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Jan 13

The X-Axis – 13 January 2013 (part 1)

Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2013 by Paul in x-axis

Podcast weekend!  The podcast is just below this post, and has plenty of reviews.  Go listen to it.

I’m still waiting for some of the books that I’m buying in physical form, so this is going to end up split over the course of the week.  But let’s do the two recent relaunches now.  (Actually, I’ve been toying with posting individual capsule reviews as separate posts anyway, rather than doing them all in a bunch on Sunday night.  We’ll see about that.)  Meantime…

Cable & X-Force #3 – This series got off to a rather slow start, but with this issue, it feels like it’s getting to the point.  Thank heavens it had the accelerated shipping schedule for those first few issues.

Cable’s premonitions become rather more precise here.  He’s expecting some sort of biological attack through a chain of fast food restaurants which kills humans but not mutants.  This, apparently, is going to be an important tipping point in history which leads to, etc, etc, you know the drill.

That’s a storyline that has its own problems, depending on how relaxed you’re prepared to be about history.  After all, some pretty bad things have happened in the past that were actually done by mutants, and they didn’t have the same impact – this issue even mentions Magneto’s attack on Manhattan at the end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, which would surely have been a bigger deal.  So you could query whether this is really a strong enough trigger to have the sort of consequence that the story demands of it.  On the other hand, that way lies an endless inflation of threat; there’s something to be said for pulling back a bit even at the cost of strict logic.

The chain in question, Eat-More, is a glaringly obvious stand-in for Chick-fil-A, a chain which doesn’t exist in Britain, but which I gather has attracted some controversy in America by publicly aligning itself with social conservatives.  Where the story gets slightly more clever is that Cable simply assumes that there’s no point just warning Eat-More because they’re obviously in on it.  And while they are indeed anti-mutant bigots, it turns out that they’re not.

And all this raises rather more interesting possibilities for what we saw in issue #1; the natural reading of a scene like that is that Cable has a fiendishly clever scheme which will be explained in due course, but this issue points more in the direction of the heroes having actually committed a massive, massive cock-up.  The threat is genuine and needs to be dealt with, but they’ve gone about it in entirely the wrong way and ended up causing all sorts of collateral damage which truly is their fault.  I’m guessing that the angle here is going to be that Cable decides he has to take the flak for this himself rather than have the backlash affects mutants generally.

I like that idea; it’s a nice change from having the heroes be hyper-competent all the time.  This version of X-Force are winging it and they’re not actually getting it right.  For the first time, that’s piqued my interest.

X-Men Legacy #4 – Basically an issue of the X-Men trying and failing to subdue Legion (though they do get the two mutant twins he rescued in the previous issue, which looks as though it’ll come back to bite them in due course).  It’s also the first issue of this book which actually feels to some extent like an X-Men story, though it’s not entirely clear whether that’s because they’ll be playing a regular part in the series, or simply because they’re being brought out as guest stars for the first arc.

Even so, it remains emphatically Legion’s solo title; the X-Men are written here as a bunch of thugs who need to chill out, with the arguable exception of Beast, who at least tries to be peacemaker.  I can’t help thinking Spurrier overplays this a bit.  Fair enough, the story is done from Legion’s point of view, and in that context the X-Men are the antagonists.  But I’m not sure the story has really done enough to justify them acting quite so aggressively towards Legion as they do here.  (Or David, rather – he expressly disavows the codename.)

The story seems to set up Blindfold as an opposite number for Legion; when she shows up in his own mind, she drops her normal speech patterns and talks normally, which seems a pretty clear suggestion that her problems are somehow helped by contact with him.  Nobody else is using Blindfold right now, and I can see the logic in pairing up the two eccentrics.  She’s a difficult character to write, though; she can easily become just a bundle of quirks without a personality underlying them all.  It’s quite encouraging, then, that Spurrier is clearly creating a set-up where he can cut past all that.

