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Apr 27

Hulkverines

Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel’s approach to the return of Wolverine could politely be described as confused.  They brought him back in the Marvel Legacy one-shot, and then dawdled around for ages trying to decide what to do with him.  Eventually, they decided that it wasn’t really him after all, and so they brought him back again in a sprawling collection of minis.  And after all that effort, the follow-up is… Wolverine: Infinity Watch, a miniseries tying in to a crossover that finished long ago.

And, technically, Hulkverines, a three-issue mini in which Wolverine and the Hulk meet Weapon H, the Hulk/Wolverine hybrid that debuted in Weapon X before spinning off into his own series.  This only barely qualifies as an X-book – I didn’t treat Weapon H as an X-book, since it promptly went its own way, so we’ve got here a one-third X-content.  But hey, close enough.

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Apr 25

Mr & Mrs X #7-10: “Gambit & Rogue Forever”

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

While most of the X-books are quite literally off in their own little world (and boy, that’s going to be a lot of storylines all finishing at once in a couple of months…), we still have secondary titles continuing as usual.  So here are four issues of Rogue and Gambit in the Mojoverse.

Mojo’s not an obvious choice of villain for these two.  Yes, he’s an X-Men bad guy, but he doesn’t have any more specific link to these two, and like Arcade, he’s the sort of wacky novelty villain who can wear thin rather quickly.  So it’s probably for the best that writer Kelly Thompson only devotes an issue and a half to traditional Mojo hijinks before moving on to something with a bit more substance.

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Mar 23

X-23 #7-10: “X-Assassin”

Posted on Saturday, March 23, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

X-23 is always going to lend itself to stories about identity.  You’ve got Laura herself, the emotionally scarred hero grown and raised in the lab, and then you’ve got her clone Gabby, who’s literally a younger version of the same character, but diverted at an earlier stage and inappropriately gleeful.  The nature versus nurture thing is kind of built in, and it comes up a lot.

And here’s another one.  Mariko Tamaki and Diego Olortegui’s “X-Assassin” sees our heroes capture a mysterious assassin who turns out to be another clone, except a mute, seemingly soulless one.

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Mar 21

X-Force #1-4: “Sins of the Past”

Posted on Thursday, March 21, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

The latest relaunch of X-Force seems suspiciously like a last-minute decision, considering that Weapon X was already covering very much the same territory, and got cut very abruptly short.  But this iteration, which spins out of the Extermination miniseries, is unexpectedly strong.

Some versions of X-Force have been ponderously gritty, and this one is certainly happy enough for them to be the paramilitary wing of the X-Men again.  But the overall style of the thing strikes a much more appealing tone.  A lot of that is due to Dylan Burnett’s art (and Jesus Aburtov’s colouring), which gives the book an appealingly loose, cartooning feel.  The exaggeration takes the edge off some of the grimmer bits, but at the same time it brings a lot of personality to the characters. I always like art that doesn’t try to make Cannonball look traditionally heroic, but this story even manages to bring some life to Ahab, patiently trying to explain a slightly saner version of anti-mutant hatred to the raving lunatics that he’s currently aligned with.

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Mar 17

Uncanny X-Men: Winter’s End

Posted on Sunday, March 17, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So here’s a new angle in curious labelling.  Uncanny X-Men: Winter’s End may be billed as an X-Men special, but it’s actually the final issue of Sina Grace’s Iceman.

Now, this certainly isn’t false advertising, or anything like that.  Iceman is in the X-Men too.  And there’s a long history of unresolved plots from cancelled books being dutifully wound up in other titles, at least back in the days when people bothered to do such things as wrap up the unresolved plots from cancelled books.  But there’s no getting away from the fact that this is an issue of Iceman – the main story will make sense if you haven’t read that book, but there are subplots that really won’t.  So you have to suspect that this has been bannered as an X-Men story in the hope that it’ll sell a few extra copies.  (You probably wouldn’t guess that it was an Iceman story from the cover, either, which is a bit of a giveaway.)

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Feb 22

Return of Wolverine

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Return of Wolverine is a comic that exists to get a thing from A to B.  We all know that.  And everyone involved knows we all know that.  So what to do on the pages?

Charles Soule is a writer unusually willing to take on this sort of horrendous assignment – he was the one who killed off Wolverine in the first place, after all, not to mention the writer who tried his best to deliver on Marvel’s Inhumans fetish.  He can be very good when he’s writing something like Daredevil that doesn’t come with a ton of baggage attached.  On something like this, well, at least he tends to bring something wilfully eccentric to the exercise.

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Feb 19

Shatterstar

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Shatterstar, written by Tim Seeley and pencilled by Carlos Villa (with Gerardo Sandoval on the flashbacks), reads like a pilot for an ongoing series – it’s got a new status quo, and what sure looks like the core of a regular supporting cast.  It’s an endearingly eccentric take on the character, but also one that seems to have been instantly jettisoned, given the way he’s being used in X-Force.  So… welcome to the apocrypha.

This is Shatterstar, intergalactic landlord.  He’s seemingly retired from superhero-ing, he’s broken up with Rictor, and he’s the landlord of a building called Manor Crossing where all of his tenants are refugees from assorted obscure universes.  And they’re a weird bunch.

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Feb 3

Age of X-Man: Alpha

Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

So here we are again, at the start of another event.  This is the set-up one-shot which leads in to no fewer than six minis – Marvelous X-MenNextGenAmazing NightcrawlerX-TremistsPrisoner X, and Apocalypse & The X-Tracts.  You know how these things work: a basic story that serves as an introduction to the world, and scenes which lead in to all of the individual minis, complete (for once) with footnotes telling you precisely where to go for the follow-up.  Which is appreciated, by the way.

The build to this story, over ten issue of Uncanny X-Men, was decidedly underwhelming, and left me approaching this issue with a sense of grinding duty.  But this is night and day.  “Disassembled” felt like a protracted exercise in getting the right characters into the right place (and not very organically at that), but Age of X-Man turns out to be going somewhere less obvious.

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Jan 27

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1: “The Return of Cyclops”

Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, no messing around with that story title, is there?  Still, coming after the decidedly underwhelming “Disassembled” arc, this is more like it.  It’s no classic – there’s an unavoidable sense of a writer and his editors grabbing the story by the neck and yanking it into the desired position.  But on the flip side, it also brings a clear sense of what it’s trying to accomplish, and it gets there in a fairly satisfying and efficient way.  It does a rather better job than “Disassembled” of conveying a sense of purpose.

“The Return of Cyclops” is written by Ed Brisson, one of the X-books’ regular stable of writers, with strong art by Carlos Gomez.  It’s solid storytelling that adds to the scenes with some decent acting, and hopefully Marvel US will do more with him.  He does a particularly solid job with the young Cable, who comes across as annoyingly relaxed for much of the issue, something that plays nicely into the way he acts.  But the scene of the villain returning to his neglected lab after years in jail is also beautifully done.

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Jan 24

Uncanny X-Men #1-10: “X-Men Disassembled”

Posted on Thursday, January 24, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well.

On paper, this looked okay.  New direction, weekly storyline.  Written by Ed Brisson, Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson – they’re usually interesting writers.  Named after “Avengers Disassembled”, which was awful… but actually closer to the format of last year’s “Avengers: No Surrender”, which was pretty good.  Art by… well, the first issue is drawn by Mahmud Asrar, but mostly it’s the likes of Pere Perez, RB Silva and Yildiray Cinar, because it’s a weekly and it needs a team.  Still, it sounded quite promising on paper.

And here it is, and it’s kind of meh.

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