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Apr 24

Rise of the Powers of X #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

RISE OF THE POWERS OF X #4
“Sentinel X”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: R.B. Silva
Colour artist: David Curiel
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: A distraught Professor X, in his Cerebro helmet, in a field of flaming skulls. Presumably that’s Krakoa in the background.

PAGE 2. Paul Neary obituary.

PAGES 3-6. Professor X frees Mother Righteous and kills Rasputin.

This picks up directly from the end of issue #3, where Professor X was persuaded to switch tack and try Rachel’s plan of resurrecting the Phoenix as a means of defeating Enigma. As we establish later on, the reason why Professor X is killing Rachel and Rasputin is so that the Five can resurrect them in the White Hot Room – being the only available means of actually getting them there.

“You have the power to stop Rasputin, yes?” Mother Righteous’ magic gives her control over anyone who’s thanked her in the past, until she cashes that favour in. She used up most of her power in the White Hot Room by cashing in the general thanks that she was given by the whole population of Krakoa (in the closing issues of Immortal X-Men), but clearly she hasn’t cashed in her thanks for Rasputin yet. I’m not sure we ever saw Rasputin thank her on panel, but she regarded Mother Righteous as a saviour in Sins of Sinister: Dominion, so she’ll doubtless have thanked her somewhere along the line.

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Apr 21

Daredevil Villains #21: Death’s-Head

Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2024 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #56-57 (September & October 1969)
“…And Death Came Riding!” / “In the Midst of Life…!”
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Gene Colan
Inker: Syd Shores
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colourist: not credited
Editor: Stan Lee

With the Starr Saxon storyline that he inherited from Stan Lee out of the way, Roy Thomas moves on to his own stories. Thomas often liked to dust off forgotten characters from earlier issues, but apparently he didn’t find Daredevil’s rogue’s gallery all that inspiring. Instead, he bombards the book with new villains during his run. First up is Death’s-Head, not to be confused with the more popular Transformers-adjacent character.

In our previous instalment, Daredevil faked Matt Murdock’s death in order to thwart Starr Saxon’s blackmail scheme. Karen Page was  distraught about that, and Daredevil made matters even worse by stealing his cane back from her. But never mind, because Starr Saxon is now dead, and Daredevil can break the good news to her that Matt is alive. So our story opens with Daredevil swinging merrily across town to see her, showing absolutely no signs of concern about the distress that he’s put her through. The man is a psychopath.

But when Matt arrives at Foggy’s office, Karen isn’t there. She’s decided to go home and see her family. We learn that Karen is the daughter of Dr Paxton Page – “the man who perfected the cobalt bomb.” A cobalt bomb was a type of nuclear bomb designed to make the target area especially uninhabitable, which seems like overkill in the event of World War III, but there you go. It was supposed to be a thought experiment to support the argument that nuclear weapons were too dangerous to exist. Roy Thomas was particularly keen on the threat of cobalt bombs; he had created the Cobalt Man for X-Men in 1967.

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Apr 19

The X-Axis – w/c 15 April 2024

Posted on Friday, April 19, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #135. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Phillip Sevy, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. Well, apparently we’re going with Sunspot versus Gideon as a huge showdown that everyone’s been waiting for. And… I mean, it’s a storyline from thirty years ago that hardly ever comes up. Even I barely remember anything about it. Seemed like a big deal in early X-Force, never came to anything much? Something like that. At any rate, it’s the sort of continuity reference that’s fine for a bit of background colour but hardly carries the weight of being the hook for an issue. You’re going to have to work a lot harder than this to persuade me to care about Gideon in 2024.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #4. (Annotations here.) Fall of the House of X is feeling a little more coherent than it was when it started, but it’s still not pulling off the epic feel. Apocalypse rounding up mutants to sacrifice themselves to kickstart Krakoa – okay, that kind of works. It’s the sort of thing that you can imagine making sense to Apocalypse and some of the guys from Arakko. But the material with the X-Men and Orchis just feels rather rushed. The art doesn’t give a sense of a grand scale, the plot feels truncated, and the whole thing is just rough around the edges. It’s like reading an outline.

DEAD X-MEN #4. (Annotations here.) Not a great week, this. The final issue of Dead X-Men is okay at best, but doesn’t stand up to much thought. You can see how this miniseries made sense as a pitch. The X-Men who died at the Hellfire Gala get a chance to be a team; we visit some of Moira’s past lives; and it can all feed in to Rise of the Powers of X around the edges. It looks decent enough and it has a reasonable shot of providing closure by looping us back to the first issue. But… aside from Prodigy, literally any bunch of characters could have been in this series, and the book never finds anything much to do with its specific set of characters. Ideally you’d want this book to make a case for its cast as a great lost X-roster, and it doesn’t do that. And the plot mechanics boil down to some arbitrary stuff happening in order to bring about a result which arbitrarily advances the plot of Rise. It’s not like anything very meaningful happened during the visits to Moira’s past lives, and I just don’t buy that anything was actually learned from the exercise.

