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Sep 16

Children of the Vault #2 annotations

Posted on Saturday, September 16, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist: Luca Maresca
Colourist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: Cory Petit
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Sarah Brunstad

COVER / PAGE 1. The Children of the Vault – Ferro, Serafina, a guy in the background that I don’t recognise, Capitán and Átomo – hover over the public in superhero mode. Bishop and Cable are among the crowd wearing hoods.

PAGES 2-4. Bishop and Cable capture Martillo-131.

Presumably Martillo gets chosen as the target because he’s alone. But our attention is drawn to the fact that Martillo likes the current state of human culture, which the Children’s plan is going to wipe out. He’s more at the stage of regretting its loss than actually turning against the plan, but still.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits


Sep 15

Astonishing Iceman #2 annotations

Posted on Friday, September 15, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Out Cold, part two”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Vincenzo Carratù
Colour artist: Java Tartaglia
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Iceman in action in a city; basically just a generic Iceman cover.

PAGE 2. John Romita tribute page.

PAGES 3-4. Flashback: Teenage Bobby freezes Rocky Beasely.

This is a recap of the Iceman back-up strip from X-Men #44 (1968), part of the “Origins of the X-Men” series which recounts how Cyclops, Iceman, Beast and Angel got recruited into the team. The original story is by Gary Friedrich, George Tuska and John Verpoorten. Bobby is returning home from seeing a film with his girlfriend Judy Harmon when they’re attacked by bullies led by Rocky Beasely. Obviously, in some respects Judy is inconvenient with hindsight, but by serendipity, the bullies do immediately claim that they’re there to “show Miss Harmon just who the real man around here is”, which you could now read differently.


Sep 14

X-Men Red #15 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 14, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN RED vol 2 #15
“Nothing and Nobody”
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Yildiray Çinar
Colour artist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. Storm and Genesis fight, with the Fisher King in the background, suspended in Xilo’s worms.

PAGE 2. Flashback: The young Fisher King meets Azazoth.

In a passing line in issue #6, Fisher King said that his name had been “psychically amputated in the prisons to guard against the Vile Omnipaths.” In this version, the future Fisher King seems quite keen to be rendered invisible, something which will actually give him a power of sorts.

Azazoth is a new character, though someone quite like him was among Genesis’s forces in the previous issue. He’s likely named after Azathoth, one of HP Lovecraft’s gods.


Sep 13

X-Force #44 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-FORCE vol 6 #44
“The Chronicles of Colossus”
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Robert Gill
Colourist: GURU-eFX
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Domino, Deadpool and Sage fight Orchis’ X-Sentinels in an alleyway. There’s what looks to be a poster of Colossus’s face on the right-hand wall. Astute readers will note that Deadpool isn’t actually in this issue. He wandered off on page 14 of the previous issue, and wasn’t with the X-Force members who followed Colossus through the portal to Mikhail’s base.

However, the solicitation for this issue refers to X-Force being captured, with “Sage, Deadpool and Domino” trying to reach them before the Sentinels do. Evidently Deadpool got cut from the plot, perhaps because it didn’t make sense for him to be in this book and Uncanny Avengers at the same time.

PAGES 2-3. Domino watches an Orchis checkpoint in Moscow.

Are we… are we seriously just going with the idea that Orchis are openly operating, with the blessing of the authorities, in both the USA and Russia, and that no further explanation is required for that? That’s…. um, well, gosh, that’s quite a choice we’ve made there, isn’t it?


Sep 10

Daredevil Villains #2: Electro

Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2023 by Paul in Daredevil

DAREDEVIL #2 (June 1964)
“The Evil Menace of Electro”
Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Artist: Joe Orlando
Inker: Vince Colletta
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Colourist: uncredited

If you’re going to play Daredevil as a swashbuckling solo superhero who swings through the streets of Marvel’s New York, there’s an elephant in the room: Spider-Man already exists. So what makes this new guy stand out? One solution would be to give Daredevil his very own arch enemy. Instead, here’s Electro.

Now, this is only the second Electro story. He debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #9 four months earlier. He hasn’t been slotted as a C-lister yet. But even allowing for all of that, Daredevil’s not even met a supervillain of his own yet, and already he’s dealing with Spider-Man’s hand-me-downs. How was that supposed to help him?

