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Jun 14

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #21, #27 and #34

Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

Writer & artist: Jason Loo
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

X-Men Unlimited likes to intersperse short stories in between its longer arcs. This is something a little different – a three part story which the series comes back to in between arcs.

I kind of like the idea of that – a background story that Unlimited checks in on from time to time. But it doesn’t really seem to fit with this particular arc. Guido and Madrox – or rather, a Madrox dupe – are jet-skiing offshore from the X-Corp base when a bunch of little monsters attack. X-Corp retreat and the duo are left behind. They make their way to nearby Monster island, which turns out to have fallen under the rule of Xemnu. I’d say Xemnu was a ridiculously obscure villain, but he was used prominently in Immortal Hulk a couple of years ago, so he’s not quite in that category right now.

Anyway, Xemnu is running the place by mind control; they beat him and go home. And that’s pretty much it. The character angle is meant to be that Guido is mildly aggrieved at being stuck with a dupe instead of the real Jamie, but nothing really comes of that. It’s… mildly diverting, I guess? Gently pleasant? The art’s charming, which is the big strength of the story – but there’s really not much to it. It’s just a bit of whimsical filler.

Which is fine as far as it goes – it’s X-Men Unlimited, after all, it’s a freebie book. Still, the scheduling of the story is baffling to me. As I say, I quite like the idea of having a storyline going on in the background and being checked in on periodically. But that’s not what’s happening here. That gimmick needs a story that plays out over a longer period, with characters who are sidelined from the main action. This takes, what, 24 hours? And Guido appears prominently in the Declan Shalvey arc in between chapters one and two. And at that point, I don’t really get the point of spreading something so slight over such a long period.


Jun 12

Free Comic Book Day: Avengers / X-Men / Eternals

Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“Of Deviation and Mutation”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dustin Weaver
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Karen S Darboe
Colourist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Annalise Bissa

“Let’s Talk About Krakoa”
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colourist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Jordan D White

This is, to be honest, one of those comics where there seems to be a bit of ambiguity about what it’s, you know, actually called, which is always helpful when people might want to find it on Marvel Unlimited at some point. The cover has a Judgment Day logo. Marvel Unlimited has it listed as just Free Comic Book Day: Avengers / X-Men, with no mention of the Eternals. Let’s split the difference.


Jun 11

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #29-33

Posted on Saturday, June 11, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“X-Men Green II”
Writers: Karla Pacheco (#29-32) and Steve Orlando (#33)
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colourist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

Apparently the thinking that everything should have a fresh #1 at the first opportunity doesn’t apply to Infinity Comics. I know it doesn’t really matter, but I rather like that. This is the second arc for Nature Girl’s “X-Men Green” team, who were introduced in a storyline written by Gerry Duggan earlier in the series. Duggan doesn’t return for this arc, but artist Emilio Laiso does, joined this time by Karla Pacheco… except for the final issue, which for some reason is credited solely to Steve Orlando. That’s weird, isn’t it? You’d figure that at the very least there’d be elements of the original plot being used. Hmm.

So. The original X-Men Green arc was a little ambivalent about Nature Girl’s group. On the other hand, Nature Girl was written as so far over the top – not just taking on the fossil fuel industry but killing shopkeepers over plastic bags – as to be a fanatic, and her group is rounded out by Sauron, who is a maniac, and Curse, who is just there to vent her urge to cause trouble. On the other hand, as soon as the story moved away on to more conventional eco-villains, it played her as much more sympathetic. This didn’t feel like nuance so much as a bit of a split personality in the story.


Jun 10

Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1

Posted on Friday, June 10, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“And When There Was One”
Writers: Steve Orlando & Nyla Rose
Penciller: David Cutler
Inkers: José Marzan Jr with Roberto Poggi
Colourist: Irma Kniivila
Letterer & Production: Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

John Proudstar is a character in a strange position. He was introduced along with the rest of the new X-Men line-up in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975). He was dead by X-Men #85 (October 1975). He appeared in a grand total of three issues. He didn’t even die fighting a major X-Men villain. He got himself killed trying to punch Count Nefaria’s aeroplane to death.