Apr 18

Dead X-Men #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

DEAD X-MEN #4
“Hyperballad”
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artists; David Baldeón, Bernard Chang & Vincenzo Carratù
Colour artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The X-Men fight their alt-Moira.

PAGE 2. Paul Neary obituary.

PAGES 3-4. The X-Men and Moira are dragged back through time.

Issue #3 ended with the cyborg alt-Moira from issue #1 attacking the X-Men and their local counterparts in Moira’s fifth life. This turns out to be a bit of an anticlimax, as Dazzler calls on Rachel to haul them all back through time and bring Moira with them.

The montage on page 4 shows scenes from Moira’s earlier lives.

  • Top left: Moira sees Professor X in a bar in her second life. This is page 8 panel 4 of House of X #2.
  • To the right of that, a generic-looking campus scene. By elimination, this is probably meant to be her uneventful first life.
  • On the second tier, on the left, Destiny threatens Moira before killing her in her third life.
  • To the right of that, a Sentinel blasts Professor X and Moira in her fourth life. This is page 17 panel 4 of House of X #2.
  • Below that, Moira and Logan in the Preserve in her sixth life.
  • In the bottom tier, on the left, Moira and a wheelchair-bound Xavier in a futuristic city. This is Moira’s fifth life, where they built a mutant city.
  • To the right of that, Moira with a sniper rifle, about to kill one of the Trask family. This is her seventh life.
  • Next, Moira approaches Magneto. This is her eighth life, and specifically page 21 panel 2 of House of X #2.
  • To the right of that, Moira with Apocalypse. This is her ninth life.
  • And finally, above Frenzy’s head, a generic head shot of Moira, presumably representing her tenth and present life (from the perspective of this divergent Moira).

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Apr 17

Fall of the House of X #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF X #4
“The Turn”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Jucas Werneck & Jethro Morales
Colour artist: Bryan Valenza
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Moira and Cyclops fight.

PAGE 2. Paul Neary obituary.

PAGE 3. Data page (!). The opening quote is Magneto’s line “Promise me you’ll watch Charles… Three began Krakoa. Moira betrayed us. I… deserted my post. Now Charles is alone with his dream.” This is from Magneto’s death scene in X-Men Red #7, which has since been positioned as foreshadowing for Professor X caving to Orchis’ demands in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. That in turn ties to Professor X’s role in this issue, of which more later.

PAGES 4-6. Apocalypse leads his forces against Orchis.

Up in the sky are the two crossed space stations from the previous issue.

Apocalypse and his forces have arrived in time to save Krakoa from Orchis. Krakoa has been on the run from them ever since issue #1. As Apocalypse points out, Krakoa feeds off mutant energy, which wasn’t a problem when it had a whole mutant population and could take trivial amounts from each one. Without the mutants around, he’s been starving, so Apocalypse needs to offer up some life force.

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Apr 13

The X-Axis – w/c 8 April 2024

Posted on Saturday, April 13, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #134. By Steve Foxe & Steve Orlando, Phillip Sevy, Yen Nitro & Travis Lanham. Well, at least this issue has a fun bit which uses the vertical scrolling quite effectively for a leap across the room during an action sequence. Other than that, I don’t know what I can say that I haven’t said before. We’re apparently building to a fight between Sunspot and Gideon, and… um, that doesn’t feel to me like much of a hook in 2024. God, we must have another month of this to go. (Sighs deeply.)

RESURRECTION OF MAGNETO #4. (Annotations here.) At first glance, it seems like an odd choice to do three rather abstract issues venturing into the afterlife and then end on a final issue of Magneto joining the fight against Orchis – even if the crossover context might make that unavoidable. But it fits better than you’d expect, since this issue isn’t really concerned with the crossover at all; it’s about what Magneto has learned from the last few issues and how he chooses to put that into practice when fighting the Orchis footsoldiers. It’s an issue of Magneto trying to be responsible, though he gets boxed into a corner where he winds up killing the Orchis guys anyway. I’m not convinced that the colour coding thing works – red doesn’t really work as symbolising a middle path for Magneto when it’s the colour most associated with his Silver Age persona as a one-dimensional villain, while the black and white versions of his costume come from much later stories that are much more nuanced – but the basic positioning of Magneto coming out the story works, and the way that the art makes Magneto look traditionally heroic plays nicely against all that.

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Apr 11

Wolverine #47 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 6 #47
“Sabretooth War, part 7: Bad Seed”
Writers: Victor LaValle & Benjamin Percy
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colour artist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Wolverine (Laura) fights the “Savage” alt-Sabretooth.

PAGE 2. Paul Neary obituary.

PAGES 3-5. Laura escapes her cage.

Laura cut this control collar off one of the beheaded Sabretooth drones last issue. Apparently, the collars trigger the security systems, so once the others are at a safe distance, she’s able to use it to escape. This doesn’t seem like a very good security system, but she is dealing with a whole crew of Sabretooths.

PAGE 6. Recap and credits.

PAGES 7-8. Wolverine and Sabretooth fight.

