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Dec 3

A.X.E.: Judgment Day

Posted on Saturday, December 3, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

A.X.E.: JUDGMENT DAY #1-6
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Valerio Schiti
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Tom Brevoort

There are a number of ways of doing a line wide crossover. You can try and give every book something to do that contributes meaningfully to the plot, but beyond a certain point that’s insane. You can throw in a bunch of side quests to provide busy work for the tie-ins, but that has its limits too. Generally the best approach is to have a high concept that everyone can use as a springboard for their own story in the margins, without having to worry too much about the core plot. That’s the Judgment Day approach: a day of the Progenitor judging literally everyone on Earth, which naturally includes the cast of every other title that might want to do a tie-in. This can go wrong if it turns out that there’s really only one story to be told with the concept, in which case things get painfully repetitive – that’s what happened with Secret Invasion – but since Judgment Day functions as a hook for whatever character work a book feels like doing, it avoided that problem.

So, it works as an event concept. What about the actual story?

Although it’s billed as an Avengers, X-Men and Eternals crossover, Judgment Day is principally the final act of Kieron Gillen’s Eternals run. That’s the book where all the big changes take place, and the storyline of Ajak and her relationship with her programmed religion comes to a climax. The Eternals have their status quo changed, the secret of their immortality exposed, and a new ruler put in place. It’s very much their story.

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Dec 2

Charts – 2 December 2022

Posted on Friday, December 2, 2022 by Paul in Music

It’s the first chart of December, what did you think was going to happen?

1. Taylor Swift – “Anti-Hero”

That’s six weeks. Still two weeks to go until it matches LF System’s “Afraid to Feel” – in fact, three number ones this year have had longer runs than six weeks.

18. Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”

Right, then, here we go. “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” was recorded in 1958, and reached number 6 in the UK at Christmas 1962. It did nothing in the early years of the streaming era, but it’s charted every year since 2016. Last year, it made its all time peak of number 5.

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Nov 25

Charts – 25 November 2022

Posted on Friday, November 25, 2022 by Paul in Music

From the look of it, we’re now in the holding pattern where it’s too near to Christmas for anyone to bother releasing big singles, but the Christmas takeover hasn’t hit yet. Which means…

1. Taylor Swift – “Anti-Hero”

Five weeks. The previous number 1, “Unholy” by Sam Smith & Kim Petras, spends its fifth week at number 2. You get the idea. The only new record in the top 10 is…

9. Clavish featuring D-Block Europe – “Rocket Science”

This is the debut hit for North London rapper Clavish, though he’s placed a few tracks in the lower reaches of the top 75. Obviously having D-Block Europe on the track helps, but it’s not as if they routinely get into the top 10 either – in fact, their only previous top 10 hit was “Overseas”, which reached number 6 last year. It’s familiar musical territory if you’re heard DBE before, but it’s one of the good ones.

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Nov 24

X-Force #34 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 24, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #34
“Blackout”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Chris Allen
Colourist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: Domino, Wolverine, Deadpool and Maverick in space, with the face of Sevyr Blackmore behind, and Beast’s hidden prison moon in the background.

PAGES 2-4. Sage monologues about her drinking.

A montage sequence in which Sage basically tells us that relentless exposure to trauma in her work is driving her to drink.

There’s a lot of apparently Krakoan text on these pages:

  • In page 2 panel 3, the word by her left thumb is DATASET.
  • The message scrolling over her left hand is DATASET MASTER followed by a third word that doesn’t seem to be Krakoan at all.
  • The word to the right of the caption seems to be ARCHIVE, but with the A represented by the symbol that was used in Excalibur to represent The Artist Formerly Known As Apocalypse.
  • To the right of that, ARCHIVE again, but with the correct Krakoan.
  • The symbols on the far right aren’t Krakoan, but seem to match the third word from the message above.
  • In page 3 panel 2, both words just say DATASET again.
  • In page 4 panel 1, the word on the screen seems to be just random symbols, while the symbols floating around Sage don’t seem to be actual Krakoan text at all. I guess they’re intended to represent generic text and information overload.

