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Oct 6

Marvel Comics Presents #1-9: “The Vigil”

Posted on Sunday, October 6, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Well, this went wrong. Marvel Comics Presents was a format that worked in the eighties and nineties – the original run made it to issue #175 – but the market is no longer so friendly to anthologies. Marvel put some well known creators on this book, and put a Wolverine story in the lead slot – at a time when the character had only just returned from a lengthy (if largely notional) absence. But here we are, cancelled after issue #9.

That’s particularly awkward since Soule’s original announcement of this storyline described it as a twelve-parter. The final issue is extended, but it still seems to have lost some pages along the way.

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Oct 5

New Mutants: War Children

Posted on Saturday, October 5, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Marvel’s 80th anniversary celebrations have spawned quite a few retro one-shots, ranging from the straightforwardly nostalgic to the barely fathomable. You certainly can’t dismiss it as a pure cash grab – nobody publishes a Ziggy Pig & Silly Seal one-shot because they expect it to rake in the profits.

One of the more welcome one-shots – for readers of a certain age, at any rate – is New Mutants: War Children, which reunited Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz for what amounts to a missing New Mutants Annual. Claremont and Sienkiewicz never did an annual during their run – New Mutants Annual #1 has a Sienkiewicz cover, but he didn’t do the interior art. So if you’re going to revisit a very specific run, this is certainly the way to do it.

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Oct 3

House of X #6 annotations

Posted on Thursday, October 3, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post is full of spoilers, and page numbers are according to the digital edition. This is the final issue of House of X, but I’ll be reviewing it and Powers of X together once both are complete, since they’re functionally a single book.

COVER (PAGE 1): Storm, Emma Frost and Exodus, on Krakoa, with Storm apparently addressing an audience. There are more people watching from the balconies in the background.

PAGE 2: The epigraph simply has Professor X proclaiming an imperfect but good start. That applies not just to his plan with Krakoa, but to the Hickman run in general – House of X is more of an extended prologue to establish the Krakoan status quo than it is a story in itself. The line comes from the Council meeting scene later in the issue.

PAGES 3-7: One month ago, Professor X dons the Cerebro helmet and makes his speech to humankind – the one that he gave shortly before issue #1.

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Oct 1

Wolverine Annual #1: “Acts of Evil”

Posted on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

It’s not all Jonathan Hickman! I mean, it’s mostly Jonathan Hickman, to be sure. But there were a smattering of other X-books out last week, miles off to the side of anything that might impinge on current continuity.

First up is this year’s Wolverine Annual #1, because this is Marvel, and you have to explain which Wolverine Annual #1 you mean. There have been four this century, only one of which was followed by Wolverine Annual #2. If you’re into legacy numbering, then by my count this is actually Wolverine Annual #10, although that’s over a 24 year period, which isn’t especially annual. And I couldn’t even be confident about that because it’s so hard to search for them.

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Sep 26

Powers of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 26, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers refer to the digital edition.

COVER (PAGE 1): Mister Sinister stands over some of the eggs from which cloned mutants are hatching. Once again, this is an odd choice of cover, since it has nothing to do with the issue (in which Sinister doesn’t appear).

PAGE 2: The epigraph is a very on-the-nose quote from Professor X saying that the real plan is something else entirely. Without context, it’s not clear who Xavier is referring to when he says that “they” will get it wrong, but Hickman’s run has been full of hints that all is not what it seems here. You’d expect Xavier to be referring to humans, but it could as easily be mutants…

PAGE 3: The credits. The title of this issue is “For The Children”, and Xavier has treated the X-Men – and mutants generally – in a very paternalistic way throughout Hickman’s run. But here, it’s a line of dialogue from Emma later on, when she decides to join Xavier’s plan. The small print reads “Once more I need three.” This might refer to the three back-up units that Xavier mentions in the next scene.

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Sep 19

House of X #5 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

COVER (PAGE 1): Apocalypse walks through the reeds. Not much to do with the content, aside from the fact that this is where he enters the modern-day story – so far, we’ve only seen him in the future time frame of Powers of X.

PAGE 2: The epigraph sees Professor X stressing the differences between humans and mutants – very different from his traditional approach of emphasising the similarities.

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Sep 13

Powers of X #4 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 13, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, there will be spoilers, and page numbers are going by the digital edition.

PAGE 1 (COVER): Professor X, wearing Cerebro, surrounded by the floating heads of various X-Men from the present and “Year 100” timelines. Most of them are recognisable, and perhaps the others are more of the “Sinister line” mutants from Year 100 (Rasputin and North are both there, for example). The solicitation version of this cover shows that the guy partly obscured by the logo is orange and has a fin on his head, so I’m drawing a blank there. None of this has anything much to do with the story inside.

