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May 17

Devil’s Reign: X-Men

Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

DEVIL’S REIGN: X-MEN #1-3
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan White

Three issues, huh? There’s a trade paperback of this listed on Amazon for August, with a page count of 112 – I can only assume they’re pairing it with something to be announced. Anyway, I skipped over this when it came out, since it’s not a core X-book. It’s closer than many, though.

Publishing it in X-Men might have been a stretch, since it’s an Emma Frost story, and she’s not in the cast of that book. But it’s by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto, an established Krakoan creative team. And it picks up on a subplot from Duggan’s Marauders run about Emma having some sort of back story with Wilson Fisk, running missions for him in exchange for him helping Lourdes Chantel to start a new life away from Sebastian Shaw.

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May 11

X-Men #11 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #11
“A Busted Hand”
Writer: Gerry Duggaan
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The female X-Men standing over defeated thugs from Gameworld. They’re wearing their Hellfire Gala costumes from last year.

PAGE 2. Opening quote. At the end of last issue, Gambit put Rogue in touch with Rocket, to get information about Gameworld (where Rocket happened to be anyway). Rocket clearly doesn’t fancy Gameworld’s chances now that the X-Men are coming.

PAGES 3-4. Flashback: Mojo steers Gameworld towards Earth.

Mojo. The last time we saw Mojo was in X-Factor #9, when a group led by Magik forced him to put a stop to slavery and mutant exploitation. That issue left him still notionally in charge, albeit under a forced pact. (“You’re partners with Krakoa now. Sign the #$%& dotted line.”) However, this flashback could easily take place before that, because X-Factor #9 was shortly before the Hellfire Gala, and Mojo is setting in train a plan which will become apparent shortly afterwards (in issue #1).

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May 8

Life of Wolverine Infinity Comic

Posted on Sunday, May 8, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

LIFE OF WOLVERINE INFINITY COMIC #1-10
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Ramon Bachs
Colourist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Mark Basso

Life of Wolverine was a companion piece to the ten-week X Lives and X Deaths of Wolverine – mainly to Lives, really. Technically it takes place during X Lives of Wolverine, as Jean Grey is sending Wolverine back in time and seeing his whole life. What that means in practice, of course, is openly acknowledged in the listing for issue #1: “For the first time ever, explore the history of Wolverine in chronological order!”

And that’s exactly what it is. It’s a recap book. There are a handful of original panels but no new events, unless you count Logan arriving in Madripoor for the first time. For continuity nerds, the book has some further details about the precise sequence in which assorted flashback stories take place; and yes, I’ll go back and revise some of the earlier Incomplete Wolverine posts to reflect that (and X Lives) at some point.

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May 5

Marauders #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

MARAUDERS vol 2 #2
“Extinction Agenda, part 2”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Eleonora Carlini
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterers: Ariana Maher & Clayton Cowles
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: Erik the Red and Cassandra Nova… fighting psychically, I guess? Cassandra is drawn with two superimposed faces.

PAGE 2. Lockheed finds a pile of bodies.

Or rather, what looks to be a single body made up of other bodies.

Lockheed is traditionally Kate’s pet/sidekick, but he didn’t appear in the previous issue and I don’t think he was mentioned.

The Order of X are presumably the owners of the church building that he’s exploring, given the illuminated “X” sign outside and the “X” on display in place of an altar. They’re a mutant-worshipping cult who emerged in the aftermath of Professor X announcing the creation of Krakoa in House of X #1; it’s been suggested in some stories that they may have been damaged in some way by the Professor’s worldwide telepathic message, and at the very least it had a big impact on them.

PAGES 3-4. Delphos briefs Xandra.

Delphos identifies her order as the “Nobles of the Kin Crimson”. Their function is apparently to suppress various events from Shi’ar history which, for one reason or another, are deemed too damaging to become public knowledge; we’ll come back to that. Her claim that the Order have been recognised by previous regimes seems to be confirmed by Gladiator, who’s been there all along; Xandra is a relative newcomer to the Shi’ar, raised elsewhere, which presumably explains why she doesn’t share everyone else’s cultural acceptance of the Kin Crimson. (That raises the question of what Vulcan knows about them from his own time as Shi’ar Emperor, but he wasn’t there long, so maybe it never came up. Then again, Vulcan’s back story involves him being assigned as a slave of Eric the Red before he escaped to Moira, so he might know quite a lot.)

