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Aug 13

Wolverine & Captain America: Weapon Plus: “The Last Best Hope of Earth”

Posted on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

From one prologue issue to another.  Solicited as a one-shot – albeit with a “begins here” tag – Ethan Sacks and Diogenes Neves’ story turns out at the end to be a lead-in to something that appears to be called Weapon Plus: Weapons Free.  Alright then.

The solicitations also lead with “The secret history behind their origins revealed!”  And… not so much, really.  If you bought this looking for major revelations about Captain America or Wolverine as individuals, you’d have been rather disappointed.  Instead, the idea is more about trying to set up a unifying behind-the-scenes force for the various dodgy super-soldier projects.  Mercifully, this doesn’t change anything of substance for either character; it just gives them links to others.

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Aug 11

Giant-Size X-Statix – “Hereditary-X”

Posted on Sunday, August 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, look who’s back.  This looked like a random one-shot when it appeared on the schedules, but it turns out to be the prologue issue for The X-Cellent, a 2020 series reuniting Peter Milligan, Michael and Laura Allred, and (some of) X-Statix.  The X-books are going in some odd directions again.  X-Statix wasn’t a perfect series by any means – the Princess Diana thing probably wouldn’t have worked even without the editorial problems – but its little corner of the line was always refreshingly bizarre.

It was also very much an irk-the-purists book, and that spirit seems alive.  Since X-Statix killed off most of its characters, this book opts for a next-generation approach.  So our main character here is U-Go Girl’s daughter Katie, who was introduced back in X-Force #119, and believed she was actually Edie’s younger sister.  She’s now grown up and ready to be the next version of the character.  But on top of that we’ve got Anarchist’s previously unmentioned teen son “The A” and Phat’s clone “Phatty”, along with a returning Orphan, Vivisector and Dead Girl.  Do not ask about how the timeline works.  Really, don’t.

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Aug 8

House of X #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

So this is the huge high-concept retcon.  Spoilers ahead, as if that wasn’t obvious.  (Again, I’m using the page numbers in the digital edition.)

COVER (PAGE 1): There’s quite a lot going on in this set of triangles..  There are six different versions of Moira in the centre, each presumably representing a different one of her lives, though some of the images would fit as well with more than one.  We’ll come to the big idea in detail later on, but the six Moira shown on the cover are (clockwise from top) Moira VII, the Trask hunter; Moira IX, the Apocalypse ally; Moira in a lab coat and glasses, which could be one of several incarnations; Moira X, the current version; Moira in the clothes we see her wearing in the Oxford pub in several of her lives; and a normally-dressed Moira who doesn’t seem to match any of the ones in the issue.  In the background, for some reason, there’s a picture of a fingerprint – perhaps just to emphasise that they’re all the same person.

Surrounding her are Magneto, in his current costume; Cyclops; Emma Frost, Professor X (classic version); Wolverine; and Marvel Girl.  Moira X is adjacent to Xavier, which seems to make sense, but the others seem more random, at least at this point.  In the outer spaces are the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Apocalypse, and what appears to be the face of one of his henchmen.  The two pictures in the top left are obscured by the House of X logo, but the solicitation art shows that it’s Nimrod and a Sentinel.

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Aug 6

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse & The X-Tracts

Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Considering that Age of X-Man seems to have been intended as something of a palate cleanser before Jonathan Hickman’s run, it could hardly be accused of lacking ambition.  It’s delivered some very unusual X-books indeed, and none stranger than this: a comic in which Apocalypse leads a group of art-school drop outs to campaign for the power of love.  The titular X-Tracts aren’t the team, by the way – they’re scriptures.  (The team are called the Light Riders.)

All this makes a reasonable degree of sense within the context of the Age of X-Man crossover.  Nate, for his own reasons, has built a “utopia” based on autonomy, isolation, and the rejection of personal relationships.  Cast as the villain, Apocalypse rejects all that.  He’s not calling himself Apocalypse, of course; he’s En Sabah Nur, or “Murshid” (teacher), and he looks more like a cult leader.  But Nate wants him as an antagonist, presumably because he thinks there needs to be some sort of threat to order – however ineffectual – in order to keep everyone in line.  And certainly, in the other Age of X-Man books, the X-Men weirdly overreact to En Sabah Nur, who is doing nothing more than arranging some peace-and-love rallies.

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Aug 5

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X

Posted on Monday, August 5, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Oh yes, I haven’t forgotten about these.

Looking back, we can see where the problems lie with a crossover like Age of X-Man: the various minis wind up falling into a pattern where the characters start off immersed in Nate’s world, and slowly recover their memories over the course of a series.  There’s only so many variations you can do on that theme, and not all of them make for minis that are ultimately satisfying in their own right.

But on that score, Vita Ayala and Germán Peralta’s Prisoner X is one of the most successful.  Sure, in a broad sense, it’s the same plot as the others.  Bishop starts off believing himself to be a prisoner in the “Danger Room” complex, where he’s been sent after his third-strike for unacceptable relationships and crimes against “autonomy”.  And over the course of the series, he and some of the other prisoners figure out who they really are.  Prisoner X has some advantages over the others, though.

