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Aug 8

The X-Axis – 8 August 2010

Posted on Sunday, August 8, 2010 by Paul in x-axis

We’ve reached another of those weeks which the X-schedule virtually skips altogether – the sum total of this week’s X-Men related output being New Mutants Forever #1.  It’s a quiet week for new launches as well.  Which is fine by me, since the Edinburgh Fringe is under way and I have lots of other things to see.

But here’s some stuff which did come out this week…

Amazing Spider-Man #639 – Part two of “One Moment In Time”, the story that isn’t so much “because you demanded it” as “because it was an unavoidable necessity which we’ve put off for as long as we could.”  There’s no more interpolated reprint material this time – part one already explained where the wedding story got changed, and this issue has the tougher job of explaining why Peter and Mary Jane ended up living together regardless.  (Incidentally, while I can understand the desire to preserve as many stories in continuity as possible, was it really necessary to have them go on the honeymoon anyway, simply to preserve the canonicity of Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #7 in modified form?)  The argument goes something like this: Mary Jane realises that something Spider-Man-related stopped Peter from showing up at the church, and forgives that, but decides that she doesn’t want to have children with Peter if their life is going to be like this, and therefore she doesn’t need to marry him.  You can practically hear the plot creak under the weight of accommodating an enormous retcon with minimal disturbance to history, and there’s simply no way of taking this story as anything other than an exercise in remedial continuity.  You can of course make a case for this story as a sacrifice to the greater good of the series – but wouldn’t it have been simpler just to declare that they never decided to get married in the first place, particularly given that it was a last-minute development shoehorned into the series to achieve consistency with the newspaper strip?  Granted, that wouldn’t make for a dramatic story… but with the strings so clearly visible, neither does this.

Casanova #2 – We’re still in the reprints of the original series here, which the Icon book is covering two to an issue.  Having originally been intended for reading in smaller chunks, it’s incredibly dense, to the point of sometimes seeming a bit rushed, but with a healthy sense of deadpan lunacy to it.  My reservation about the first issue was whether there was actually much of a story behind it all, but issue #2 goes a long way to answering that point; the emotional core of the thing is evidently about Casanova being yanked to a parallel timeline and having the opportunity to revisit family relationships that he screwed up the first time round.  I still suspect it would be a stronger book for slowing up just a little bit, but that’s a hangover of the format of the original series.

Murderland #1 – One of those books that leaves you mainly thinking “What the hell was that?”  Fortunately, I suspect that’s largely what Stephen Scot and David Hahn were going for.  As I recall, I ordered this book on the strength of Hahn’s name.  The solicitation is a bit murky as to what the book’s about, and frankly, even after reading the thing, I’m not quite sure how to describe it.  There’s a guy calling himself Arabber who’s got some sort of unspecified mission.  There’s a woman called Method who seems to play roles for nefarious reasons.  There’s a general sense that the ground rules aren’t being explained to us and the series isn’t waiting for us to catch up.  There’s plenty of nonchalant violence and deadpan black comedy.  There’s a flip back cover that seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the comic inside.  And I honestly still haven’t got much of a clue about what it’s about.  But, unlike a lot of mystifying first issues, it does make sure that the actual events are clear enough – it’s the explanation for them that’s hard to make sense of.  Thoroughly odd and partially impenetrable, but intriguing nonetheless.

New Mutants Forever #1 – The expansion of the Insert Name Here Forever franchise continues, with Chris Claremont telling a story that he might have done in the eighties had he not left New Mutants with issue #52 or so.  Just to be clear, this has no story connection whatsoever with Claremont’s X-Men Forever (because he left New Mutants several years earlier, and so the deviation point is different).  As New Mutants was a smoother handover, there’s perhaps less interest in this one as a premise – and it’s not altogether encouraging when the first page, which seems to have a different letterer from the rest of the book, manages to mis-spell the names of two of the main characters.

Anyway, Claremont has chosen to go back to the old and abandoned storyline of Selene having plans for Nova Roma, which somehow or other involved her granddaughter Amara.  This subplot had been drifting around for a while, and survived a couple of years into the Louise Simonson run, before being utterly forgotten about by everyone.  Any hope of it being resolved hit the buffers when the whole concept of Nova Roma was dismantled in an offhand retcon in an issue of New Warriors.  So at least this is a story with potential for exhuming.

What we get in the first issue… is the New Mutants being taken by Magneto to visit their new allies in the Hellfire Club.  Sunspot, Warlock and Karma are all gone, for reasons that aren’t really explained clearly.  (If you don’t know, Karma was written out around this time, and Sunspot and Warlock are off appearing in the Fallen Angels miniseries – but the story seems to assume you know all this.)  A bunch of mysterious baddies attack who have their own interest in Nova Roma and, yes, the fight ensues.

