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Jan 20

All-New X-Men #14-16

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

Mmm.  I had it in mind that All-New X-Men #14-16 were a three parter.  And re-reading them, they kind of are, but they’re kind of not.  This is the tail end of a string of solo stories, which seemed to be on the one hand spotlight time for individual characters, and on the other a gentle subtext of the team falling apart the longer they spend in their new setting.

Issue #14 is basically Scott’s issue, even if Hank is lurking ominously in the background throughout.  Scott is still stuck at home with his leg in a cast, going stir crazy.  Probably this book’s best feature is Dennis Hopeless’s ability to find a different angle on the characters’ established traits by sticking them in a different context.  In Scott’s case, the workaholic obsessiveness that would have made him the X-Men’s ideal leader (or field leader, anyway) needs somewhere else to go, now that the antics of his older self seem to have debarred him from a leadership role.

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Jan 3

Old Man Logan #14-15: “Monster War”

Posted on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

So it turns out Old Man Logan isn’t cancelled after all, despite Marvel soliciting issue #18 as “The Epic Conclusion!”, which normally at least means a season break.  At least that explains why two issues were given over to this – it might come from the pen of regular writer Jeff Lemire, but it’s got filler written all over it.

A standard set-up for this book is to bring the future Logan into contact with the original supporting cast.  And that’s sort of how this one starts off, as Logan investigates the disappearance of Jubilee.  Somehow or other the X-Men already know she was last seen in Romania, so Logan goes there and promptly crosses paths with…

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Jan 1

All-New X-Men Annual 2016

Posted on Sunday, January 1, 2017 by Paul in x-axis

You’re probably expecting me to tell you that the All-New X-Men Annual is eminently skippable.  And I am, but not without some regret.

“Idie Goes On A Date” is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin story by Sina Grace and Cory Smith.  Grace has done things like the slice-of-life memoir Self-Obsessed, which came out through Image in 2015, so he’s an interesting choice for an X-Men annual.  What we actually get, as it turns out, is a story where Idie is hanging around at a mall reflecting on how hard it is to escape being an X-Man and just be normal, when she stumbles upon a nice boy and they wind up going on a date.  (more…)

Dec 27

Uncanny X-Men Annual 2016

Posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Technically that’s not the title.  Technically this thing is Uncanny X-Men Annual #1.  But Marvel’s annuals have come to embody Milk & Cheese‘s 1990s dream of a series composed entirely of issue #1s, so let’s call it something that’s actually vaguely informative instead.

The main story, “Balancing The Scales” by Cullen Bunn and Ken Lashley,  is pretty much just an extra issue of the regular series – and it does at least matter to the plot.

Josh Foley, who was bumped off in an earlier issue to build up the Dark Riders, is back from the dead, because of his healing powers.  He promptly heads off to Genosha to torture the Dark Riders (who were themselves killed by Magneto a few issues later) by raising them up and dropping them dead repeatedly.  Precisely how he knows that any of this happened or where to find the Dark Riders is, shall we say, less than clear.  Never mind.  Magneto’s X-Men duly show up to try and bring the erratic omega mutant under control.

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Dec 11

Old Man Logan vol 3: “The Last Ronin”

Posted on Sunday, December 11, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

I’ve complained before that Old Man Logan didn’t seem to be heading anywhere – it was going round in circles with Logan learning in one arc that he needed to stop trying to change his past, and in the next arc learning the exact opposite.  And with the series scheduled to end with issue #18, if it’s going to get to the point, it needs to get moving.

So it was somewhat encouraging that this arc showed signs of a much-needed direction.  The preceding arc was a story about Logan visiting Maureen – the girl who would grow up to be his future wife – intercut with flashbacks about how they had met in his own timeline.  And “The Last Ronin” continues that parallel structure, with flashbacks to what Logan and Maureen did next, intercut with a story about Logan meeting the same villains in the present day.

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Nov 25

Death of X

Posted on Friday, November 25, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Death of X is pretty wretched.  But at least it has the decency to be revealingly wretched.

When the Marvel Universe picked up again after Secret Wars, we were told that during the gap, Cyclops had got himself killed doing something fairly awful involving the Inhumans.  Death of X is tasked with filling in that gap, presumably to lay the groundwork for the upcoming Inhumans vs X-Men crossover (though how much it really adds is debatable).

The oddity of this crossover is that given the raft of X-Men titles already announced for launch in the new year, it rather gives the game away that the X-Men seem to be coming out ahead.  That doesn’t necessarily make the promotion a bad idea: sometimes it’s no bad thing to send a clear message that the storyline is coming to a climax.  If people didn’t like it until now, maybe at least they’ll show up to see it end.

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Nov 23

Deadpool v Gambit: The “V” Is For “Vs.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

I’ve certainly been putting this one off.  Deadpool v Gambit finished ages ago.  The trade paperback is out by now.  But time to get back into the rhythm.  There’s something a bit odd about reading American comics right now.  Comics have a long lead-in time.  They’re slow to react to big events.  And there has been a very big event indeed, one which won’t begin to feed through into actual comics until some time next spring.  In the meantime, everything feels a bit like reading Archie.  It’s a charming world of yesteryear, when things weren’t on fire yet.

No doubt I’ll be saying a lot more about this in the coming months, both here and on the podcast, as the achingly slow turning circle of comics finally orients itself to 2017.  But Deadpool v Gambit is not really a good place to get into this: not only did it come out entirely before the election, but it’s a bouncy, shaggy-dog story caper book with no political dimensions at all.

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Oct 20

Civil War II: X-Men

Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Oh, it’s one of those miniseries.  Event Crossover: Non-participating Series.  Never a dull moment with those.  Remember World War Hulk: X-Men?  Me neither.  I mean, I remember it existed, obviously.  Don’t remember a thing about it beyond that.  Imagine it probably had some Hulks.

Turns out, though, that this one isn’t quite such blatant filler as usual.  It’s written by Cullen Bunn, the regular writer of Uncanny X-Men.  It’s the first X-Men title since the relaunch to feature both Magneto’s and Storm’s teams with any sort of extended interaction.   It mildly advances the Magneto/Psylocke storyline in Uncanny (not that you’re missing anything).  And it’s bringing the Inhumans proper – rather than just the Terrigen Mists – into an X-Men book, to start the build for the upcoming Inhumans vs X-Men stuff.

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Oct 7

All-New Wolverine: Civil War II

Posted on Friday, October 7, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Even in their present depleted condition, the X-books still have a knack for skilfully sidestepping mega-crossovers.    Their contribution to Civil War II consisted of two books: an X-Men miniseries (which I’ll come to), and this storyline from All-New Wolverine #10-12.

With that in mind, I haven’t been reading Civil War II at all, so all I know about it is the general premise.  Fortunately, as tends to be the way with Marvel’s event crossovers, that’s really all you need to know for this arc.

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Sep 29

Extraordinary X-Men Annual #1

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2016 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel go through cycles with the annuals.  Sometimes they’re bonus extra-long issues of the regular title.  Sometimes they’re little mini crossovers off to the side somewhere.  Sometimes they’re quirky little one-shots that wouldn’t fit anywhere else.  And sometimes they’re basically a dumping ground for what would, in a former era, have been fill-in issues.

Extraordinary X-Men Annual #1 is pretty firmly in the last of those categories, or at least the lead story is.

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