It’s not like Electro is an especially strong concept. His back story and powers have no particular synergy with Daredevil. Max Dillon is a lineman who gets electric powers when he’s struck by lightning, and decides to become a criminal. That’s it. That’s the character. Electro stands and falls on the strength of his electricity gimmick, and there are certainly worse gimmicks. It’s a strong enough visual to have kept him around to the present day. But he’s still a gimmick villain. Going to him as early as issue #2 is not a good sign.


Sep 8

The X-Axis – w/c 4 September 2023

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #103. By Steve Foxe, Stephanie Williams, Noemi Vettori, Pete Pantazis & Travis Lanham. Continuing the string of standalone stories with the members of the abortive X-Men team, this is Frenzy’s spotlight issue. I still don’t really understand the point which these stories are supposed to making collectively – if there even is one – but this is certainly the best of the bunch so far. It’s workaholic Frenzy focussing on the important task of teaching visiting diplomats how to handle themselves on Arakko, and Paibok persuading her to take a break. That’s pretty much the whole thing, but it’s a well delivered vignette and a nice little read.

X-MEN #26. (Annotations here.) I have very mixed feelings about “Fall of X”. I’m on board with the bit where Orchis outwit Krakoa and the mutants are forced into exile; I can accept the idea of Orchis getting into a position of influence and rolling out essentially fascist anti-mutant policies, even if it seems a bit weird to be doing it during the Biden administration. What I can’t buy for a second is the idea that this is a state where the “tiniest slipups could send someone to ‘education camp'” without that being, at the very least, massively controversial on a level far beyond anything we’re seeing here. X-Men in particular seems to be treating this as equivalent to the HYDRA takeover of the USA from Secret Empire, which was also silly and didn’t work. The fundamental problem here is that the story is both comically over the top and oppressively miserable – basically, exactly what I dreaded “Fall of X” would be when I read the Hellfire Gala one-shot. The other “Fall of X” books haven’t fallen into this trap, perhaps because they can skirt more effectively around the edges. But X-Men has, and the result is just a bit tiresome.


Sep 7

Immortal X-Men #15 annotations

Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

“Thirst Things First”
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Paco Medina
Colour artist: David Curiel
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. A zombie Wolverine attacks.

PAGES 2-4. Selene eats Shaw’s soldiers.

Selene is our designated narrator for this issue, even though she isn’t in the desert scenes. She was voted onto the Quiet Council in issue #12 and hasn’t had her spotlight issue yet.

The soldiers are apparently the same ones that Professor X repelled from Krakoa at the end of the previous issue. Although they’re at an Orchis base, they don’t seem to be wearing Orchis logos on their uniforms, as with the previous issue. There were four of them last issue, and there seem to be only three here, but I doubt that’s meant to be significant.

Selene’s captions get a black chess queen logo. Shaw had a similar black king logo on his captions in issue #6, although Selene is a former Black Queen.

PAGE 5. Recap and credits.

PAGES 6-7. Shaw and Selene return to Krakoa with psi-blockers.

Selene is surprised that Shaw was able to build effective psi-blockers. His back story does involve him being an engineering genius, but it’s rarely a focus of this stories, and she’s right that Shaw would normally delegate this to someone else. We saw last issue, though, that Shaw seems to have realised that he needs to look out for himself rather than relying on his allies.


Sep 6

X-Men #26 annotations

Posted on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

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

X-MEN vol 6 #26
Writer: Gerry Duggan
Artists: Jim Towe & Javier Pina
Colourist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Design: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Jordan D White

COVER / PAGE 1. The left half of an image of Emma Frost marrying Tony Stark. The other half is on the cover of Invincible Iron Man #10. The solicitation for this issue reads: “WE’RE NOT LOSING AN X-MAN… WE’RE GAINING AN AVENGER!” The moment we swore would never happen-heck, the moment EMMA FROST swore would never happen-is here at last! As the Frost/Stark knot is tied in INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10, Emma’s mutant family reacts to this surprise news!

The issue as published bears no resemblance to that solicitation whatsoever – the marriage only comes up in the penultimate panel.

The cover art features various characters who aren’t available to attend a wedding due to “Fall of X”, but that’s obviously to avoid spoilers in the solicitations.

