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Apr 8

The X-Axis: w/c 3 April 2023

Posted on Saturday, April 8, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

So, the review backlog has got to unwieldy proportions. It’s time to go for a fresh start and round out each week with a quick run through of all the week’s X-books. This week, that means…

IMMORAL X-MEN #3. (Annotations here.) The Sins of Sinister crossover enters its third month, with Sinister and Rasputin as practically the only characters left in a galaxy dominated by corrupted versions of the Quiet Council who have all gone to seed. Alessandro Vitti is the artist for this final phase, and I rather like the smeary griminess of it all; it’s sci-fi, but long after everything started falling apart. The structural gimmicks of the story are a tricky balancing act but I think it’s worked nicely so far, with the three books following different threads even if you do need to be reading all the titles to fully understand what’s going on. But what I really like is the meta theme that’s emerged both here and in Storm and the Brotherhood of Mutants #2: as readers, our inclination is to root for the timeline to be reset, but the handful of remaining heroic characters, true to their never-say-die ideals, want to stop that happening. Because of course they do. It’s the destruction of the universe. That’s a nice little subversion of the tropes.

WOLVERINE #32. (Annotations here.) Well, if you enjoy monologues covering basically the same territory as the previous issue, only again, you’ll love this issue, in which Beast spells out everything he spelled out in the previous issue, only again. All that being said, my basic problem with the Beast storyline isn’t the premise so much as the fact that it was allowed to escalate to absurd proportions before anyone acted against him. I do wonder whether this is a book that suffered from the decision to extend the Krakoan period, since if it had ended as originally scheduled, then Beast’s schemes would have come crashing down not too long after his secret conquest of a South American nation came to light, which would have worked fine. Instead it’s had to try and keep finding ways to escalate.

Anyway, it’s impossible to take Beast seriously as a multi-dimensional character at this point, but once you’re committed to that angle, there is a certain charm in going all in and having him embark on schemes that are batshit insane. I don’t remember being quite sold on Juan José Ryp’s art in the past, but I really like a lot of his work here – there’s something about the clone Beasts that really works for me, and it’s not just the fact that they’re identical. Of course he can draw a character on model several times a page. It’s something about the casually relaxed body language he gives them, as if they haven’t really noticed that anything is a bit odd here. He does a really nice deer-hunting sequence, too.

ROGUE & GAMBIT #2. By Stephanie Phillips, Carlos Gómez & David Curiel. Destiny has sent Rogue and Gambit on an inadequately explained mission to keep Manifold safe, but last issue he got captured and they had their powers drained. So this issue starts with the two of them making their way back to civilisation on foot from the Nevadan desert. It’s patchy but it has its charm. The characters have been kept in separate books for a while now, and it’s nice to see them just hanging out together; Destiny makes sense as a foil for them, since Gambit’s never really dealt with her before. The redneck bar where the locals simply welcome them as recognisable superheroes is a nice change, and I kind of like Gambit escaping a fight by drawing on Spider-Man villain tropes of endangering the innocent. On the other hand, there’s a data page of a magazine interview with Rogue that doesn’t really work (if you’re going to do that many interruptions, it kind of needs to be video), and the Black Panther’s guest star role feels forced. Art is nice in the superhero segments, maybe a bit too clean and bright when it’s doing small town desert settings.

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #81. By Grace Freud, Alberto Alburquerque & Yen Nitro. Jubilee has been packed off to Brooklyn to have a quiet word with the members of the Super Trans support group, who have gone viral after beating an old Sentinel and claiming to be the X-Men. These characters previously appeared in the second Marvel’s Voices: Pride one-shot (and really, if we’re not going to do proper numbering, could we at least do something like Marvel’s Voices: Pride 2022?) and if we’re being honest, this is the sort of story where Jubilee seems to be included solely to explain why it’s in X-Men Unlimited rather than Marvel’s Voices Infinity Comic. It’s quite good fun, though; it’s basically a comedy story about some kids with actually vaguely useful super powers doing typical support group stuff, to the point where they cheerfully welcome Mojo Jr to the group in wonderfully open-minded fashion. (“Hey, everyone! I’m Mojo Jr. I’m a transdimensional leech.”)