PAGE 2: The opening epigraph is another Professor X quote, not taken from anything in the issue. The significance isn’t clear, beyond the obvious point about making difficult choices driven by need.

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Sep 5

House of X #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 5, 2019 by Paul in HoXPoX, x-axis

As always, this contains spoilers, and page numbers are going by the digital edition.

PAGE 1 (COVER): The X-Men fighting the Orchis Project footsoldiers.

PAGE 2: The epigraph comes from the captions in which Professor X reacts to the apparent deaths of the Orchis Project team, later in the issue.

PAGE 3: Straight into the credits this time. The issue title is “It Will Be Done”. That refers back to Cyclops’s dialogue in Powers of X #2 when he was briefed on this suicide mission. (“Does it need doing?” “Yes” “Then it will be done.”)

The small print reads “The House of Xavier and the way we treat our children.” “Children” here seems to refer at the same time to mutants in general (the Mother Mold compares mutants to the titans, the children of the primordial gods); the X-Men in particular (Xavier seems to have them in mind in his closing monologue); and the machines themselves (the Mother Mold says that “while you war, we children sit in judgment of those above us”). As others have pointed out, Hickman seems quite keen on mother imagery in this series.

PAGE 4: A data page on previous events which have led to the near extinction of mutants. The banner – “Look at what they’ve done” – cuts across the usual matter-of-fact tone of these pages. The list of anti-mutant criminals and their body counts is largely drawn from X-Force #3 (2008), which had a double-page spread introducing the Human Council of the Purifiers and giving their affiliations and body counts. The Human Council were former big-league anti-mutant villains who had become infected with the techno-organic virus so as to become part of Bastion’s collective, so it’s a story that fits quite well with Hickman’s broader themes. He’s added two names to the list: the Scarlet Witch and Mr Clean. (more…)

Sep 1

Domino: Hotshots

Posted on Sunday, September 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

You thought I’d forgotten about this one, didn’t you? Or, more likely, you’d forgotten about it. Weirdly tagged on to the end of a Domino ongoing series whose final issue read as if everything was being rushed to a conclusion, this is… a five issue miniseries which is basically another five issues of Domino, even though the logo says Hotshots in big letters and Domino in really, really small ones. But it’s still Gail Simone and David Baldeón, and it’s still the cast that were established in their Domino ongoing, which was kind of an ensemble book already, treating Diamondback and Outlaw as virtual co-stars. The same applies here, but with a rather wider group, and a little bit more flexibility in terms of who gets to be the narrator.

It’s one of those stories in which a dangerously powerful macguffin surfaces, and everyone is chasing after it to make sure that it stays out of the wrong hands. This particular macguffin falls from space, and transforms everyone who touches it by… well, by turning them into a Jack Kirby character, pretty much. Black Widow is the one who supposedly wants to keep it out of the wrong hands, and she hires Domino’s crew for the purpose, with White Fox (the South Korean character who’s being steadily introduced into the mainstream Marvel Universe) coming along too. The tension here, of course, is whether any of these guys would trust any of the others to walk off with the cosmic macguffin.

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Sep 1

X-Force #5-10: “The Counterfeit King”

Posted on Sunday, September 1, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

Alright, I should be more accurate: issue #7-10 are “The Counterfeit King.” Issues #5 and #6 are origin issues for Cable and Stryfe (“Some 2,000 Years From Yesterday” and “2,000 Years From Tomorrow”). But the ten issues of this run of X-Force are a single extended story, one that looks like a false start given that we’re getting yet another different “X-Force” team after the relaunch, while Cable gets packed off to the new Fallen Angels title. In the bigger picture, I suppose the main purpose of this series is to establish the revamped version of Cable and get him up and running, ready for use after the relaunch.

The origin issues are drawn by guest artist Damian Couciero, though in a style that turns out to fit quite nicely with the regular series – there’s not quite the same cartooning sensibility as Dylan Burnett’s work on the rest of the series, but it’s decent work and the colouring helps bring it all together with the other issues. The idea here is that the Silver Age X-Men’s extended trip to the future messed up the timeline in a way that was starting to have an impact even on Cable’s youth in the far future. And yes, we’re back to the New Canaanites and all that, a world with characters called things like Tetherblood and Flintshard. (Find your own Cable’s Largely Forgotten Youthful Acquaintance Name by choosing words from columns A and B! You could be Lobsterscrub, Whackstalk, or maybe Plinthquartz!) Good old Blaquesmith explains that time is being rewritten, and so young Cable is sent back in time early to sort it all out. And of course the characters from the “new” timeline, which is overwriting the old one, would quite like it to stick around – one of those being the new version of Stryfe.

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