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Jun 6

X-Men Red Annual #1

Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Or, as the logo has it, Annual X-Men Red.  I haven’t actually reviewed the first arc of X-Men Red yet, because it’s still going.  But this turns out to be a sensible place to start, because it’s a transition issue by regular writer Tom Taylor that bridges the gap from Phoenix Resurrection #5 to X-Men Red #1.  It’s the connective tissue that gets Jean Grey in place for the start of the series, shunted off into an annual to stop it bogging down those early issues.

Let’s start with the art.  It’s… well, it’s got its problems.  Pascal Alixe has been around for a while, though it’s been getting on for twenty years since he did anything on the X-books.  He’s a pro.  And page one looks nicely dramatic.  He does a really nice firebird for the Phoenix.  Once we get into the story proper, though, things get a bit clumsier.

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Jun 4

Legion: “Trauma”

Posted on Monday, June 4, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Given the success of the Legion TV series (which I’ve never actually seen), it’s unsurprising that Marvel would figure that a Legion mini made sense.  Except of course that the Legion TV show is on FX, as part of the X-Men rights package, to which Marvel’s attitude in recent years has been… whatever the opposite of corporate synergy is.  That.

X-Men: Legacy ended with Legion more or less wiping himself from history, which is not an ideal starting point.  Legion deals with that little problem by ignoring it entirely.  On the other hand, there’s nothing to stop you plugging it into history as a flashback story if you want, so let’s run with that.

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May 29

Old Man Logan #39-40 – “Glob Loves, Man Kills”

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Old Man Logan must surely be on its way to publishing graveyard, most likely by killing off its imminently redundant lead character.  From this book’s point of view, you might have thought it would make sense to tie him into the real Wolverine’s return; but in the bigger picture, the spare Wolverine is better kept to the margins, so that the return of Wolverine can feel a bit more returnish.

So we’re getting time-marking stories like this, in which Logan returns to the Xavier Institute to have his health problems checked out, and happens to be around for a two-part Glob Herman story.  Glob is one of those students who’s been around for years because the visual is so strong, but rarely gets much to do besides being a recognisable background figure.  Here, he’s going on a date.

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May 27

All-New Wolverine #33-35 – “Old Woman Laura”

Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The final All-New Wolverine story comes at an awkward time.  It’s a wrap-up for a series that doesn’t really want to wrap up.  After all, Tom Taylor had only just introduced what appeared to be a new status quo, with Laura helping her former victims to hunt down the people who hired her back when she was an assassin.  And he’s still writing both Laura and Gabby over in X-Men Red.  But this is the end of All-New Wolverine, before it relaunches next month as X-23, and since Taylor’s run on the book has been one of the high points of the X-books in recent years, some sort of farewell is called for.

The solution is something of a symbolic finale, as the book simply jumps a generation or so into the future, to offer its version of the “one last mission” story.

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May 22

X-Men: The Wedding Special

Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

What would a superhero wedding be without a skippable anthology one-shot?  Not that this lead-in to the wedding of Peter and Kitty is that bad, though it certainly features some very odd choices; but its very status as an ancillary set-up to a story in a fortnightly comic makes it completist fodder.

There are three stories here – a bachelor party for Peter and a hen night for Kitty, plus an opening story written by Chris Claremont.  “The Dream Before” is presumably here to provide the link with X-Men tradition, and to endorse the marriage as part of a long and storied history.  It’s very Claremont indeed, with narrative captions in quantities that would have seemed heavy even at his peak, but “very Claremont indeed” is precisely what the remit calls for.

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May 20

Rogue & Gambit

Posted on Sunday, May 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Sometimes I regret that Marvel doesn’t just run a single weekly X-Men title and cycle in different creative teams for each arc.  It seems like a better vehicle for something like Rogue & Gambit, which deserves more than to be dismissed as a side miniseries.  (Also, between Gold, Blue, Red and Astonishing, two of which are biweekly, Marvel currently produces more than one X-Men title a week, so combining them into a single book would require some welcome restraint.)

This five-issue miniseries is written by Kelly Thompson, which is something of a catch for the X-office.  I’m less familiar with artist Pere Pérez; judging from his bibliography, he’s been around forever without making a huge impact on me.  But teamed with Frank D’Armata on colours, he’s done some very good work here; classic-looking superhero stuff, but with strong character beats and an ability to keep hordes of Rogues and Gambits from different points in their histories distinct.

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May 3

Hunt for Wolverine

Posted on Thursday, May 3, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Wolverine’s return was the great climax of the Marvel Legacy one-shot.  And that was last September.

Now, over six months later, Marvel finally gets around to the follow-up.  Yes, I gather there’s been some “where’s Wolverine” pages at the back of various comics, but they don’t make it into any of the digital editions, presumably because Marvel are classing them as glorified house ads.  Rightly so, by all accounts.  But with Hunt for Wolverine, Charles Soule – who killed off Wolverine in the first place – does the set-up work for a bunch of parallel miniseries that are going to bring him back again.

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Apr 30

Weapon X #15-16: “Happy Birthday, Old Man Logan”

Posted on Monday, April 30, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Have I mentioned – I think I may have done once or twice – that I didn’t greatly care for Axis?  You remember Axis.  It was the crossover back in 2014 where people had their moral compass “inverted” so goodies became baddies and vice versa.  And that’s fine as a bit of short-term gimmickry, but Marvel decided to leave some of the characters like that permanently.

So four years later, Havok and Sabretooth are still kind-of-sort-of inverted.  They had a go at an ongoing series with an inverted Iron man too, but unless I’m very much mistaken, that one just kind of petered out without a proper resolution.

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Apr 19

X-Men Gold #23-25: “Cruel & Unusual”

Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

I’m late with this one, but that’s what I get for trusting the solicitations, which insist that “Cruel & Unusual” is a three-parter.  It certainly seemed to have finished with issue #25, but you never know, do you?

So this is the prison story, which is a somewhat interesting idea.  If you’re going to plonk the X-Men in Central Park then one side effect of that should be that the team get to deal with the authorities a lot more directly than when they just hid out in upstate New York and tried not to get noticed.  So there’s some mileage in a story about the X-Men knowing they’re innocent, but recognising that the police have sensible reasons for arresting them, and deciding that they’d better play by the rules.  It’s not how the X-Men are used to working.

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Apr 17

Old Man Logan #36-38: “Moving Target”

Posted on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

With Wolverine Classic on his way back imminently, Old Man Logan seems to be marking time.  You might have expected it to be building to some sort of conclusion, but instead it seems to be settling into a run of relatively normal Wolverine-style stories.  That’s probably not ideal in the bigger picture – what’s the big deal of Wolverine returning if we’ve got Wolverine stories right here? – but at least it results in a comic which is perfectly okay on its own terms.

In search of a Marvel Universe hook that can somehow link back to Logan’s back story, Ed Brisson and Dalibor Talajić’s story settles on the Kingpin’s election as mayor of New York.  This actually seems more like a story that X-Men Gold should be doing, since that’s the book about the X-Men squatting in Central Park and having to deal with the local authorities.  It’s a bit more tenuous in Old Man Logan, which makes a token effort by suggesting that maybe this is how the villain takeover starts in our timeline, and then largely not pondering it again.  There’s also quite a bit about New Yorkers’ newfound antagonism towards superheroes in general, but that’s hardly new territory for the X-books.

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