MARVEL’S VOICES INFINITY COMIC #47. By Andrew Wheeler, Carola Borelli & Brittany Peer. Does this count as an X-book? It’s part four of a Negasonic Teenage Warhead story, and she started as a cameo in New X-Men, but she’s really better known as a Deadpool character, but Deadpool is officially an X-book now, even though it’s really not, even though it has the trade dress. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever read any stories where Negasonic did anything more than get memorably incinerated. Apparently she has precog powers which allow her to see different timelines in which she gets different powers, and then access the powers from her chosen timeline in the present, which seems fiddly. I’m not wild about this, to be honest. It’s quite talky for an Infinity Comic and there are a lot of very small panels in here. But mainly, I’m just not in the market for a story where Negasonic Teenage Warhead turns out to be cosmically important. I think I’ve got to already care about her as a lower scale character in order for that to work.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ryan T says:

    Love the return of X-Axis! While the annotations are great and super useful, I missed the capsule reviews.

  2. Voord 99 says:

    Another person here who’s glad to see the return of the X-Axis.

  3. Uncanny X-Ben says:

    Ah, my childhood!

  4. Zoomy says:

    Yes, great to see good old-fashioned X-Axis reviews again! (Although the annotations have really become my indispensable guide to everything that’s happening on Krakoa!)

  5. Mathias X says:

    >> Well, if you enjoy monologues covering basically the same territory as the previous issue, only again, you’ll love this issue,

    Oh, how I’ve missed X-Axis.

  6. JD says:

    The modern version of Negasonic Teenage Warhead was reintroduced in 2016’s Deadpool & the Mercs for Money (the short-lived ongoing series, not the preceding mini of the same name), presumably in a synergistic attempt to bring her more in line with her movie counterpart.

    … And while it certainly did the job appearance/attitude-wise, the weird precog powers added there kinda explain why she hasn’t been used that much since.

    (In the movies she had Cannonball’s power.)

  7. Jeremy says:

    Looking forward to getting these on a weekly basis!

  8. SanityOrMadness says:

    @JD, @Paul

    Is this version of Negasonic Teenage Warhead even the same as the one from NXM? I was under the impression it was a new character, reverse-adapting the movie version. They don’t look OR act like the NXM character, who basically was a one-note depressed “joke”. When you have to both resurrect AND change everything about a character to have them be the same…

    (And the name reuse is, bizarre as it is, a coincidence from an in-continuity perspective.)

  9. Si says:

    I don’t read much Deadpool if I can help it, but I’m pretty sure it was always explicitly the same character.

    Note that between dying a page after being introduced and her re-use after the movie, she actually appeared a couple of times. Once she was actually Emma Frost’s subconscious or something, but still. Comics guys like sad goth girls, who knew?

  10. Michael says:

    A lot of people didn’t like that Remy endangered an innocent civilian just to get away from Black Panther. He is going to be on Maddie’s Dark X-Men team in August, so maybe this is foreshadowing for that, but I don’t blame fans for arguing this is out of character.

  11. Jim O says:

    Throw-back to the reason I know the meaning/spelling of esoterica.

  12. Douglas says:

    You may also enjoy the current Love Unlimited Infinity Comic serial (starting with last week’s #43), which is Gwenpool attempting to set up a love triangle with Elixir and Wither!

  13. MC says:

    @SanityOrMadness: Yeah, it’s the same character. The Deadpool & Mercs for Money series JD mentioned kinda covers the change in character – explains how she loses her hair, and her powers start out as her prior “nightmare premonitions” but evolve into her more cinematic-style explosion ones. There is a bit of a gap in that it doesn’t quite explain why she looks more “normal” than her Morrison look (or how she got better after Necrosha), but I guess one could ascribe it to being makeup from a goth phase, and getting a secondary mutation.

    @Michael: Yeah I was pretty surprised to see Paul was relatively positive about this; pretty much everyone I’ve talked to hates the way Rogue and Gambit are being written. He comes across as an amoral drunk, she’s a nagging shrew. It feels regressive at best and flat-out out-of-character at worse for both of them.