Now, viewed from 2022, it’s maybe a little unfortunate that Giant-Size #1 introduces a new multi-ethnic team and then promptly gets rid of both Sunfire and Thunderbird. But viewed in terms of a team dynamic, you can see the thinking. The team introduced in Giant-Size #1 has not one but three characters who are defined largely as grumpy, unco-operative types. You don’t need three of that character. Early Wolverine will do the job just fine. On top of that, Thunderbird’s main power is to be big and strong… on a team that already has Colossus. He’s an aggrieved ex-soldier… on a team that already has Wolverine. He does wilderness back-to-nature type things… on a team that already has Wolverine. To be fair, Wolverine only really grows into that last role a bit later on, but the point remains that you don’t need Thunderbird to cover this territory.


Jun 9

Legion of X #2 annotations

Posted on Thursday, June 9, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Let Us Prey”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller with Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. Mother Righteous shows Nightcrawler and Banshee a vision of a nightmarish possible future Legion.

PAGE 2. Mother Righteous addresses Legion and Blindfold.

“All those years broken, sedated, dismissed as a liability…” Mother Righteous is referring in broad strokes to Legion’s back story from his earliest appearances circa New Mutants #25. For anyone just joining us, David is the son of Professor X and Gabrielle Haller. Getting caught up in a terrorist attack as a child led to him going into a coma and developing multiple personalities. He remains comatose until his early appearances, but for years after that tends to be treated in stories as an eccentric and unreliable figure best marginalised.

“You look at your dad now and all you see is coldness.” This is a recurring theme in Spurrier’s Legion stories. It’s slightly unfair to Xavier, who didn’t know that Legion existed until around the time of his debut appearance, and was then caught up in various storylines that prevented him spending any real time with Legion before the Muir Island Saga, at which point Legion wound up back in a coma. But Legion’s attitude is fair enough in a broader sense; Xavier, like everyone else, does pretty much forget about Legion when he’s not directly involved in a story.


Jun 8

Marauders #3 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

MARAUDERS vol 2 #3
“Extinction Agenda, part 3”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Elonora Carlini
Colourist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1: The Marauders, surrounded by Shi’ar soldiers.

PAGE 2. Delphos and Erik the Red discuss the plot.

The light show that they’re watching is presumably their teammates’ ongoing battle with Cassandra Nova, which we’ll join on page 4.

Issue #2 ended with the Marauders floating in space and Xandra wavering about what to do, while Delphos and Erik stood behind her. As we see later, Xandra gave orders for the Marauders to be brought aboard. It’s a little odd, then, that Delphos continues to say that Xandra is “cowed”, but it seems to be true as a generality.

“Infinity’s End.” This seems to be an upcoming event, also referenced by Mephisto in Avengers #55.

Cal’syee is Deathbird’s real name.


Jun 7

X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #28

Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 by Paul in x-axis

“So I’m Dating a Pop Star!”
Writer: Jason Loo
Artist: EJ Su
Colourist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Lauren Amaro

So, yeah. This came out at the end of March and I’m only getting to it now. Time for a renewed push to clear the backlog.

The thing is: sitting at the top of my review list for a while has been Demon Days, the Peach Momoko miniseries which shipped more or less quarterly and basically involves Marvel Universe characters being reworked into Japanese mythology. And the thing bores me so completely that I just cannot face re-reading it. I mean, it’s beautiful, of course, but I just don’t get it at all. It doesn’t feel like the characters have much in common with the originals beyond the very superficial; I don’t feel like it’s telling me anything interesting about the characters or about Japanese mythology or about any sort of overlap between the two. If anything, it leaves me feeling like there is no connection and the whole thing is a completely arbitrary parlour game. Maybe if I knew more about Japanese folklore I’d be seeing some sort of connection there, but I don’t and I’m really, really not. I just don’t understand at all what the thing is trying to do or why it exists. It’s one of those comics where even the first time around I could feel by the end that I was still dutifully turning the pages but none of it was sinking in. And I just cannot bring myself to re-read the thing in order to review it properly. Life is too short.

Fortunately, the next Demon Days series to be solicited is something to do with Civil War, and the book itself is a mixture of X-books elements and stuff from the wider Marvel Universe, so I have decided that for my purposes it is Not An X-Book and we can all move on with our lives.