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Aug 2

Powers of X #1

Posted on Friday, August 2, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

Alright, then.  Not a review, just thoughts as we go through the issue to … well, work out what’s going on.  As before, I’m using the page numbers from the Comixology edition, which count double page spreads as a single page.

COVER (PAGE 1): These are mostly new characters from the future timelines that we’ll be seeing later in the story.  Behind them are the faces of Charles Xavier, Moira MacTaggert (presumably) and Nimrod, all of whom we’ll come to.

PAGE 2: An opening data page, with a quote from Moira MacTaggert in a scene we’ll reach on page 8.  Obviously, the “dream” references Charles Xavier’s dream of peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants, which the X-Men used to talk about all the time.  His separatist tendencies in House of X and Powers of X – assuming it’s really him – are arguably closer to Magneto’s vision than his traditional dream, although having said that, his actual strategy always boiled down to separating mutants away from the world until things got better of their own accord.  As I’ve pointed out before, this is now a rather unfashionable approach.

PAGE 3: Four panels representing the four time frames which Powers of X takes place in.  The title is pronounced Powers of Ten, and this page identifies the time frames as year 1 (“the Dream”), year 10 (“the World”), year 100 (“the War”) and year 1000 (“Ascension”).  All of them are labelled in terms of “the X-Men”, rather than mutants more generally.  Year One is represented by Charles Xavier; Year 10 by House of X Professor X; Year 100 by Nimrod The Lesser (who we’ll meet later); and Year 1000 by the Librarian (ditto). (more…)

Jul 25

House of X #1

Posted on Thursday, July 25, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

So I’m not ignoring the review backlog, but something tells me there’s a bit more interest in House of X #1 than there is in, say, the Wolverine vs Blade Special.  On the other hand, I don’t want to review this until it’s actually finished… and I don’t want to just post “open thread.”  So instead, since Hickman seems like the sort of writer whose stories are designed to repay scrutiny, let’s just unpick what’s going on here in continuity terms.

I’m using the page numbers for the digital edition here, which will be out of synch with a paper edition (since the double page spreads count as a single page) but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

COVER (PAGE 1).  The X-Men step through one of those gateways we’ll be hearing so much about.

PAGE 2: This is a Jonathan Hickman comic, so we’re getting lots of black and white “data pages” between scenes – a fairly standard device in his comics.  The script at the back is heavily redacted for this page – despite it containing almost no information – but does reveal that this quote is part of a telepathic speech by Charles Xavier to the world, evidently announcing the way things are going to be from now on.

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Jul 21

Wolverine: Exit Wounds

Posted on Sunday, July 21, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

No, I’m not quite sure why this exists either.  It’s a one-shot anthology with three Wolverine stories, which would normally scream “completist fodder”.  But it’s an unusually high end one, since at least it’s using creators who are strongly associated with Wolverine: Larry Hama, Chris Claremont, and (admittedly more of a stretch) Sam Kieth.  Apparently it’s something to do with Marvel’s 80th birthday celebrations, so I guess the idea is to let these guys play to the nostalgia.

It’s still a book that’s unlikely to trouble the attention of anyone other than completists and big fans of the creators, though.  Larry Hama leads off with “Red in Tooth and Claw”, illustrated by Scot Eaton and Sean Parsons, which is a flashback to the old memory-implant idea that he made so much of during his early 90s Wolverine run.  Hama always enjoyed the potential for surrealism in Wolverine’s altered memories, particularly when he had Mark Texeira on art.

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Jul 19

War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men

Posted on Friday, July 19, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

(Imagine here the sound of deep sighing.)

So.  These three issues aren’t technically part of Uncanny X-Men.  But they are written by Matthew Rosenberg, and they carry “legacy” numbers #635-637, which would place them between Uncanny X-Men #15-16 – just before Rahne leaves, in other words.  They also smooth over the plot a little bit, in terms of things like Hope becoming a member of the team.  So imagine if Rosenberg’s main story had been interrupted by a three-issue crossover arc between chapters five and six, basically.

War of the Realms grows out of a long-running Thor storyline, and basically involves a whole load of Asgardian baddies invading Earth and having a great big war.  And that’s not the best set-up for a tie-in with Rosenberg’s Uncanny X-Men.

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Jul 18

Mr & Mrs X #11-12 – “The Lady & The Tiger”

Posted on Thursday, July 18, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Gosh, the backlog is starting to look a bit terrifying.  That’ll happen when everything ends at once, I guess – including a bunch of prologue one-shots sneaking in under the wire.  But we’ll come to those.  First up, the closing two issues of Mr & Mrs X, a book which has in fact achieved something (hopefully) lasting and solid.  Before Kelly Thompson got hold of Rogue and Gambit, their on-again-off-again relationship had drifted into that grey territory somewhere between “nineties nostalgia” and “not this again.”  Despite the initial wrench it took to get them there, Mr & Mrs X ends with them as a solid couple who seem, once again, like they belong together.

Publishers can be understandably nervous about marrying off characters, because of the fear that it marks the end of their story.  It depends on the story, of course.  Moonlighting was notoriously considered to have lost its way after it paired up the lead characters, but the core of their appeal was the will-they-won’t-they schtick.  With Rogue and Gambit, any mileage in that routine was exhausted years ago, and besides, their appeal has long been more in the way they play off each other when they’re together.  They work as a double act; marrying them makes it stronger.

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