here to see them be domestic.  That’s the interest here, surely?  That’s what we want to know if they can actually do?

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Dec 30

Weapon X #22-27: “Weapon X-Force”

Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Weapon X was quietly cancelled through the age-old technique of just not soliciting any more issues; the final issue has no farewell message, at least not in the digital version, but simply the word “End” in the corner of the final panel.  And this final arc, which introduces a new team line-up under the “Weapon X-Force” name, then lurches through two largely unrelated chunks of plot, reads very much like an aborted new direction that was intended to run for longer.  Whether that’s the case, I can’t know for sure – but it reads like it, which is ultimately what matters.

The new line-up, clad unflatteringly in Sabretooth’s black and orange colour scheme, are Sabretooth himself, Mystique, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Domino (the only one of these characters who would normally be considered to qualify for any variety of “good guy”, but in this company largely because she’s amoral).  As set up in previous arcs, the idea here is that the ailing Logan has steered Sabretooth in the direction of running this new team, which may or may not keep him out of trouble, depending on what sort of jobs his mercenary crew chooses to take on.

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Dec 27

Extermination

Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The thinking behind Extermination might be called haphazard.  This is the story where the time-travelling original X-Men finally get removed from the board – they’re sent back to the Silver Age and the reset button is duly pressed, save that their adult counterparts now remember everything that happened while they were in the present.  The practical significance of this is surely limited, given that their adult counterparts already know the general thrust of what they’ve been up to – it feels like more of a gesture of goodwill that, honestly, this all amounted to something.

But the obvious question is: why is this appearing as a separate miniseries written by Ed Brisson, rather than the final arc of Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue?  Isn’t that the natural place to do this story?

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