Posted on Sunday, May 6, 2012
by Paul in x-axis
Right, I did say we’d get through the rest of these books, and that’s what we’re going to do. Quickly, because there’s a whole new week of books to cover next…
Uncanny X-Force #24 - A one-off story between arcs, as X-Force hunt down the Age of Apocalypse Iceman (who’s apparently now living in our world) and try to kill him. I can see the thinking here – X-Force need some nice disposable villains to hunt down in order to sell their black ops concept, and it’s also a good opportunity to put Nightcrawler in the spotlight. Thus far, the focus has tended to be on how he’s a dark and bitter version of the original Nightcrawler; this story, playing up his former friendship with Iceman, allows an opportunity to play up his similarities instead.
Meanwhile, over in the subplots, Psylocke clarifies that in the last story, she gave up “my sorrow and my capacity to ever feel any again.” Normally I’d be a bit sceptical about this sort of storyline; oddly enough, it’s very similar to a plot that’s just wrapped up over in Angel and Faith, except that one took the more conventional route of having the hero ultimately decide not to take that route. I quite like Rick Remender’s angle here; having made the sacrifice, Psylocke no longer even perceives it as one. Yes, it’s a direction that fundamentally alters her personality, but since she was a bit of a drifting mess anyway, and has been for years, there’s a lot to be said for bringing in a completely new element that can take over as the defining feature of the character.
There’s also a sort of epilogue to the Otherworld storyline in which Captain Britain resentfully acknowledges the idea that X-Force are right about their methods. This feels a little bit tacked on here, and I wonder whether it’s mainly there to step up stories Remender is planning to do with the Captain over in Secret Avengers (which I haven’t been reading).
Overall, a decent issue; the subplots are kept ticking over, and the main story is a good one-issue break.
Uncanny X-Men #11 - This is an Avengers vs X-Men tie-in, which basically means that it’s Avengers vs X-Men #2 with narration from the perspective of various characters. The result is, perhaps inevitably, a bit uneven. There’s not much plot here at all, save for the closing page in which Cyclops instructs Kate Kildare to put out a press release about the X-Men’s position. That ties more closely to the themes of this series, and his attempts to position the Extinction Team as a group to be feared and respected in equal measure.
Otherwise, it’s fighty time, albeit with superior first-person narration. Gillen takes the opportunity to spell out his thinking on Namor, and there’s a nice little character moment with Colossus realising that if he truly fights to win, he’ll have to give in to the Juggernaut and just destroy everything in sight – which would kind of defeat the point. Basically, though, it’s a crossover issue.
Wolverine #305 - The first part of Cullen Bunn and Paul Pelletier’s “Rot” storyline – which I assume is going to be their only storyline, since it seems that after this, we’re getting that Jeph Loeb storyline we all hoped they’d forgotten about. Here, Bunn seems to be mainly tying up a loose end from Jason Aaron’s run: the fact that Dr Rot still had the ability to control Wolverine. So Wolverine is now investigating a string of killings which he knows perfectly well that he committed, and thankfully, he figures out pretty rapidly who he needs to be going against.
Aaron’s original storyline was more an exercise in surrealism and atmosphere, and in that context the oddball villain worked rather well. In comparison, Bunn is playing it more or less straight, and I’m not altogether sure how well Rot works in that context; he’s the sort of darkly camp maniac who would more often be found fighting Batman. Still, it’s very solidly executed, the art’s lovely, and I confess that there’s a part of me that’s pleased to see Marvel once again making an effort to tie up this sort of loose plot thread. For most of the last decade the attitude would have been that it ceased to be significant when the writer changed. Of course, this is an unusual case where Aaron rather obviously cleared out without wrapping up his storylines. But it’s still nice to have the feeling that stories are guaranteed some sort of resolution.
Wolverine and the X-Men #9 - Back to the crossover, though this book is taking the (generally more productive) approach of writing its own story in the margins of the main series.
The Phoenix is on its way back to Earth, and as it happens, this book’s cast includes a couple of characters with prior connections – Rachel Grey and Quentin Quire. And much of what follows is basically people reacting to the start of Avengers vs X-Men, but at least here we’re picking up on some of the details that the other books are glossing over.
That said, Rachel and Quentin do present something of a problem for the crossover plot. On one level, I entirely understand why the core series is glossing over them. It’s not their story, and the creators want to focus instead on the original Phoenix storyline from the late 70s, and the idea that Phoenix is a destructive force. On the other hand, acknowledging Rachel and Quentin begs the obvious question of why everyone’s so convinced that the return of the Phoenix is going to be destructive, or even all that significant, given that it’s been back several times to diminishing returns. Perhaps there’s just no satisfactory way to address that, and brazening it out is the best way. (“Everyone, Phoenix is coming back, and we all know what that means – a low-selling miniseries starring a minor character.”)
The issue ends with Gladiator making his way to Earth to try and get his son out of the Phoenix’s path, so it looks as though the focus in this book will indeed be on the regular cast rather than the crossover itself – which thus far has turned out to be really the Avengers versus Cyclops’ X-Men, with Wolverine’s crew sitting it out. For the moment, anyway. (Is that going to be the ending? The X-Men lose the first round but when they unite they kick ass?)
X-Factor #234 - God, how often is this book shipping? We’re already on to issue #235. Anyway… Madrox officially returns to the team and Monet throws a fit about the thought that Layla brought him back without a soul. (Which she didn’t.) Mainly, it’s an issue of those two squabbling, but that works better than you’d think because it’s so rare for Monet to get emotionally involved in this way. Consequently, it comes across as a bigger deal. Peter David’s very good at pitching these scenes so that they come across as significant, rather than simply out of character. Lovely art from Leonard Kirk, too.
X-Men #27 - The X-Men and the Forgiven fight a bunch of assorted mercenary characters. At the end Jubilee decides to stay with the Forgiven. And that’s basically it. Seriously, what do you want me to say about stories like this? It’s inoffensive for what it is.
X-Men: Legacy #265 - Technobabble abounds as Rogue, Mimic and Weapon Omega all face the risk of exploding with Mysterious Energy unless Hank can find some way of stopping it using Inexplicable Technology. But it’s a much better story than you’d think, since Christos Gage knows how to use this sort of thing as a backdrop for character work. It’s not just Rogue herself, so much as the other characters in the background discussing what the last-ditch fallback is going to be. There’s also a nice attempt to give the Mimic a bit of dignity as a character (he’s been a whipping boy for so many years that some major rehabilitation is required if he’s going to be used regularly anywhere), and the story does as all a favour by literally sticking Weapon Omega in the deep freeze.
Weapon Omega is a classic example of a character who didn’t work at all, on any level whatsoever. He’s a walking plot device without personality, who was subsequently shoehorned into a bunch of stories where he didn’t really belong. Dark X-Men and this book both attempt to turn that to some sort of advantage, by portraying him as a bit of a loser, yanked around by plot forces completely out of his control, and ultimately rather attracted to the idea of hitting the off switch. To a point, it works – I can’t say I have any desire to see him again, but by taking all the myriad problems with the character, and turning them into problems for the character, it’s been possible to wrap up his storyline in a more satisfying way than I would have expected.