I’m not sold on this issue – a lot of it is based around a take on the X-Men that doesn’t quite convince me.  (And Spurrier still hasn’t figured out that David isn’t Scottish.)  But there are interesting ideas in here too, and overall the series remains promising.

Bring on the comments

  1. Kenny says:

    Part 1? Now I KNOW this is gonna be big. Can’t wait for Part 2! And I dropped X-Men: Legacy after Rogue left. Mike Carey did a good job writing Legion, but otherwise, I really don’t care about him enough to see him in his own series.

  2. Max says:

    That’s where I am with X-Men Legacy, too. I don’t care enough about Legion no matter how well his book may or may not be written. He’s a fine supporting character as far as it goes, but I’d rather have another trade on the shelf. Good to know Cable & X-Force is shaping up. I’ve had my eye on that one.

  3. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    I could well imagine that even if Spurrier has been told David’s origins, he and Marvel have decided it’s more important to be consistent with the previous 3 issues than with what came before. There’ll probably be a shoehorned-in explanation as soon as there’s room for one (didn’t he basically grow up on Muir Island, regardless of where he was born?)

  4. wwk5d says:

    I thought Legion was raised by his mother in Israel as a child, and then showed up in New Mutants Vol. 1 as a teenager?

    As for Cable & X-force…not sure if I’m fully on board, but it does show promise. Of course, I am a sucker for random generated teams featuring B and C list characters that I like (hey look, it’s Forge!). It just has a lot to live up to, given it’s predecessor…

  5. Julia says:

    Dear Al,

    The Rapture is an eschatological concept that comes from some very low-church, evangelical forms of Protestantism in the 19th century. It comes from an attempt to map out a seven-year end of the world scenario, and since those seven years are years of suffering and tribulation, these Protestant Christians believe that God would “snatch up” his people before this tribulation would begin.

    The Catholic Church holds to a more general understanding of the end of the world. It basically amounts to a Second Coming of Christ and a final judgment of the living and the dead. No seven-year time frame. No Rapture at all.

    Because of the popularity of Protestant Christian writers like Hal Lindsey in 1970 (The Late, Great Planet Earth) and Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in the late nineties (the Left Behind series), belief in the Rapture has gained popularity among Christians of many stripes, including some Catholics. However, the actual teachings of the Catholic Church preclude any such belief, and the Catholics who do believe in the Rapture tend to do so because they are ignorant of what their church actually teaches.

    Theologically yours,
    Julia

  6. Julia says:

    Gee, looks like other people already pointed this out, and I didn’t notice because I clicked the wrong link. My bad, Paul. Carry on!

  7. Chaos McKenzie says:

    Does anyone feel like Salvador doesn’t want to be doing X-Force? I felt his art has been considerably weaker for what I expect of him, especially on an X-book…

  8. Daibhid Ceannaideach says:

    @wwkd: You’re probably right; I just had a vague recollection of “first appeared as a teenager being treated in Moria’s clinic” and thought he’d probably been there all along.

    Checking the Marvel Database Wiki, it says Gabrielle was the Israeli envoy to Paris when David first went catatonic, so maybe he should have a French accent…

  9. Paul Fosten says:

    @Chaos: I’m finding it a lot less stiff than the IIM stuff so I’m quite enjoying it.

  10. Al says:

    Hi Julia! Yeah, I got that one ass-backward because of a combination of it not being a Protestant tenet I’ve encountered at all in the UK and Chuck Austen’s crappy X-Men. I am duly chastened!

  11. Matt C. says:

    Cable and X-Force definitely picked up, though it was somewhat at the cost of a huge exposition scene. In a couple issues we go from “Cable sees vague premonitions about horrible things happening” to “Cable knows exactly what’s going to happen right down to which fast food restaurant is involved.” Which is for the greater good, though, since it actually puts the plot in a good direction (as opposed to the waste of time that was issue #2 with Hope and Domino fighting the technovirus stuff).