  14. The Other Michael says:

    I have to say that the evolution of Negasonic, aka Ellie, from the NXM depiction where she dies, to her current version, is seriously odd and totally movie synergistic. “I have precog abilities which let me change powers depending on future timelines” to both explain the change from her original powers to her Deadpool powers and now to just… change powers is not what I would have expected.

    I can accept her change in appearances–hey, mutants change. Toad’s ratcheted up and down the appearance spectrum a lot and he’s just a silly bouncy tongue guy.

    For me, Rogue and Gambit is … eh.

  15. Evilgus says:

    The fact that Negasonic gets her own series is interesting of itself. So many of the very minor Morrison creations – Negasonic, Jumbo, Glob – have gone on to have richer stories. I think it speaks to the intriguing writing we were given for them (just snippets really, as incidental characters), some pathos, and also very strong visuals. Just memorable characters. I’m not always sure the later fleshing out has been successful, in comparison.

    I mean, Negasonic now could be almost anyone with the shaved head. The spiky goth Penance look she had before made her very identifiable in a crowd.

    Separately, I’m enjoying sins of sinister, and how Storm and Rasputin are fighting to save this horrible universe. It would perhaps be helpful if we could see what”normal” was in the universe? But I LOVE the over the top Warhammer 40k vibes! Didn’t know Gillen had written for that too. Thanks to the other posters for bringing that out!

  16. The X-Axis is back! It’s 2001 all over again! Hang on while I go and charge my GameBoy Advance!

  17. JD says:

    @SanityOrMadness Also, last week’s issue of MARVEL’S VOICES INFINITY COMIC (#46) was all about NTW accidentally landing in Genosha’s ruins (while running from the TVA) and having a telepathic conversation with Emma Frost about their shared history there.

    “The Deadpool & Mercs for Money series (…) explains how she loses her hair”

    That’s quite the summation for Deadpool and his mercs capture her from her home to hand her over to a totally legit “we help mutants with dangerous powers” institute, who of course start experimenting on her just as soon as his back is turned ; Deadpool eventually realizes his mistake and rescues her three issues later, after which she decides to keep the shaved-hair look.

  18. Keith says:

    Thank you, Paul!
    This fills me with joy.
    X-Axis forever!

  19. Josie says:

    Please please please prioritize these types of reviews over annotations. The current X-books just aren’t interesting enough anymore to warrant annotations.

  20. Mike Loughlin says:

    Paul: I also miss & like this format. I’m good with whatever format you choose and also enjoy the annotations.

  21. Joe I says:

    I too applaud the return of both Paul’s review capsules and stubborn refusal to acknowledge Deadpool as an X-character.

  22. Nu-D says:

    When I was thirteen I brought a copy of an issue of X-Factor illustrated by Wilce Portacio to my barber and pointed to a picture of Cyclops and asked for that haircut. My barber laughed, said he’d try, and gave me the usual. I got over it in less time than it took to grow out and return for another haircut.

    The thirteen year old girl who picked the name “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” had the same emotional maturity as I had at that age (that was very much Morison’s gag with that name). She thought it was soooo kewl!, or as we used to say, wicked gnarly, man! She would have outgrown that name in two weeks, about as long as it took for young Kate Pryde to outgrow her roller skate outfit.

    Even Marvel’s sliding timescale can’t explain how that could be the same character still going by that name.

  23. Ronnie Gardocki says:

    Psh. Monster Magnet is timeless!

  24. Nu-D says:

    Oh yeah, +1 on the appreciation train for the capsule reviews.

  25. Adam says:

    Whatever Paul wants to do is of course fine by me—I’m just grateful for the content—but I admit I’ve always preferred the reviews to the annotations. I add my cheers to everyone else’s.

  26. neutrino says:

    Will you do reviews of X-Treme X-Men?

  27. Josh says:

    Very excited to see the return of X-Axis reviews. Would also like to express gratitude for the annotations, which I have found indispensable (particularly for Sins of Sinister).