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May 4

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: THUNDERBIRD #1
“And When There Was One”
Writers: Steve Orlando & Nyla Rose
Penciller: David Cutler
Inker: José Marzan Jr & Roberto Poggi
Colourist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1: Well, that’s Thunderbird – in his recognisable 1970s costume, rather than the one he debuts in this issue.

That caption in the bottom right hand corner must be gunning for some sort of prize for the least prominent promotion of a celebrity co-writer.

PAGE 2. Flashback: John Proudstar is resurrected.

This is a scene from X-Men: The Trial of Magneto #5. John Proudstar is the first person to be resurrected through the Scarlet Witch’s “Waiting Room”, which magically extended resurrection to mutants who had died before Cerebro started keeping back-up copies.

PAGE 3. John Proudstar walks home.

Nice establishing shot with him dwarfed by the landscape.

PAGE 4. Recap and credits. The small print just says “Thunderbird” and “Krakoa.”

PAGES 5-6. John reflects on his situation.

“I was the first mutant to die for Xavier.” In X-Men vol 1 #95, part of his second published adventure. If you’re being technical about it, he’s not actually the first. The Changeling died in X-Men vol 1 #42 while impersonating Professor X (as revealed in issue #65), though he was terminally ill anyway. And per X-Men: Deadly Genesis, Petra and Sway both died on Krakoa.

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May 1

The Incomplete Wolverine – 2000

Posted on Sunday, May 1, 2022 by Paul in Wolverine

Part 1: Origin to Origin II | Part 2: 1907 to 1914
Part 3: 1914 to 1939 | Part 4: World War II
Part 5: The postwar era | Part 6: Team X
Part 7: Post Team X | Part 8: Weapon X
Part 9: Department H | Part 10: The Silver Age
1974-1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 
1980 | 1981 | 1982
 | 1983 | 1984 1985
1986 | 1987 | 1988
 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991
1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997
19981999

When we left off, Wolverine was a brainwashed henchman of Apocalypse under the name “Death”, and he had replaced by a Skrull impostor for several months. And now, the thrilling climax… right?

CABLE vol 1 #75
“Who is Worthy to Break the Seals…?
by Joe Pruett, Rob Liefeld, Lary Stucker & Optic Studios
January 2000

We’re now in the Apocalypse: The Twelve crossover. Cable has been captured by Apocalypse. He escapes, fights Death, and then confronts Apocalypse himself – but has to surrender again when Apocalypse threatens to have Death kill Caliban. That’s pretty much the whole anniversary issue, which is built around two big fight scenes. It tries to rekindle the idea of an age-old rivalry between Cable and Wolverine, something that had long since been moved on from.

X-MEN vol 2 #96
“The Gathering”
by Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Marie Javins
January 2000

More of Apocalypse: The Twelve. The Twelve was a long-running subplot about twelve mutants who supposedly going to be of great historic important. It was set up as a really big deal. This crossover is the pay-off, and they turn out to be just a bunch of characters with convenient powers for a particular scheme that Apocalypse had in mind.

As part of his scheme to assemble the Twelve, Apocalypse sends Death to abduct Mikhail Rasputin from the X-Men Mansion. Death duly punts him through a portal to Apocalypse’s base, but makes his own escape the conventional way. He fights past the X-Men (oh, and Skrull informant Fiz) and ignores all their attempts to talk to him. But Kitty argues that Wolverine was actually trying to thwart Apocalypse’s plans, since he was trying to kill the X-Men – including Cyclops, who’s a member of the Twelve. If you say so, Kitty!

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Apr 28

Sabretooth #3 annotations

Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

SABRETOOTH vol 4 #3
“Whisper Campaign”
Writer: Victor LaValle
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Jordan White

COVER / PAGE 1: Sabretooth stands watch, whiel his fellow Pit inmates are entangled in Krakoan vines. Nekra seems to be miscoloured.

PAGE 2. A quote from Thomas Paine (1737-1809). It’s from The Rights of Man (1791); in the original context, it was one of Paine’s arguments against the House of Lords, but obviously the point is broader than that. In the context of Krakoa, the obvious target would be the Quiet Council.

