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Oct 1

Daredevil Villains #4: The Purple Man

Posted on Sunday, October 1, 2023 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #4 (October 1964)
“Killgrave, the Unbelievable Purple Man!”
Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Penciller: Joe Orlando
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Colourist: not credited

“You’re about to meet possibly the most off-beat, far-out, ding-dong, rootin’-tootin’ crackerjack super-villain you just ever did see!”

Such was Stan Lee’s vision of the Purple Man, as set out on the splash page of his debut. Things have changed. Today, as the nemesis of Jessica Jones, the Purple Man is the most high profile character from Daredevil‘s early issues. But he’s also now a character who needs a trigger warning. Look, there it was. This is the debut of a character who goes on to be a horrific abuser – in the TV version, an unambiguous rapist. What the hell happened?

On his own account, Zebediah Killgrave was a “spy for a foreign power” who got caught sneaking into an army ordnance depot. He got drenched in an experimental nerve gas which turned him purple and gave him the power to make people obey him. Being a villain already, he decides to use this power for world domination. It’s never entirely clear how he thinks that’s going to work, given that his power only works at close range. But that’s the goal.


Sep 29

The X-Axis – w/c 25 September 2023

Posted on Friday, September 29, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

EDIT: Oh, hey, I completely forgot about Ms Marvel: The New Mutant #2. That’ll happen when there’s still no functioning subscription mechanism for digital comics. Ideally, Marvel would dump Amazon entirely and use Marvel Unlimited as their primary vehicle for selling new comics, since for all its problems, it’s still a vastly better product than anything Amazon has to offer. But anyway, I’ll add Ms Marvel to the bottom of this post, and in the meantime…

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #106. By Steve Foxe, Steve Orlando, Lynne Yoshii, Fer Sifuentes & Travis Lanham. You might remember that the epilogue to X-Men #24 has Magik dropping off Sunfire in Otherworld so that he can look for the missing Redroot – and then jumped forward to “X Months Later” with Sunfire and Redroot on the verge of death in a blizzard. Well, this is the start of that storyline, which feels a lot more consequential than the last few issues already. After all the point of rescuing Redroot isn’t just to free her, it’s to let people talk to Arakko. Which seems like iti might be important to X-Men Red.

So, in this first part, a characteristically overconfident Sunfire shows up at the Crooked Market and simply demands that Jim Jaspers hand Redroot over. As it turns out, Jaspers has got so bored waiting for anyone to remember this storyline that he’s already got rid of Redroot, so he does a typically questionable deal with Sunfire and then packs him off on a quest across Otherworld to rescue her. And that’s what we’re getting, from the sound of it – Sunfire tours Otherworld. Fair enough, as an opening scene. I’m not the biggest fan of Otherworld, but nobody else is using it right now, and it feels like there could be some potential in putting Sunfire there, because he doesn’t exactly seem like the type to be charmed by whimsical fantasy either.

JEAN GREY #2. (Annotations here.) Well, it looks like we really are doing four issues of What If…? with Jean Grey centred storylines, the loose idea being that this is her personality reconstituting itself after death, or finding its way back to life, or something. That’s all fine with me, though I have to wonder if it’s really what people were expecting from a Fall of X tie-in.


Sep 28

Realm of X #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Lost Lamb”
Writer: Torunn Grønbekk
Artist: Diógenes Neves
Colour artist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Clayton Crain
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Lauren Amaro

COVER / PAGE 1: Magik fights Typhoid. Nothing very much like this happens in the issue.

PAGES 2-3. Flashback: Curse at the Hellfire Gala.

This is X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 from Curse’s perspective. We did indeed see her in that issue, and it wasn’t clear what she was doing at the Gala in the first place, given that she’s a child. She explains here that she snuck in with some friends.

On Curse’s account, when Professor X told the mutants to leave through the gates, everyone panicked, and Magik bundled her through the gate. Curse grudgingly accepts that she’s being forced to leave, but lashes out with her powers, apparently forcing her group to go somewhere different from everywhere else. This isn’t what we saw in the original story: in that issue, Curse is picked up and bundles through the gate by Marrow, Magik, Mirage and Dust, all of whom are apparently under Professor X’s control. Curse uses her powers to curse Professor X directly, just as she is forced to leave (“Damn you, Charles. Curse you, you bald piece of…”)


Sep 27

Jean Grey #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

JEAN GREY vol 2 #2
“Dead Reckoning”
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colourist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1: Jean with a Phoenix-possessed Cyclops.

PAGES 2-3. Jean recaps the original Phoenix story.

