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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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Mar 20

All-New Wolverine #32 – “The Orphans”

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

“Orphans of X” seemed to end by setting up a new status quo for All-New Wolverine, with Laura helping the Orphans of X to take revenge on the assorted baddies who hired her back when she was a brainwashed child.  But with writer Tom Taylor leaving the book after the next arc, which seems to be a time travel thing, this issue looks like a nod to what that direction would have been.  Maybe not; we’ll see where the next creative team are going.  (Though rebranding the book as X-23 again seems an unfortunate backwards step.)

The Orphan of the Month is Amber, whose father was killed when little Laura was sent to kill a presidential candidate.  He wasn’t the politician, he was a guard on his first day in the new job.  Since the Orphans have access to the Facility’s files, Laura identifies the baddy – and this is sketchy stuff, by the way, because we’ve only got an issue.  Chad Newman was a lobbyist for the far right, and he wanted the politician killed because he “was concerned about possible corruption and was determined to weed it out”.

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Mar 19

X-Men Blue / Venom: Poison-X

Posted on Monday, March 19, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There must be people out there somewhere who can summon up enthusiasm for a five-part crossover between X-Men Blue and Venom.  I am not one of them.  I rather envy them their sunny optimism.  It must make the world a more cheering place.

Specifically, “Poison-X” runs through X-Men Blue Annual #1, X-Men Blue #21-22, and Venom #162-163 (which pretty much reduces the Annual to issue #20-and-a-half).  You may be wondering what might reasonably link the time-travelling junior X-Men with Venom.  And there really doesn’t seem to be an answer to that, beyond one link which this story generates, apparently to set us up for a sequel.  But I’m left entirely unconvinced that the world needed one X-Men / Venom crossover, let alone two.

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Mar 16

Iceman #11

Posted on Friday, March 16, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s cancellation season again, the familiar result of Marvel’s practice of relaunching the whole line at once, and quietly planning to give the lesser titles twelve issues or so to see how they last.  Almost inevitably, the answer is “twelve issues or so, give or take”.  And so this is Sina Grace’s wrap-up issue, joined by Robert Gill on art, though with Grace himself drawing the flashbacks.

This is what you’d call a thematic wrap-up issue.  Bobby is out for lunch with Rictor when Bobby’s parents phone up to say that the old reclusive guy next door seems to be a mutant whose powers are going crazy.  Mr Poklemba seems to have been a harmless if paranoid eccentric, anxiously covering his house in drawings of mutants – “apocalyptic drawings and news clippings about X-Men”, to be precise.

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Mar 14

All-New Wolverine #31 – “Honey Badger & Deadpool”

Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

This is timely.  Not because issue #32 came out today, but because Marvel announced today that we’re coming to the end of Tom Taylor’s run as writer.  Mariko Tamaki is next in line, and in July, you guessed it, it’s issue #1… of X-23.

X-23.  I am sighing deeply.  Pause here and imagine the sigh.  Of course, it was entirely obvious that the original Wolverine would show up at some point and reclaim the name, because that’s what always happens.  Fair enough.  In fact, it always struck me that one of the problems with Marvel simultaneously replacing Captain America, Wolverine, Thor, Iron Man and so forth was that, in the way of these things, the reset button was also going to come about pretty much simultaneously for all of them and, well, that was maybe not going to be such a good look.  But so be it.

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Mar 11

Deadpool vs Old Man Logan #1-5

Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

So here’s one that could easily slip under the radar – a five-issue Deadpool / Old Man Logan miniseries written by Declan Shalvey, with art by Mike Henderson.  Shalvey is better known as an artist, though he did write a graphic novel last year, Savage Town.  Still, this seems to be the first time he’s written a miniseries.  Henderson’s main claim to fame is the Image series Nailbiter, which wrapped up last year.

The recap page gives us the current status quo for both characters, but in fact this is evergreen.  Deadpool still feels the urge to help people, but is hugely annoying while doing so, while Logan could largely be regular Wolverine, despite all the mentions that he’s getting on in years.  Which is fine – it’s a mini off to the side somewhere and it has no need to yoke itself to continuity.

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Mar 8

Generation X #85-87 – “Survival of the Fittest”

Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Or, if you prefer, issues #10-12.  In typical Marvel fashion, twelve issues is your lot with this series – we discussed this on the last podcast, but broadly speaking, Marvel seem to be minded to announce something as an ongoing series when what they really mean is “it’ll probably last twelve issues but we want to leave our options open for a miracle”.  On the plus side, this means that mayfly titles tend to reach some sort of proper resolution because the writer never seriously expected to get past this point either.  But that would be true if they just marketed them as minis to start with.

Renumbering for three issues only to get cancelled is silly, but that’s Legacy for you.  The Legacy connection in this arc is, um, tenuous.  It has to be, because Generation X has a twelve issue storyline and a bunch of threads to draw together, all with a view to bringing its cast together as some sort of family who can stick together as friends going forward.  And this doesn’t leave a ton of space to start shoehorning in retro elements.  Fortunately, the main villain for this series was always M/Emplate, and some of the original Generation X cast members are already in the book, so you can give them a bit more prominence, get Terry Dodson to do some covers, and call the box ticked.  But to all intents and purposes, this is the story they were going to do anyway, and thank heavens for that.

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Mar 6

X-Men Gold #21-22: “Brotherhood”

Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

We can take this one quickly, because although X-Men Gold #21-22 are billed as a two-part story, they’re really not.  That’s not to say that bracketing them together is completely random – there’s certainly a story unit here, for want of a better word – but X-Men Gold is written more as a throwback to the open-ended storylines of the 80s and 90s, before things came in defined arcs.  So “Brotherhood” is really two issues of set-up – or, if you prefer, it’s not so much a story as a first act.

From the X-Men’s point of view, the story is very simple.  Mesmero’s Brotherhood show up again, attacking a Heritage Initiative fundraising event.  The X-Men dutifully go to save the day.  But Mesmero is an illusionist, so he tricks them into fighting the police and runs away.  Kitty decides they should probably play along with the authorities, since they did beat up some cops and all, so the team are carted off to jail, which is where we can presumably expect to find them in issue #23’s “Cruel & Unusual, Part 1”.

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Mar 5

Weapon X #12-14 – “Nuke-Clear War”

Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Wordplay isn’t what it used to be.  Still, with this arc, Weapon X finally leaves the Weapon X Project behind and turns its attention to something else: Nuke.

Weapon X doesn’t exist to be a subtle comic, and Nuke is not a subtle character.  He’s a pill-popping patriotic maniac with the US flag tattooed on his face who runs around killing everything in a patriotic frenzy.  His tenuous connection with the X-books comes from the Grant Morrison era, which decided that his version of the Super-Soldier Programme was actually the Weapon VII Program, forerunner of Weapon X.

But when he debuted in Daredevil #232, he was presented as a debased Reaganite version of Captain America, an easily manipulated hyper-patriot, struggling to grasp simple facts like “this isn’t Vietnam”, who would be a total buffoon if he wasn’t also a dangerous lunatic.  He represents a toxic version of patriotism open to taking orders from anyone with the right flag, and he’s a ludicrous parody of Rambo.

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