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Nov 23

X-Men #17 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

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

X-MEN vol 6 #17
“Size Matters”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Joshua Cassara
Colourist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Magik leads the team into action, in a generic action shot with no particular relevance to the issue.

PAGE 2. Data page. Forge’s opening quote comes from his scene with Caliban on page 23. Obviously, given what we already saw Forge do to Caliban in the previous issue, the correct answer to this question is “absolutely not”.

PAGE 3. Synch is summoned from the Treehouse.

Synch wasn’t with the rest of the team for this mission, presumably because he already spent centuries of subjective time there (ending in vol 5 #19) and finds it too upsetting. Arguably he’d have vital intelligence for anyone going into the Vault but (a) they can always get that information from him telepathically, (b) it will have changed beyond recognition since he was last there, and (c) the X-Men are not monsters. With the possible exception of Forge.

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Nov 22

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #59: “The Fall of the House of X”

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #59
“The Fall of the House of X”
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Nick Roche
Colourist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

This issue came out on Hallowe’en, and it has a rather charming approach to that theme: it’s basically an old fashioned horror anthology story, framed by campfire scenes where Cypher acts as the storyteller.

It’s not just a random anthology story, though; it’s Tales from the Hidden Past of Krakoa. According to Cypher, after the island was separated from Arakko, it spend most of its time dormant. Unless it was disturbed. This story is about 19th century mutant Silas Ellerby, heading to the Americas with his wife to make their fortune when their boat sinks. Silas winds up on Krakoa, and since he’s a mutant, the island perks up a bit and takes notice.

Unfortunately for Krakoa, Silas’s powers just happen to be control over the Earth (at least the bit around him), which includes Krakoa. So instead of Krakoa being able to eat him, he sets about tearing Krakoa apart in order to build rafts (which don’t work) and a mansion in tribute to his late wife (which does, but that doesn’t resolve the lack of food problem). And without him realising what’s happening, Krakoa tries to find ways to calm him down, get rid of him, or at least placate him. Which, of course, ultimately involves Krakoa hunting for the shipwreck.

It’s a nice little idea – a pleasantly traditional story concept from the House of Mystery style, and a more inventive way of approaching the Hallowe’en remit than just chucking some zombies at the page. Nick Roche, best known for his Transformers work, is a very good storyteller and his design for the makeshift mansion gets the right mix of impressive and wonky.

The last panel misfires – I know the original genre often involved the narrator spelling out the moral for everyone’s benefit, but it feels too much here. Something a bit more ambiguous would have been more effective, I think. On the whole, though, a nice little holiday issue.

 

Nov 22

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #56-58: “X-Friends”

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #56-58
“X-Friends” 
Writer & artist: Jason Loo
Colourist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

This is a sequel to the three-part “Downtime” arc featuring Madrox and Strong Guy, also by Jason Loo, which ran in issues #21, #27 and #34 (because X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic is a weird book).

As in the previous arc, Strong Guy wants to hang out with his old pal Madrox, while Madrox is more preoccupied with his responsibilities as a father, leaving Guido stuck with the duplicates. They’re off in the Shi’ar galaxy for the equivalent of a weekend in Vegas, and manage to lose their ship as well as a bunch of dupes.

It turns out, of course, that the dupes took the ship, and for some reason a night on the town has convinced them to… go off and become pirates? I’m not sure that’s how it’s meant to work. Somehow or other there’s meant to be an angle in here where Madrox decides that he needs to solve his problems for himself rather than palming them off on dupes, but since that’s not really what he did wrong in the first place, it doesn’t quite land. And it’s not really a Guido story at all.

So they track down the renegade dupes, Madrox absorbs most of them, and one of them just gets handed over to the authorities to take the fall for everything. It’s pretty lightweight stuff, even for Unlimited, with the highlight being the character work in Loo’s art. As for the story, it just doesn’t click.