It does give some indication of what New Mutants might have done if Claremont had followed up on the direction he was pursuing when he left, an alliance between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club that never really got off the ground.  And Claremont does slip neatly enough back into writing the characters.  In many ways it feels truer to the concept than X-Men Forever, which takes advantage of being in its own universe to tell stories that Claremont would never have been allowed to do in 1991, no matter how sympathetic his editor.  On the other hand, it’s Nova Roma, which was never one of the more successful New Mutants concepts; and so far it’s basically a lot of unexplained fighting.  Mind you, since the Hellfire Club are in it, presumably we get to see the Hellions later on, and Claremont was always great with them…

Rage of Thor – A one-shot by Peter Milligan and Mico Suayan, set way back when in the middle ages, from the look of it.  I forget whether this is a sequel to another one-shot, but the basic idea is that Thor has stormed out of Asgard after yet another argument with dad, and has set up a life as a Norse farmer.  Needless to say, that isn’t going to last.  There’s quite an interesting idea here about the essential shallowness of the “Drink!  Fight!  Girls!” aspect of Asgard’s paradise, and how Thor’s stuck with it because he doesn’t really have anywhere else to go.  But it’s more a comment on the mythological version of Asgard than Marvel’s sanitised version, which is a glitch; and the character arc is rather familiar, which is more of a problem.

Shadowland #2 – So it’s the street level heroes (er, plus Spider-Man) versus Daredevil and his supporting cast, and clearly the idea is that Daredevil is going mad.  Fine as far as it goes, and it’s quite nice to see these characters get a story that’s more or less on their level (though the Ghost Rider seems decidedly out of place here).  I can’t help feeling, though, that the story is being done more effectively in Daredevil’s own title, where there’s a bit more ambiguity about how clearly Daredevil understands that he’s being manipulated.  Here, it seems pretty clear that he’s just lost it, and that a bunch of characters from outside the book are going to have to take him down… and I can’t help thinking I’d rather have seen this story stay within Daredevil‘s own cast.  Mind you, by the standards of crossover minis it’s perfectly decent, not least because it’s got a character-driven story at its core.

Spitfire #1 – Another of the “Women of Marvel” one-shots, but this one has the advantage of giving Paul Cornell an opportunity to pick up on the story he was doing with Spitfire in the cancelled MI-13 series.  Spitfire and Blade get sent to New York to go after a vampire who seems to be causing trouble largely because she’s very old and has nothing better to do.  It’s trying to set up the idea that Spitfire’s troubled by the thought that she might go the same way over time, even though she’s in control of her vampirism right now.  Fair enough as a way of explaining why it’s still a concern to her and not just a generic background angst point, I guess.  I quite like the relationship Cornell has set up between Spitfire and Blade, who seems willing to overlook the fact that Spitfire’s a vampire; but I can’t help feeling Blade’s character needed a bit more work to get to this point, and we’ve ended up skipping to the relationship before it was really plausible.

Bring on the comments

  1. Michael says:

    Wow, you’re really gonna go with the “marriage is pointless without kids” argument, Joe?

  2. And then she gets pregnant anyway, and the baby doesn’t make it, so…yeah.

    Also: “it’s the street level heroes (er, plus Spider-Man)”

    Camahhhnn. Blimmin’ Bendis. Just ‘coz he swings above the sidewalk…


  3. Thanks for reading Murderland#1.

    I’m pretty sure you’ll find that answers to most of your questions are mere issues away (if you find enough room in your stack to keep reading).

    Keep posting what you think. I am reading. Thanks.

    Stephen (writer/creator, Murderland)

  4. Jonny K says:

    Casanova slows down a lot with the second arc: the first arc/album/series was all about supercompressed done-in-one stories, while the second was essentially one long story. (More or less. As I recall, not having read the issues in a while.) I imagine you’ll appreciate it.

    At the time I remember being torn: while the slowing down did make some aspects stronger, the insane, supercompressed lunacy was a lot of fun, and it lost that a little. There’s a big of a tonal shift, I felt, but it remains a lot of fun.

  5. Reboot says:

    Y’know, I’d forgotten all about Cornell retroactively (kinda-sorta) vamping Spitfire. Not something that ever really worked for me.

    And yes, Rage of Thor was a sequel to Milligan’s earlier Thor one-shot, Trial of Thor (which is the source of Odin & Thor’s arguments, and recapped fairly completely within the plot of RoT).

  6. Regarding Shadowland, is anyone else utterly baffled by all of Marvel’s promotional teasers for “who will be the next Man Without Fear?” Uh, as if being “the Man Without Fear” actually means anything? As if Daredevil was ever some kind of legacy character?

    I mean, seriously, what the hell is this supposed to mean?