For those just joining us, Jean was killed in X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023, and this miniseries appears to follow her disembodied mind as it replays various events from her life and imagines how things might have played out if she had made different choices. In other words, it’s a series of “What If?” stories, but presumably in one way or another, this is setting up her resurrection at the end of “Fall of X”.

“Back when I was practically a child, I chose wisely…” Jean is referring here to the events covered in issue #1, where she returned from her foray to the future (i.e., the Brian Bendis run), and chose to erase her memory of it and let her life follow its existing course. Issue #1 played out what would have happened if she had done otherwise, and naturally it didn’t go well.

The Phoenix storyline. For the most part, these two pages are a faithful recap of events from X-Men #100-101 (1976), since the rest of the story only makes sense if you know how it played out the first time around. And even though this is a very well known storyline in X-Men continuity, it’s still nearly 50 years old by this point.


Sep 24

Daredevil Villains #3: The Owl

Posted on Sunday, September 24, 2023 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #3 (August 1964)
“Daredevil Battles the Owl, Ominous Overlord of Crime!”
Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Penciller: Joe Orlando
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Colourist: uncredited

It’s Daredevil’s first supervillain of his very own… for a fairly undemanding definition of “super”. And he gets a huge build-up, which suggests Stan Lee had hopes for him as a recurring villain.

The Owl is a Wall Street financier. The narrator tells us that he’s “merciless” and has “no friends … no loved ones… nothing to connect him with the human race save the fact of his birth!” What this means in practice is that he’s massively rich and powerful, everyone is afraid of him, and everyone already suspects him of corruption. For some reason, he’s actually changed his name to “the Owl”. Orlando draws him as a smug, sinister fat guy in an old fashioned suit (even for the time).

This could have been a workable set-up for the Owl – albeit a bit anti-capitalist for Stan Lee. He’s a rich criminal operating in plain sight and mocking the fact that nobody can prove anything against him. In fact, we know that’s a workable set-up, because it’s the Kingpin. But the Kingpin won’t debut until 1967. The Owl isn’t fighting for space with him just yet.

Unfortunately for the Owl, the first time around, Stan Lee doesn’t stick with the set-up. He blows it up almost immediately. The Owl is arrested for fraud. As a show of contempt, he picks a lawyer at random from the phone book, which turns out to be Nelson & Murdock, because of course it does. Matt takes the case – partly because he wants to learn more about the Owl, but partly because he actually believes that everyone is entitled to representation – and gets the Owl released overnight. According to Matt, the Owl “is charged with sheer animal power” and “almost limitless energy, all of it directed into evil channels”, which is an odd mix with the bloated fat cat that Orlando draws. But you can kind of see it, in a force of personality way.


Sep 23

The X-Axis – w/c 18 September 2023

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #105. By Steve Foxe, Stephanie Williams, Noemi Vettori, Pete Pantazis & Travis Lanham. This is another ludicrously overloaded week from the X-office. Which means it’s probably not the best week to be listening to the opinions of completists like me, or at least it’s best to attach a caveat to them, since anyone reading all of these books would have to be absolutely rabid in order to get to the end of the pile without, at some point, thinking “Oh god, is there still more?” To be fair, Uncanny Spider-Man #1 is running two weeks late. But the planned schedule always had eight comics, which is ridiculous.

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic has the good fortune to come out first. It completes the series of spotlight stories for the members of the X-Men team who got annihilated at the Hellfire Gala. This is Juggernaut’s story, and it’s basically people recapping his history and talking about his journey of atonement. But it seems to be trying to present election to the X-Men as the climax of that journey, which runs up against the problem that he joined the X-Men during the Chuck Austen run, something like fifteen years ago now. I suppose you can argue that being voted onto the team carries more weight, though. And if you’re willing to wave that point through, then it’s a nice enough recap of Juggernaut’s career, but it’s not much more than that.


Sep 22

Uncanny Spider-Man #1 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Park Life”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colour artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad
Editor-in-chief: C B Cebulski

UNCANNY SPIDER-MAN is the latest iteration of the book formerly known as Way of X and Legion of X. We last saw Nightcrawler in X-Men: Before the Fall – Sons of X #1 (which was effectively a Legion of X special), in which he was freed from Orchis and reunited with the “Hopesword” that Margali Szardos conjured out of him in Legion of X #10. Then he decided to leave Krakoa, which is why he wasn’t around for the Hellfire Gala.

COVER / PAGE 1. Nightcrawler in action as “Spider-Man”.

PAGES 2-3. John Romita tribute pages.

PAGES 4-9. “Spider-Man” defeats some organ thieves.

