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Dec 20

X-Men Red: The Hate Machine

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Hark, listen closely.  Do you hear it?  There – ever so faint.  It’s the plaintive quack of a lame duck.

X-Men Red has spent nearly a year on its opening storyline with Cassandra Nova, about half of that time on an extended gathering-of-the-team sequence.  And by the time the damn thing has even finished, we were already several issues deep into the next relaunch.  Astonishing X-Men had this problem too – and suffered for it – but at least it also had a relatively self-contained redemption arc for Havok.  X-Men Red finds it more of a challenge, because it spends so very long on its team-building, and the whole thing reads like a statement of intent designed to set the direction for a new team.


Dec 10

X-Men: The Exterminated

Posted on Monday, December 10, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

X-Men: The Exterminated is an epilogue to Extermination, which you may have noticed isn’t finished yet.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a book spiral off the schedules like this.  How I’ve missed it.

So, spoilers – well, kind of.  This issue contains two stories saying farewell to Cable, who died at the beginning of Extermination, in an issue that came out a while back.  The spoiler, then, is that he’s still dead at the end.  But that is a spoiler, though, isn’t it?  Because people who die in the first act of a story tend not to stay dead.  Plus… well, it’s Extermination.  It’s a series that presumably exists to get rid of the time travelling X-Men who are nowhere to be seen in Uncanny X-Men, but the heavy lifting on that score was already done in X-Men Blue.  And so Extermination has a distinct vibe of not mattering in the slightest.  All of which means I was honestly a little surprised to learn that Cable was actually meant to be properly dead.


Dec 6

Merry X-Men Holiday Special

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

You don’t get much further into completist-only territory than an X-Men Christmas special.  Sometimes that can lead to issues with a distinct “that’ll do” feel to them.  Not so here – whatever else you might say about the Merry X-Men Holiday Special, it’s certainly trying something different, with contributors ranging from the usual suspects to the unexpected.

It’s part jam issue, part advent calendar, with each day featuring a single page by a different creative team.  Jam issues are often a frustrating mess, but this one avoids that problem by not even pretending to have a single story continuing between the pages.  For the most part, it’s just a range of creative teams, asked to pick an X-Man and do a one-page, December-themed vignette.


Nov 22

Mr & Mrs X #1-5: “Love & Marriage”

Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

That’s really the title of the book, then?  Because Rogue & Gambit was a perfectly serviceable title, and Mr & Mrs X sounds like a regional quiz show from 1982.  Maybe that’s just a British thing.

Effectively, this is the second arc of a series that began with the Rogue & Gambit mini – which re-established them as a couple – and which now continues following their impromptu wedding in X-Men Gold (which is rightly expanded on in issue #1).  It’s not a bad idea for a series, at least once you’ve got people to care about the couple again.  There haven’t been all that many superhero books based on a married couple with equal billing – on their own, rather than as part of a wider team – so the dynamic is relatively fresh.


Nov 21

Astonishing X-Men #13-17: “Until Our Hearts Stop”

Posted on Wednesday, November 21, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

We’ve just had a relaunch of Uncanny X-Men last week, positioned back in its flagship role, and clearly the title that we’re meant to look at and go “ah, there is the direction for the line”.  But there are some signs of incoherence in here as well – not least that Astonishing X-Men and X-Men Red are both running “gathering the team” arcs which wind up being overtaken by the next relaunch before they’ve even finished.

So Matthew Rosenberg’s first arc on Astonishing X-Men – solicited with “A new era begins now!” – is also the last, even though he’s going to be writing Uncanny X-Men going forward.  It has the distinct look of things being made up on the fly.


Nov 19

Multiple Man

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

Matthew Rosenberg and Andy MacDonald’s Multiple Man miniseries sounds like a bit of a sideshow.  It’s Madrox, after all, a character who’s only ever been important in the context of X-Factor, which was cancelled years ago.  But Rosenberg is also writing Astonishing X-Men, and the new Uncanny X-Men, in which Madrox turns out to have a big role.  So maybe this will turn out to be a bigger deal than you’d think.

Plus, Rosenberg’s recent New Mutants series didn’t convince me on the first read through, but turned out to be much more interesting on a re-read.  And – cards on the table – I really didn’t care for this at all on the first read.  It’s a time travel paradox story with a whole bunch of Madroxes going round in circles, some of whom have gone on to become versions of other Marvel characters.  And it seemed to have remarkably little interest in Madrox himself, except inasmuch as his powers lent themselves to making the plot even harder to follow.  It was a grind, frankly.


Nov 18

X-23 #6: “Operation Kindergarten Clone”

Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

After the opening arc, time for a palate cleanser.  “Operation Kindergarten Clone” is a single issue story in which Laura and Gabby go undercover in a high school, and hijinks ensue.  Who doesn’t love a good hijink?

If there’s any connection here to the bigger picture, it seems to lie in the fact that Laura is now specialising in hunting down dodgy scientist who are experimenting with mutant clones.  For some reason, somebody at the school has been ordering in genetic research equipment, and the working assumption is that it’s a science teacher trying to get a foothold in the world of supervillainy.  So Gabby is posing as a student and Laura is a track and field coach, and how they managed to get into those positions, look, don’t ask.


Nov 17

Old Man Logan #48-50: “King of Nothing”

Posted on Saturday, November 17, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Technically, this is the final arc of Old Man Logan; in practice, that means it’s renaming itself as Dead Man Logan for a lengthy concluding storyline.  Even so, here we are – fifty issues of a stand-in Wolverine title.  Not something you’d have been likely to predict, and probably not something that was a very good idea from the standpoint of the wider Marvel Universe, since viewed from that perspective, the book’s main contribution has been to undermine the idea that Wolverine ever went away.

Still, Ed Brisson and Ibraim Roberson’s story here is pretty successful on its own terms.  It’s a very, very simple plot: the Maestro has taken over a remote town in Canada, and Logan arrives to stop him and rescue the town.  It’s entirely straightforward, but it works on the strength of the setting and the parallels which it sets up with the book’s wider storyline.


Nov 15

Typhoid Fever: X-Men #1

Posted on Thursday, November 15, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

It’s the week of another X-Men relaunch, so naturally the question on everyone’s lips is: what did I think of the middle chapter of a Typhoid Mary miniseries that nobody is paying any attention to?

Because yes, this is another of those weird minis with different guest stars in every issue so that you can bill all three chapters as an issue #1.  That way, people like me will buy the middle chapter and then go off and buy the others!  Or that’s the theory.  Obviously, from the fact that I’m reviewing this as a one-shot, it didn’t work.


Nov 14

What If?: Magik

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

There was a time when the basic format of What If? stories was to take a previous story and change the ending, usually by showing what would have happened if the good guys had lost.  (Spoilers: it was generally the apocalypse.)  More recently, the more common approach has been to do some completely alternative take on the characters, often in the vein of a mash-up of sub-genres.

In this issue, Leah Williams and Filipe Andrade take the opposite approach.  The official title is “What If Magik Became Sorcerer Supreme”, but that’s not really the story at all.  In fact, it’s the end point – so if you actually do want to know what would happen if Magik became Sorcerer Supreme, you’d better hope for a sequel.