Jun 5

The Incomplete Wolverine – 2001

Posted on Sunday, June 5, 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
1998 | 1999 | 2000

Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada took over at Marvel in 2000, but it’s in 2001 that their direction for the company really becomes apparent. And there’s a point I should flag at the outset: a hallmark of this era is that Marvel weren’t really paying much attention to how various titles would fit together, and were also doing some quite lengthy storylines with no obvious gaps in them. This means that getting everything to fit into a coherent timeline can involve quite a bit of stretching, and series can often be miles out of synch with one another. So when I say “2001”, I’m using Wolverine’s solo title as the yardstick. There are other books that came out in 2001 – like Grant Morrison’s New X-Men – which we won’t reach until the 2002 instalment, because that’s just how it winds up fitting together.

Also, I’m going by shipping date, as best as I can establish it, rather than the notional cover dates listed on for these issues (which don’t even appear on the covers by this point).

WOLVERINE vol 2 #159-161
“The Best There Is”
by Frank Tieri, Sean Chen, Norm Rapmund and various colourists
December 2000 to February 2001

Testing Wolverine to see if he’s worthy of being an ally, deranged mercenary serial killer Mr X sends a bunch of soldiers after him, led by the Major, and including Blok and the Ladykillers. The Ladykillers are a female duo who go by the names and, deep sigh, A. Welcome to the Frank Tieri run, which continues (with some interruptions) through to issue #186 in 2003.

Logan fights off all the thugs, but loses to Mr X in single combat. Mr X takes Logan to his private island, where he explains his back story: as a child, he encountered a dying woman, could feel her passing, and became obsessed with recapturing that feeling. He’s also trained under the world’s greatest masters so that he can face ever greater opponents. Mr X gives Wolverine a choice between “accept[ing] my superiority and join[ing] me in my new murder avant-garde”, or dying because he now knows too much. Outraged that Mr X treats murder as a game, Logan flies into a berserker rage, escapes his restraints, and attacks Mr X. He does rather better this time, and Blok is forced to intervene – which Mr X regards as cheating.  He dumps Logan in a raft, and leaves a message that Mr X will get back to him in due course. So apparently Wolverine didn’t know too much after all – or maybe Mr X’s weird sense of the rules overrides that. Wolverine is troubled by the way he had to succumb to his berserker instincts to defeat Mr X, and is determined to be ready when Mr X comes back.


Jun 1

Knights of X #2 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by Paul in Annotations, x-axis

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

“Never Split the Party”
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Bob Quinn
Colourist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. The Knights of X fight Merlyn’s forces in the Crooked Market. It’s got some lovely covers, this series.

PAGES 2-3. Merlyn yells at the province leaders.

This time, the provinces not associated with Merlyn are represented – Roma, Jim Jaspers, and two of the hooded things that represent Mercator. Merlyn kicks us off by recapping the plot of issue #1 in the first couple of panels.

Mister M. It’s been implied before that Mr M is the mysterious ruler of Mercator, but this is the first time it’s been directly confirmed on panel. Absalom Mercator is a fairly obscure character whose most significant appearances were in the mid-2000s Bishop series District X and the later miniseries X-Men: The 198. However, he’s been consistently listed throughout the Krakoan era as a missing omega mutant, and Planet-Size X-Men #1 strongly implied that he was the one now running the renamed province of Mercator. Mercator is a massively powerful matter transmutator. He was seemingly murdered in The 198 #5, but apparently rose from the dead transformed in some way, and was never seen again.


May 26

Legion of X #1 annotations

Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2022 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Do What Thou Wilt”
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artist: Jan Bazaldua
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

LEGION OF X is the relaunch of Way of X (or, if you prefer, Way of X was the prequel which did the set-up for this book).

COVER / PAGE 1: Well, that’s Legion and Juggernaut in the background, Nightcrawler at the front, and Pixie with the wings (who isn’t really in this issue, but was a recurring character in Way of X). The woman with the techno-stuff on her head is Weaponless Zsen, who’s introduced in this issue.

PAGE 2. Legion’s opening monologue.

Legion is addressing Blindfold, but we’ll come back to that. He’s also helpfully recapping Way of X for anyone new (like Blindfold). The opening panel seems like a meta nod to the season break since the last arc, too.

The Altar was introduced in Way of X and Legion’s explanation of it here is about as clear as anything else we’ve had in the past. Legion talks it up as a mutant dimension and then kind of backs off from that – we don’t entirely have a sense yet of how many mutants are using the Altar, or what kind of people they are. Broadly speaking, it seems to function as a hub of mutant culture with therapeutic overtones. Using it as the base for the Legion of X is slightly at odds with that – or maybe not, given that Kurt sees it as an essential part of a nation-building project, and as rehabilitative to boot.