  12. Tim O'Neil says:

    I just want to say that ever since I finished issue #5 I have been living in anticipation of Paul’s review of FIRST X-MEN. Unless I’m completely mistaken it explicitly contradicts the events of “Sabretooth Reborn.” Can’t wait to see the hammer and tongs come out for this one.

  13. errant says:

    Larroca hasn’t been quite right since they split him and Claremont up. He genuinely wanted to be drawing those kinds of stories, if you remember one of those interviews with him after they had forced him onto Jemas’s Namor Tsunami book.

  14. Si says:

    The Cable story does sound interesting. Amazing how some of these tropes remain untwisted after all these years.

    As for Legion, I kind of wonder if that’s not his core personality at all, and the accent and wrong history are actually deliberate hints.

    And finally, the Rapture is very interesting to me. It’s a very American religious phenomenon, being given an extra reward for being superior. Elsewhere in the world the reward is not going to Hell, you sinful bastard, but you probably will anyway, but the US invented a Business Class ticket to Heaven.

  15. Chaos McKenzie says:

    That’s why I was a little disappointed, I loved his art on Claremont’s Xtreme Xmen title, and was a little shocked by how badly Rogue looked in her brief cameo, considering the number of times he’s professed love for her.

    I didn’t find his stuff stiff on Iron Man though, so maybe I’m just noticing it now.

  16. Billy says:

    From my youth, I’d say the idea of the Rapture was popular in American churches because it gave preachers a more relatable “Hell on Earth” to talk about.

    You can try to sell the idea of eternal damnation, torment, a lake of fire, and the like, but it is a concept that is beyond human understanding.

    However, a post-Rapture Earth is much easier to grasp. The people you love have gone to Heaven, and you’re living a Hell on Earth scenario. The Rapture itself leads to accidents and chaos and a collapse of governments. Serial killers and criminals roam the streets. Demons are loosed. Etc.

    People can relate to the lost hope, fear, threats of physical violence and pain, and can still be hit with the “And it only gets WORSE, because death just takes you to a hell that makes the world you just left look like a picnic!”

  17. clay says:

    Re: The Rapture

    Fred Clark posits on his Slacktivist blog that the doctrine of the Rapture is really anti-Christian. (It’s certainly not Biblical, except for a strained interpretation of one verse in Matthew.)

    Some Christians seem to actually *root* for the Apocalypse, seem to actually *want* to be raptured. They do this out of a fear of death. They want to skip the middle part and go right to Heaven without going through the pain, sorrow, and suffering that is part of being human.

    “Sure, most of humanity will undergo Hell on Earth, perish miserably, and then go to actual Hell in Hell, but it’s okay because *I* won’t have to die.”

    Anyway, Fred argues (and I agree) that this is the exact opposite of the purpose of Jesus and of traditional Church beliefs. Part of the point of Jesus is that we *don’t* have to fear death, that death is *not* the end, that pain and suffering is only temporary.

    To be so frightened of death (we’re talking end-of-a-long-life-natural-causes) that you’d condemn most of humanity to the horrors of the Apocalypse is to deny the sacrifice of Jesus. Thus, anti-Christian.

    What were we talking about?

  18. Somebody says:

    Clay> What were we talking about?

    En Sabah Nur, and how he is the rock on the eternal shore that all must crash against and be broken :p

  19. Si says:

    “En Sabah Nur, and how he is the rock on the eternal shore that all must crash against and be broken”

    Suddenly I want to see Apocalypse on lead guitar doing awesome power chords.

  20. The original Matt says:

    The x-villain band? Cool. I’ve always heard stoners do the Star Wars band (it’s usually darth on bass and chewie on drums) but not an x-villain band.

    I’ll go first.

    Juggernaut on drums
    Sabretooth on lead guitar (cause he can shred)
    Apocalypse on bass
    Magneto as “custom percussionist”
    Mystique on lead vocals
    Pyro on rhythm guitar
    Avalanche on scratchy deck and “rap breakdowns”
    Toad as the drunk roadie the band light firecrackers on when he passes out on the tour bus.