  7. Adam says:

    Michael: I assume they’re teasing a new protector of Hell’s Kitchen, be he outfitted in a Daredevil outfit or no. And I guess characters aren’t legacy characters until they are, right? 🙂

  8. “Hey, True Believers! How would you like to read a Daredevil book . . . starring Gambit? No? How about Nova? You didn’t buy Nova in his own title, but maybe you would if he were in Daredevil’s!”

  9. CBR shows the teasers all joined up, and there’s a real Dave Bullock/sub-Eisner look to the piece.

    There’s a space…hooommmm….I’d like it if it was, maybe, some kind of neon-jetwash Carmern Miranda-Aya Napa-style flamingo of a man – or a woman! – but it’ll probably be Daredevil in his stupid yellow costume again (see how the white letter shapes don’t quite match up in the Panther and Falcon pics? Probably a giant “DD” logo).

    Although…the Kraven pic doesn’t..doesn’t really fit, does it? Hed rerring?

    Honestly, though, I’d much rather see a Gambit comic with a stronger urban/grounded/realistic vibe than anything more X-Menny, or anything that involved that ridiculous bodystocking (which he appears to be wearing in that pic. Oh, well).


  10. Jerry Ray says:

    Didn’t think much at all of that Spitfire book. Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention, but I didn’t really get what was going on. I mean, I got the Blade/Spitfire relationship drama just fine, but didn’t really pick up on what it was that the other vampire chick was doing or why they were hunting her specifically, and couldn’t be bothered to go back and try to work it out.

    This Spider-Man arc is working pretty well for me. Yeah, it’s a blatant retcon and it’s kind of ham-fisted, but I’m finding it pretty easy to get carried along in the emotion and angst-current of the thing.

  11. Michael Aronson says:

    I hope it’s the Falcon, so they can call him “The Fowl Without Fear!”

  12. clay says:

    Hey, Spidey’s street level! (Or was that Matthew Craig’s point? I never can tell…)

    And hey, Nova’s a great book. Nyah!

    And hey, SSM Annual #7 was perfectly enjoyable!

    I’m not hating One Moment In Time. Yes, the plot is a cleaning exercise, but the character beats ring true. The story’s only half-over, so I’m curious how the rest of it will play out. It helps, of course, that the art is outstanding.

  13. She isn’t even GREEN.


  14. Wow, you’re really gonna go with the “marriage is pointless without kids” argument, Joe?

    Given that the original premise was divorce=bad, demonic pact=good, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

  15. Also, the Hulk doesn’t feel fear, so perhaps he’ll be the next one. The Hulk of Hell’s Kitchen, I’d read that.

    It’ll probably be Wolverine. Sigh.

  16. Kelvin, don’t be so unrealistic.

    It’s going to be Deadpool.

  17. I would read The Hulk of Hell’s Kitchen even if it cost five pounds and two pints of blood per issue.


  18. Lambnesio says:

    @Michael Aronson (“Hey, True Believers! How would you like to read a Daredevil book . . . starring Gambit? No? How about Nova? You didn’t buy Nova in his own title, but maybe you would if he were in Daredevil’s!”)

    Hahaha, good point. I never really considered until right now that I have no real interest in reading a book starring any of these characters, especially not a Daredevil book.

    But yes to Hulk of Hell’s Kitchen, hell yes.

  19. Paul says:

    Especially if he has to wear Daredevil’s costume.

    “Why Catholic guilt torment Hulk?!?”

  20. Peter says:

    Say Paul,

    I tried to go on to your old X-Axis website to look up some older X-Men reviews only to discover it is a completely different website, unrelated to comics. What happened?

  21. Peter, Paul let the hosting lapse, so the site has expired.

  22. Thom says:

    Surely the worst thing about the x-axis being gone is the generic photo of the smirking woman who seems to be laughing at you. “You wanted to read about old x-comics did you? You pathetic human being”… This may be a personal problem.

  23. Martin Smith says:

    I’ve not looked, but is it an annoyingly perky woman with a blonde bob and a backpack, Thom? Because she mocks people at many lapsed domains.

  24. Yes, Martin, it is she, the Queen of Mockery herself.

  25. Thom says:

    I’m assuming that when she goes to castings now, they take one look at her and ask her to leave. Then she goes home and weeps.

  26. Martin Smith says:

    She probably goes to house of someone who’s just being evicted, squats in it until they come home and tactlessly breaks the bad news.

  27. AaronForever says:

    anyone have an archive of the old x-axis site? or does one have to scour r.a.c.m.x for the old reviews?

  28. sir! Home of the Wayback machine, and all sorts of groovy tat!

    (hint: Old Time Radio adventures of The Blue Beetle and The Fantastic Four (BillMurrayBillMurray), as well as BARRY CRAIG WILL KICK YOUR BRAIN, and, and, and, gha, what was it, 21st Precinct? It was like The Wire or NYPD Blue, but in the 1940’s.


  29. AaronForever says:


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