PAGES 2-3. John Romita tribute.

PAGE 4. Data page: a quote from Ben Urich about the Kingpin, taken from one of his articles. Urich was investigating the Kingpin in Daredevil back in the Frank Miller run.


Sep 3

Daredevil Villains #1: The Fixer

Posted on Sunday, September 3, 2023 by Paul in Daredevil

So, I thought we’d do something different.

Quick: Name ten Daredevil villains. Come on, the book’s been a mainstay of Marvel’s line since 1964, it can’t be that hard. There’s the Kingpin, the Hand, Bullseye, um, Typhoid… um… does Elektra count…? Admittedly, this is not really my area. But I googled a few lists of top Daredevil villains and almost all of them resorted to counting the Punisher. One of them was desperate enough to include Mysterio.

So I thought I’d read some Daredevil and find out what the hell he’s been doing all these years when he wasn’t fighting the Hand or the Kingpin. I’ve barely read any pre-Nocenti Daredevil before and I have pretty much no idea what happens in the book prior to Frank Miller, other than that there’s a wacky bit where he pretends to be his own twin brother. The general consensus seems to be that early Daredevil is completely skippable. Even at the time, Marvel don’t seem to have thought much of his commercial appeal – between issue #10 in 1965, and issue #100 in 1973, he made less than ten guest appearances in other books, even counting cameos.

And yet he must have been doing something right, because he hung in there when the likes of Dr Strange couldn’t. So I’m going to read through Daredevil and cover the issues that add new villains to his list. Some of these will be pretty short, and it’s going to be an irregular series (in other words, you’ll be getting these in quiet weeks).

DAREDEVIL #1 (April 1964)
“The Origin of Daredevil”
Writer, editor: Stan Lee
Artist: Bill Everett
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Colourist: not credited

This is the one early Daredevil issue that everyone knows, because it’s mostly an extended flashback setting out his origin story. The villain of that story is the Fixer, who is emphatically not going to be Daredevil’s arch enemy.

The original version goes like this. Little Matt Murdock wants to follow in the footsteps of his boxer father Battlin’ Jack. But Jack insists that Matt ignore sports and manly pursuits in favour of study, so that he can break out of poverty and “amount to something” – a promise that Jack made to Matt’s late mother. All the other kids think Matt’s a loser and nickname him Daredevil, which is thoughtful of them. But Matt trains in secret, while also getting straight As. Desperate to pay for Matt to go to college, Jack agrees to be managed by the disreputable Fixer. Meanwhile, Matt randomly loses his sight and gains super powers when he shoves a blind man out of the way of a runaway radioactive waste truck. Matt still goes to college, while Jack goes on an implausible middle-aged winning streak under the Fixer’s management. The Fixer tells Jack to take a dive in the first round of a key fight, but Jack refuses to disappoint his watching son, and wins by knockout. The Fixer has Jack shot dead in retaliation.


Aug 31

The X-Axis – w/c 28 August 2023

Posted on Thursday, August 31, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #102. By Steve Foxe, Stephanie Williams, Noemi Vettori, Pete Panazis & Travis Lanham. Continuing our series of short solo stories with the members of the abortive X-Men team, this is Jubilee’s issue. She takes some of the Krakoan kids to the Savage Land on a field trip. They stop some poachers. That’s pretty much it. I honestly don’t understand what this run of stories is meant to be achieving. It just feels like generic filler, I’m afraid.

WOLVERINE #36. (Annotations here.) Part 3 of the “Weapons of Vengeance” crossover with Ghost Rider, which has essentially nothing to do with “Fall of X”. I mean, there’s some passing mention of the idea that there are fewer mutants around, but the plot says otherwise, with the demon Stitcher having no apparent problem finding an endless supply of backwoods mutants to mutilate. This probably isn’t the best issue to raise the point, but: this is actually a problem. We’ve had years where the dominant narrative was that all of mutantkind were together on Krakoa – that was the point, after all – but “Fall of X” keeps trying to do stories about people pursuing the supposed handful of non-Krakoan mutants who, it turns out, were apparently teeming worldwide all along. If this was the direction, why march the rest of the world through the gates? Why not just do it with the population of Krakoa? Or, y’know, do “Fall of X” storylines that are consistent with the premise of there being virtually no more mutants around.