  21. Max says:

    Clay, that’s an interesting take. Usually when I hear Rapture I think of Kirk Cameron and my eyes glaze over.

  22. Mike says:

    Larroca is one of those artists who is regularly changing and ‘evolving’ his style. However, in doing so, I think he’s gone wrong a bit – his Rogue did look bad and some of the profiles on the characters seemed a little simple for him. I think his work for X-treme X-men was his best to date.

    Keith Giffen is another one of those artists regularly changing his style. His peak (for me) was during his early years with Levitz on Legion. It was beautiful. Then he went kind of cartoony, then blocky and rough, then almost identical to Kevin Maguire for a bit, then Jack Kirby-ish, and now it’s a cross between Kirby-ish and cartoony (which I’ve grown to actually kinda like – but it took a bit).

    Tony Daniel is another one. I thought he popped out of nowhere on Teen Titans and found his stuff very stiff looking – still do. So it really surprised me to discover (as I was going back through old comics) that he was actually on X-Force back in the 90′s and I LOVED his work. Yeah, it was more in the Image style but it was fluid and energetic. I still can’t quite reconcile his work on X-Force with the artist on Teen Titans (or anything he’s currently doing). I feel like he devolved.

  23. D. says:

    The Brotherhood:

    Spiral on drums
    Super Saber/Pyro on lead guitar
    Avalanche/Stonewall on bass
    Mystique on lead vocals
    Crimson Commando on rhythm guitar
    Toad & Blob as roadies/bouncers

    The Marauders:

    Vertigo on bass
    Sabertooth on rhythm guitar & vocals
    Prism on Mellotron
    Scrambler on Hammond Organ
    Harpoon on percussion
    Arclight on drums
    Riptide on lead guitar

  24. I Grok Spock says:

    Malice on Backwards Satanic Messages

  25. LeoCrow says:

    Why does everyone insist on Mystique as the lead vocalist? She never struck me as a good vocalist. Maybe she could do background vocals to Sabretooth? I would listen to that

  26. Well, presumably, Mystique can shift her vocal chords to sound like any lead singer she wants. There’s some versatility in that.

  27. M says:

    Mystique has too much rock star attitude to let anyone else be the lead.

    And she can imitate any voice she’s heard. Imagine the range and versatility. Can’t write a song though. Pyro and Avalanche write. Avalanche’s songs a more introspective sometimes brooding. Pyro’s are more lighthearted and peppy.

  28. The original Matt says:

    Person of con got it, whether you want cannibal corpse or Pavarotti, mystique has it all.

    And the look wouldn’t have to effect the voice, imagine if a hot pop star sounded like James hetfield. You’d get twice as many guys in the door.

  29. Pyro used to be a successful writer of Gothic romances before the whole supervillain thing, didn’t he? That should translate into some… interesting… songs.

  30. The original Matt says:

    Just sounds like he’d write some emo garbage, really.

  31. Si says:

    “imagine if a hot pop star sounded like James hetfield.”

    Doro’s been in the business for decades.

  32. Joseph says:

    Though I realise the point is something of a dead horse at this point, I’ve chosen to charitably look at Legion’s nationality shift as a function of having had to rebuild his psyche after his powers manifested. As there have been several stories (especially recently) running with the theme of him having to rebuild himself, it follows to some extent that the personality which pulls itself out of the massive personality split may have internalized the atmosphere in which he was “reborn.” As such, even if he originally wouldn’t have had a Scottish accent, he may have simply internalized some amount of Moira’s accent in the process of re-emerging. Given that A v. X suggested that the maternal personality he created was, to his mind “Moira” that doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch. I’m not sure that works in real world psychology, but it seems sensible enough for Comic Book Psychology.

  33. The original Matt says:

    I forgot about doro! Ha. I saw her live about 10 years ago.

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