  28. Eric G says:

    Agreed, it’s fun to see the “classic” format X-Axis back.

    A quick question: Do you have any sort of tip jar or Patreon going, and I’m just not seeing the link? I’ve been enjoying your work for decades at this point, since the usenet days, and I would be more than happy to express this financially as well as just the occasional thank you or complement in the comments.

  29. Moo says:

    “I’ve always preferred the reviews to the annotations”

    Same here, by far. Now we just need Howard Mackie and Chuck Austen to come back and write some X-books for Paul to review.

  30. Josie says:

    “Now we just need Howard Mackie and Chuck Austen to come back and write some X-books for Paul to review.”

    To be fair, Paul never got through the Indexes, did he? I’m not sure what the purpose was (to review books that came out prior to his starting X-Axis reviews?), but I enjoyed those as well.

  31. Moo says:

    @Josie – Well, he got far enough into the indexing of Uncanny X-Men (to the end of the Casey run) that he was indexing comics that he’d previously reviewed.

    As for purpose, I don’t think any of this stuff has any real purpose, lol. Beyond existing for his readers to enjoy reading, which we did. I really hoped he’d get around to indexing the Claremont run at some point, but oh well.

  32. Paul says:

    “Do you have any sort of tip jar or Patreon going, and I’m just not seeing the link?”

    I don’t, no. Honestly, it’s not required.

  33. MasterMahan says:

    Just to make my voice heard: I will read anything Paul writes about comics, because I’ve learned I can’t go wrong there.

  34. Josie says:

    “As for purpose, I don’t think any of this stuff has any real purpose”

    A purpose merely answers the question “Why?”

    “So, the review backlog has got to unwieldy proportions. It’s time to go for a fresh start and round out each week with a quick run through of all the week’s X-books.”

    For example, this is Paul’s stated purpose for the X-Axis revival.

  35. Thom H. says:

    The occasional format change keeps things fresh, which I appreciate since I’m losing interest in the annotations. I’ll probably appreciate them more when the X-books feature characters I recognize again. In the meantime, I’m excited for the return of the X-Axis style.

    Also, powering up Negasonic Teenage Warhead to that degree is dumb. It seems like the new thing to do is give a mutant every conceivable power. NTW, Escapade (I think that’s their name? — the one from New Mutants), Eye-boy. What’s the point?

  36. Moo says:

    @Josie – You could just ask Paul.

    Or, there’s this description…

  37. Nu-D says:

    “As for purpose, I don’t think any of this stuff has any real purpose”

    A purpose merely answers the question “Why?”

    Ooh ooh! Can we talk about Aristotle?

    @Josie points to Paul’s explanation that the backlog of reviews prompted him to put out these capsule reviews. Aristotle would call this he ”efficient cause,” meaning the immediate cause that drove the action to occur.

    But the question of “purpose” is more accurately equated with Aristotle”s notion of a “final cause,” meaning the end for which a thing is done. Aristotle poses the question, “what is its good?” to illustrate the final cause, meaning what is the good that is sought to be accomplished?

    When @Moo says, “I don’t think this stuff has any real purpose, Beyond existing for his readers to enjoy reading, which we did,” s/he is identifying the final cause, not the efficient cause. The purpose toward which the writing is aimed is Paul’s pleasure in writing, and our pleasure on reading and discussing. It is “final” because there is no purpose “beyond” that.

    So @Josie and @Moo are talking at cross purposes, because they’re identifying different kinds of causes in response to the question of purpose. @Josie is looking at the efficient cause, and @Moo is looking for the final cause.

  38. Nu-D says:

    Aristotle also has two other types of causation, which we generally wouldn’t equate with the idea of “cause.” The formal and the material, which are that which a thing is made from, and the form which a thing takes. I won’t go into those, since they’re not really relevant to the discussion above and thumb-typing is a PITA. But here’s a link for anyone to interested in how Aristotle thought about causality!

  39. Taibak says:

    I do have one request though. If we’re getting reviews again, can we get the letter grades back?

    If not, no big deal.

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