Shocker tech. The thieves are apparently using the technology of perennial Spider-Man D-list villain the Shocker – and they’re so far down the pecking order that they think it’s impressive.

“Entschulgigung.” “Excuse me.”

Nightcrawler is wearing a modified Spider-Man costume with a mask, though he’s not exactly going overboard to disguise himself – his tail is in full view and his unusual hands and feet are also clearly visible. Plus, he’s still wearing his red and black colour scheme. This seems to me more of an exercise in plausible deniability.


Sep 21

Dark X-Men #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 21, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

DARK X-MEN vol 2 #2
“Wings Off Flies”
Writer: Steve Foxe
Artist: Jonas Scharf
Colour artist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Well, that’s Madelyne fighting Maggott while Gambit and Gimmick watch, which in the story itself is no more than a mild argument. Featuring a rare 2023 outing for the brokeback pose, albeit innovatively viewed from overhead, it’s the worst cover I can remember seeing on an X-book in quite some time.

PAGE 2. Flashbacks: The alternate Goblin Queen’s life.

We saw this Goblin Queen at the end of last issue, when the captured Archangel was delivered to an Orchis black site.

“There are few worlds throughout the Multiverse in which Madelyne Pryor lives a good, simple life.” Presumably because she was created by Mr Sinister as a clone of Jean Grey for his own schemes. Therefore, in any world where she exists, she’s almost certain to get sucked into Sinister’s plans in some way, unless he gets defeated before that can happen.


Sep 20

Wolverine #37 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #37
“Last Mutant Standing, part 1”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Juan José Ryp
Colour artist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Wolverine fights the Hulk, with the three Wolverine clones in the background. Not really what happens in the issue, but close enough for a cover.

PAGES 2-3. Wolverine recaps the premise of “Fall of X”.

After last month’s diversion to do a crossover with Ghost Rider, Wolverine joins “Fall of X” proper. And for the benefit of anyone reading this in trade, Logan opens the issue by recapping the plot in narration (quite effectively, actually). Since the central themes of this book over the last year have included Wolverine’s disillusionment with the Krakoan authorities, and Beast thinking he’s above the law, Wolverine actually has slightly more sympathy for anti-mutant sentiment than some of his teammates, though obviously not to the point of sympathising with Orchis themselves.

The Orchis roadblock includes a robot with adamantium claws of its own. This is one of the X-Sentinels that Orchis created in X-Men #22 using the adamantium skeletons left behind on the Orchis Forge space station after X-Force’s repeated suicide assaults on the station, as shown in Inferno #1. We also saw an X-Sentinel in X-Force #44, Percy’s other “Fall of X” series.


Sep 17

The X-Axis – w/c 11 September 2023

Posted on Sunday, September 17, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #104. By Steve Foxe, Stephanie Williams, Noemi Vettori, Pete Pantazis & Travis Lanham. Continuing with the series of spotlight stories on the members of the abortive X-Men team from Hellfire Gala, this is Dazzler’s issue. She wins a “Cultural Vanguard” award for (one assumes) diversity or something. The X-Cutioner shows up to complain about mutants appropriating human culture, but everyone loves Dazzler, and she easily defeats him.

Aside from last week’s Frenzy story, these shorts aren’t working – I think there’s meant to be a bittersweet undertone knowing what happened to the characters, but the stories are far too generic to suggest that we lost very much. I don’t think you can really do a story about Dazzler as a massively popular, accepted mutant artist one week before a U-turn where apparently everyone hates mutants now and there’s no pro-mutant sympathy to be seen – well, unless the story is meant to be about the shallowness of diversity awards, but I don’t think that’s the idea. X-Cutioner isn’t the right choice of villain for this – his schtick is meant to be that he resents mutants feeling that they’re above the law, which is at least a semi-legitimate complaint. And the art doesn’t capture the sense of “the music industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony” at all – it looks way too small scale for that. Not good, I’m afraid.

X-FORCE #44. (Annotations here.) I really, really don’t like the fact that we’ve just got Orchis working in both the US and Russia without any explanation. I’m not even sure having them here adds anything to the story. Wouldn’t it have been easier to have the Russians with their own bootleg Orchis – or even to twist the knife by offering “sanctuary” to the remaining mutants? I suppose my bigger problem here is that the whole “Fall of X” set-up doesn’t feel like it’s been coherently thought through – the books keep contradicting each other; the premise is that all the mutants are gone and yet there seem to be more of them around in human society than ever; public opinion lurches to a ridiculously one-sided degree overnight, simply because That’s The Story. The exile side of the plot seems to work, but the Orchis police state rings false to me whenever it comes up.