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Nov 8

X-Men: Black – Emma Frost

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

X-Men: Black has been a strange little set of one-shots.  The MagnetoMojo and Mystique stories were mainly just restatements of the characters.  But Juggernaut seemed to be setting up a new status quo for the character (if not an especially interesting one).

And now we have Emma Frost‘s one-shot, written by Leah Williams and pencilled by Chris Bachalo (with six inkers, so the deadlines must have been pressing on this one).  This one is actually important to the plot.


Oct 28

X-Men Black: Juggernaut

Posted on Sunday, October 28, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

The X-Men Black one-shots have been surprisingly decent considering that they’re effectively fill in stories.  But perhaps we were bound to hit something generic in the end, and here we are.

What is there to say about this one, really?  The Juggernaut finds himself in the Silver Age X-Men mansion and gets into a fight with the X-Men inside, immediately suspecting that something is not right here.  As it turns out, he’s right, but not in an especially interesting way.


Oct 21

X-23 #1-5: “Two Birthdays and Three Funerals”

Posted on Sunday, October 21, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Mariko Tamaki and Juann Cabal get a fresh issue #1 for the start of their run, but this is very much a continuation of Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine.  The set-up is exactly the same, except for the dropping of the “Wolverine” name in favour of “X-23” – which nobody draws attention to until issue #5, and which Laura pointedly refuses to explain.  So perhaps it’s something we’re coming back to, and they just didn’t want it to overshadow the first arc.  Or perhaps it’s something we’re kicking into the long grass, because we all know the real reason – Wolverine Classic is back – so there’s not much point trying to sell us on an organic story reason.

Visually, the style of the book hasn’t drastically changed either.  Cabal drew much of the “Orphans of X” storyline for All-New Wolverine, and he maintains that style here.  Unfortunately, deadlines seem to catch up with him by the final issue, most of which is handled competently enough by Marcio Fiorito.  But the rest of the book has some great visual flourishes, not just with the usual contrast between Laura and her enthusiastic mini-me Gabby, but also in the way the Stepford Cuckoos’ unity and pose starts to break down when they’re alone and arguing amongst themselves.


Oct 20

Iceman #1-2

Posted on Saturday, October 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

This is an interesting new phenomenon – a book that didn’t survive as a monthly makes a comeback on the strength of sales of the collected edition.  Perhaps it should be more surprising that this hasn’t happened before.  It’s not that unusual for Marvel and DC to launch a book in the expectation that the potential audience lies outside the direct market, but those books tend to be ones whose appeal is obviously outside the direct market.  Sina Grace’s Iceman, being basically a mainstream X-book, despite the heavy focus on Iceman’s coming out, is not so clearly in that category.  But here it is for another run, presumably due to sales of the collection coming as a pleasant surprise to Marvel.

The first two issues seem to be self-contained, so let’s take them together.


Oct 18

X-Men: Black – Mystique

Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Shape changing is one of those relatively low key powers that often gets taken for granted by writers.  We know what Mystique can do, it’s a handy plot device sometimes, on with the show.

This is Seanan McGuire’s second story for Marvel – the first was the X-Men Gold Annual with the holiday camp – and since any wider plotlines are at best marginal, it’s free to spend its time re-stating the premise, and reminding us of why Mystique runs rings around everyone.  So whether it’s in the real world or a superhero setting, Mystique is happily bouncing around unnoticed as a background character.


Oct 17

X-Men: Black – Mojo

Posted on Wednesday, October 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

There are certainly some interesting creator choices for the X-Men: Black one-shots.  Mojo gets artist Nick Bradshaw (always welcome, and his detailed cartooning is a good fit for the character), and comedian Scott Aukerman.  I’m… vaguely familiar with Aukerman’s name?  I see there’s three seasons of Comedy Bang Bang on UK Netflix, but yeah, never watched them.

But Mojo’s a comic relief villain, so a comedy writer makes sense.  And this is indeed… well, wacky.  Much depends here on how much tolerance you have for wacky, and how relaxed you are about people being wildly out of character for wackiness’ sake.


Oct 16

X-Men: Black – Magneto

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: Black is… a series of random one-shots about villains, I guess?  There’s a serialised back-up strip, “Degeneration”, but the lead stories seem to have no connection with it, or to one another.  So I’ll take that at face value.

“The Stars, Our Destination?” is a Magneto story written by Chris Claremont and pencilled by Dalibor Talajić.  And it’s always a slightly strange feeling when Chris Claremont makes one of his occasional reprise visits to the X-Men.  He wrote the team for sixteen years; his take on the X-Men is the one that elevated them to A-list status.  But you can’t really emulate the strengths of that run in a story like this, because so much of it was about building characters and storylines over time.


Oct 12

What If? – X-Men

Posted on Friday, October 12, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Another year, another batch of What If? one-shots. So welcome to Completist Corner: It’s Technically An X-Book.

The original What If? series specialised in alternate endings to published stories, which usually turned out to be that a lot of people died and the world was changed forever or something.  More recently, though, the What If? branding has been applied to some ground-up alternate-reality takes on main characters, which is what we have here.  It’s a cyberspace X-Men, because somebody has spotted that X and *.exe are kind of a bit similar?  If you squint?  That somebody, presumably, is writer Bryan Edward Hill, who’s doing a Batman and the Outsiders series for DC.


Oct 4

Domino Annual #1

Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Annuals are always off to the side somewhere, and if they’re not going to be important to the plot, they have to find some other way of standing out.  The first Domino annual is certainly different: it’s a four-story anthology with four different writers (plus a framing sequence by Leah Williams and Michael Shelfer).  So we’re getting a bunch of different perspectives on Domino, a character who’s been written in wildly divergent ways over the years.  Does it add up to something coherent?

First up is “Dead Drunk in Dry Gulch”, by regular writer Gail Simone, with art by Victor Ibáñez and Jay David Ramos.  This one ties in directly to the regular title, since it’s a flashback to Domino’s first encounter with Outlaw, forming the posse from the regular title.  It’s a blatant retcon, equipping Domino with two best friends who she’s never previously been associated with, so a bit of back story probably helps lend it weight.


Sep 27

X-Men Blue #33-36: “Surviving the Experience”

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

If X-Men Gold had the problem of doing a final issue when nothing was really ending, X-Men Blue has a slightly different problem: the time-travelling teens’ tenure in 2018 is tantalisingly close to termination!  They look set to return to the sixties!  A simpler, more alliterative and exclamatory time!  There’s a real ending here!

Or rather, there’s a real ending, but it’s over in Extermination, which isn’t even written by Cullen Bunn.  Nor does it particularly lend itself to any kind of plot set-up.  So instead X-Men Blue spends its last issues tying up some loose ends and character arcs, and trying to provide a sense of closure to the run.