PAGES 3-5. Melter’s flashback.

Melter kills his parents. This is a scene from Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4; the panel shown here is a direct copy of a panel from the original flashback. In the full version, young Chris’s powers manifest while he’s enthusiastically telling his loving parents about his school day, and it’s very clear that he kills them by accident. They seem like a conventional middle class family.

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Apr 27

Knights of X #1 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

KNIGHTS OF X #1
“Hated and Feared”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Ariana Maher

KNIGHTS OF X. This is the relaunch of Excalibur vol 4; to all intents and purposes, this issue is Excalibur #27. Naturally, it’s meant to be a jumping on point, and this issue puts a lot of effort into catching new readers up on the plot.

COVER / PAGE 1. The eight core members of Captain Britain’s questing party – running clockwise from the Captain herself, the others are Rictor, Shatterstar, Gambit, Shogo, Prestige, Meggan and Bei. The book in front of Betsy is the one that Roma gives her on pages 12-13.

PAGES 2-3. Furies attack the village of Jackdaw’s Nest.

The narrator is dutifully recapping the plot of Excalibur, where Merlyn had seized control of Otherworld and was trying to root out mutants. Note that while we’re in Otherworld, the narrator now has a different font and mock-parchment captions, distancing the book from the look of other X-titles. Page 20 seems to indicate that the narrator is telling the story set out the X-marked book that Roma gives to Betsy later on.

Jackdaw’s Nest. We saw this village previously in Excalibur #19, when Betsy and Kwannon passed through it. It seems to be the home town of Jackdaw, the sidekick from early 80s Captain Britain comics, but nothing really turns on that.

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Apr 24

X Deaths of Wolverine #1-5

Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

X DEATHS OF WOLVERINE #1-5
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Federico Vicentini
Colourists: Dijjo Lima with Frank Martin
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mark Basso

If X Lives of Wolverine felt like a Wolverine arc pressed into service as an event, then its sister title X Deaths of Wolverine is more obviously conceived for the role. That’s because much of the story here involves Moira MacTaggert, and what happens to her after being banished from Krakoa at the end of Inferno. That plot thread marks the book out as continuing a major storyline for the X-books as a whole.

There’s still maybe a bit of overhyping going on here. X Deaths was never going to do anything as game changing as House of X and Powers of X, and maybe inviting those sort of comparisons so directly was unnecessary. It doesn’t really do anything to change the status quo for the line, either – Inferno did that, by getting Moira out of the picture, bringing back Destiny, and letting the whole Quiet Council know what Xavier and Magneto were up to. But what X Deaths undoubtedly does do is take Moira to her new status quo.

We’ll come back to that, though, because this is also a Wolverine comic. It doesn’t tie very directly to its sister book X Lives in plot terms, though a macguffin from Lives is dutifully used to resolve the plot of Deaths. But the thematic links are there, and on reflection, they’re maybe stronger than I thought the first time around.

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Apr 20

Wolverine #20 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

WOLVERINE vol 7 #20
“Trigger Warning”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Adam Kubert
Colourists: Frank Martin & Dijjo Lima
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Mask Basso

COVER / PAGE 1: Wolverine stands over a bunch of destroyed robots, while Deadpool takes a selfie in the background.

PAGES 2-5. Wolverine stops a runaway truck full of explosives.

This opening action scene is here as much as anything to get Wolverine into the book, while Deadpool sets about his narration. I love the ornate page layouts, which are remarkably clear.

Note that the first of Wolverine’s teams that Deadpool mentions is X-Force, which wouldn’t be most people’s choice. But it’s the one Deadpool is preoccupied with since they were teammates on a version of X-Force before. We’ll come back to that.

Deadpool is sort of correct that Wolverine never really seems to want to be on a team – at the very least he regularly affects not to, and feels ambivalent about his position on a superhero type group. Of course, with the X-Men and Alpha Flight that was balanced out by his sense that they were his family. X-Force raise slightly different issues because they were a black ops group. In the earliest stories about Wolverine’s version of X-Force, from 2008, Wolverine very definitely doesn’t want to be in the team – the idea is that he’s always seen himself as the one who does the nasty things so that his more heroic teammates don’t have to, and so bringing other characters into that orbit is something he’s quite unhappy about.

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