Nov 21

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #50-55: “Secret X-Men 2022”

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #50-55
“Secret X-Men 2022”
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artist: Alan Robinson
Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Jordan D White

Continuing our run through the recent X-Men Unlimited arcs, here’s something a bit more typical of the book – which is to say, a bit more marginal. Remember last year’s Secret X-Men one-shot, featuring all the losing candidates from the fan vote that decided the last place on the team? Well, it’s that, but with the 2022 line-up.

I didn’t think this really worked last year, since the characters weren’t selected to be the natural cast of a story in the first place, and it winds up being a bit of an exercise in pulling some elements out of a hat and seeing if you can get a story out of them. And this year… yeah, not dissimilar, if we’re being honest. This is a Hellfire Gala tie-in story, though I’m not reviewing it quite as late as that makes it sound. It ran from the last week of August to the first week of September; the actual Hellfire Gala one-shot shipped in mid July. I suppose that probably means they waited to see who had won the vote before they started work on this, which would be fair enough.

So who have we got here? Well, we’ve got Penance, who is unexpectedly at a loose end after X-Corp suffered early cancellation. We’ve got Siryn, who also counts as a reasonably big name. We’ve got a whole bunch of teen characters who aren’t doing much – Gentle, Armor, Surge and Bling!. I guess Bling! was in the Sabretooth miniseries, but this must be the most prominent appearance Armor has made outside Marvel Snap in several years. We’ve got Avalanche, the member of Freedom Force who never comes up, even though Mystique, Destiny and Pyro are big names. And we’ve got Micromax, who was very, very briefly a member of Excalibur at the tail end of Alan Davis’s run, treated here as a bit of a joke character.

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Nov 20

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #44-49: X-Men Green III

Posted on Sunday, November 20, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #44-49
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Jordan D White

For those of you who aren’t subscribed to Marvel Unlimited – or who just aren’t interested in reading all six or so Infinity Comics that come out each week – X-Men Unlimited remains the closest the line comes to a core title. There are Unlimited titles for the Avengers and Spider-Man books too, but they’re peripheral – the Spider-Man one is quite keen on doing Spider-Verse stories, for example. X-Men Unlimited is like that about half of the time, but also has running stories that it returns to, the main one being “X-Men Green”.

The tone of these stories has noticeably shifted from the first arc with Gerry Duggan. By accident or design, that arc winds up trying to have its cake and eat it, by being half-heartedly disapproving of Nature Girl’s eco-terrorism, but with a definite overtone of “yeah but corporations amirite”. We’re meant to basically agree with Krakoa letting them escape, after all. Over the following arcs – this is the third – the tone has shifted emphatically to “dangerous lunatics”. Of the group, only Nature Girl is really even motivated by environmentalism, and even she has lost touch with reality, allowing her to be manipulated by Hordeculture (who, for the most part, are played as straight villains in this story). Sauron has weird obsessions about avenging the dinosaurs, and Curse just likes having an excuse to destroy stuff.

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Nov 19

Knights of X

Posted on Saturday, November 19, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

KNIGHTS OF X #1-5
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

So before you ask, yes, this did finish a while back, but the collected edition isn’t out till December, and that makes this Still Timely. Somewhat. My plan right now is to clear the backlog of minis and completed Infinite Comics that I haven’t written about yet, and then go back and catch up on ongoing titles that I’m writing about as they come out anyway – but since Knights of X wound up being a five issue series, let’s cover it here.

Marvel’s approach to this series is… let’s say confusing, shall we? It’s the sequel to Excalibur, a book that had its fans, but I had a few problems with. Part of that was that magic stories have never really been my thing where the X-books are concerned, and that’s just a matter of taste. But part of it was that the book always rang painfully false to me when it went anywhere near Britain, and since a major part of the plot was “who gets to be Captain Britain”, that was a big problem.

So Knights of X, refocussing the book simply on Otherworld, seemed to me like a good move. It was focussing on the book’s strengths and letting it get on with some world building. It was clearly intended to be an ongoing title, and it winds up being cancelled after five issues. Okay. These things happen. But… it’s then being relaunched again in 2023, with the same writer, as Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain. That’s just weird. That’s mixed signals if ever I saw them.

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