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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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Jan 11

Iceman #3-5

Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

The idea of Sina Grace and Nathan Stockman’s Iceman tends to be better than the reality, which is a frustrating mix of the subtly executed, and the crashingly heavy handed.  I covered the first two issues of this series a while back, and here we get what amounts to a third issue which broadly stands alone, followed by the big drawing together of threads to… mixed results.

#3 has a lot of what this book does well.  It’s Bobby as the X-Man with a foot in the real world.  He’s dating, he’s at a street food festival in Manhattan.  Spider-Man and Firestar are there too, with their own dates.  And honestly, I’m more interested in seeing these characters do normal things for a bit.  Well, not so much Spider-Man, who actually does normal things quite often – but it’s a nice change of pace for the X-Men.  Stockman’s good on the setting and largely decent on his conversation scenes, though he does lapse into fixed grins from time to time.

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Jan 10

Domino #7-10: “Soldier of Fortune”

Posted on Thursday, January 10, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

On the heels of the strikingly abrupt final issues of Weapon X, “Soldier of Fortune” is something suspiciously similar – a four part story which comes in two barely connected halves, and which seems to go into fast forward in its final issue.  I don’t know what was going on here, but this is another story that certainly reads as if the book was abruptly cancelled and went into aggressive wrap-up mode.

Except… Domino returns as a five-issue miniseries in March, with precisely the same creative team.  So… what the heck?  A last-minute reprieve after they’d already committed to the wrap-up?  An inexplicable attack of madness?

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Jan 6

Mr & Mrs X #6 – “King & Queen”

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

So this is the previous issue of Mr & Mrs X – issue #7 was out this week – but I was figuring it was an opening chapter of something, and it turns out that it isn’t.

As promised in issue #5, this is Rogue and Gambit’s… well, apparently it’s a “belated engagement party”, though it’s basically a flatwarming.  Either way, this is what you want from a Rogue and Gambit series; I can understand why the first arc packed them off into space, if only to get them away from the rest of the X-Men, but mainly I’m here to see them be domestic.  That’s the interest here, surely?  That’s what we want to know if they can actually do?

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Dec 30

Weapon X #22-27: “Weapon X-Force”

Posted on Sunday, December 30, 2018 by Paul in x-axis

Weapon X was quietly cancelled through the age-old technique of just not soliciting any more issues; the final issue has no farewell message, at least not in the digital version, but simply the word “End” in the corner of the final panel.  And this final arc, which introduces a new team line-up under the “Weapon X-Force” name, then lurches through two largely unrelated chunks of plot, reads very much like an aborted new direction that was intended to run for longer.  Whether that’s the case, I can’t know for sure – but it reads like it, which is ultimately what matters.

The new line-up, clad unflatteringly in Sabretooth’s black and orange colour scheme, are Sabretooth himself, Mystique, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Domino (the only one of these characters who would normally be considered to qualify for any variety of “good guy”, but in this company largely because she’s amoral).  As set up in previous arcs, the idea here is that the ailing Logan has steered Sabretooth in the direction of running this new team, which may or may not keep him out of trouble, depending on what sort of jobs his mercenary crew chooses to take on.

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Dec 27

Extermination

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

The thinking behind Extermination might be called haphazard.  This is the story where the time-travelling original X-Men finally get removed from the board – they’re sent back to the Silver Age and the reset button is duly pressed, save that their adult counterparts now remember everything that happened while they were in the present.  The practical significance of this is surely limited, given that their adult counterparts already know the general thrust of what they’ve been up to – it feels like more of a gesture of goodwill that, honestly, this all amounted to something.

But the obvious question is: why is this appearing as a separate miniseries written by Ed Brisson, rather than the final arc of Cullen Bunn’s X-Men Blue?  Isn’t that the natural place to do this story?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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