This picks up directly from the end of the previous issue, where Sabretooth had just zapped Wolverine with Forge’s de-powering gun. Note that even though this is Wolverine’s book (where he’s normally the narrator), Sabretooth is the narrator in this scene, and Wolverine only gets a single line of dialogue. In fact, Wolverine doesn’t get any more proper dialogue until the final page of the issue.

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Apr 10

Resurrection of Magneto #4 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 by Paul in Annotations

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

RESURRECTION OF MAGNETO #4
“Reawakening”
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Luciano Vecchio
Colour artists: David Curiel & Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Magneto attacks Orchis footsoldiers. He’s in his black costume, rather than the red one worn in the issue.

PAGE 2. Obituary for Paul Neary.

PAGE 3. Magneto advances towards Orchis soldiers.

As in previous issues, this opening splash page is a tarot reference – it’s loosely based on the Rider-Waite version of the Hierophant. That card doesn’t show the Hierophant with three helmets, but it does show him in a purple cape between two pillar type structures, raising his right hand in the same position as Magneto here, and with two worshippers in the position of the two Orchis footsoldiers. It also has two crossed keys lying on the floor, replaced here by two Orchis cards.

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Apr 7

Daredevil Villains #20: Starr Saxon

Posted on Sunday, April 7, 2024 by Paul in Daredevil

We’re skipping Daredevil #48, which is another Stilt-Man story. And with that, we’ve reached the end of Stan Lee’s run as writer.

DAREDEVIL #49-55
(January to August 1969)
Writer: Stan Lee (#49-50, 53), Roy Thomas (#51-55)
Pencillers: Gene Colan (#49, #53-55), Barry Smith (#50-52)
Inker: George Klein (#49, #51, #53-54), Johnny Craig (#50, #52), Syd Shores (#55)
Letterer: Artie Simek (#49, #51, #53-55), Herb Cooper (#50), Sam Rosen (#52)
Colourist: not credited
Editor: Stan Lee

You only have to look at those credits to see that this is a bit chaotic. Perhaps Stan Lee was keen to stick around until issue #50 because it was a nice round number. But instead of ending his run with a grand finale, Lee hands the book over to Roy Thomas in mid storyline. And the story just keeps going, in the book’s longest arc to date. In practice it’s really six issues rather than seven – issue #53 is a fill-in with a token framing sequence to continue the plot – but that’s still far longer than any continuous arc so far, and far longer than anything we’ll get in the rest of Roy Thomas’ run. The Masked Marauder hung around for the better part of a year, but that was as a recurring villain. This is one continuing arc.

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Apr 5

The X-Axis – w/c 1 April 2024

Posted on Friday, April 5, 2024 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #133. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Nick Roche, Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, Travis Lanham. Look, there’s only so much I can say each week about an endless, rambling storyline with no apparent point beyond being a farewell tour. I can sort of see how that might work in theory, but what we’re actually getting feels very unfocussed. It feels almost as if it’s intended to come across as a victory lap. And while there’s still good stuff out there, the Krakoan era as a whole isn’t going out in a way that can pull off a victory lap.

X-MEN #33. (Annotations here.) Speaking of which. Not that this is an especially bad issue in its own right. It’s obviously making an effort to tie up loose ends, provide a bit of resolution, and generally clear away some of the dead wood so that Fall and Rise can take a clear run at the AI opposition. It does all that quite efficiently. Shinobi Shaw even shows up for a couple of pages, and he’s a character I actually am interesting in checking in on during Fall of X. It doesn’t have the mad-scramble feel of some other contributions to this crossover (though it seems to have been written in complete ignorance of Callisto’s role in Dark X-Men). At the same time, it doesn’t feel epic either, and the character moments rarely land. It’s mainly just the plot moving from A to B in quite a simplistic way. This isn’t how you want Krakoa to go out.

AVENGERS #12. By Jed MacKay, Francesco Mortarino, Federico Blee & Cory Petit. This is the first half of a Fall of the House of X tie-in. It’s also written by Jed MacKay, who’s one of the incoming writers for Whatever The Hell Is Coming Next. Don’t expect any particular pointers about that, though. MacKay’s Avengers is in the model of the sort of Justice League story where the big names go up against grand sweeping ideas. It does that well, but it’s not the way he approaches other books and I’d be surprised if it was the way he approached X-Men. This issue plugs Orchis into the villain of the week role (which has the downside that Orchis is a much weaker concept than most of the ones in this book have been, at least when it’s used as a straight anti-mutant organisation). Part of the story is intended to rationalise why the Avengers have been ignoring Orchis until now – they’ve been waiting for Iron Man’s cue that it’s time to move, basically, and now they get to go around smashing up a lot of Orchis stuff so that the X-Men don’t have to worry about it. The other part of the story, which is the actual hook, involves the 3-D Man resurfacing as an ally of Orchis, who’s been off panel until now because he’s supposed to be tasked with keeping the Avengers occupied, and they haven’t actually done anything until now. It’s not the best issue of this Avengers run, but in terms of the bad guys getting smashed up in a brightly optimistic way, Mortarino’s art is a better fit than what we’re getting in X-Men.