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Aug 11

The X-Axis – w/c 7 August 2023

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #99. By Alex Segura, Alberto Alburquerque and Pete Pantazis. The end of the Polaris four-parter, which turns out to be pretty straightforward, really. Mesmero wants to prove something because he sees his first encounter with Polaris as the only time he was really an A-lister. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, he controls Dani and gets her to do the attacking rather than just mind-controlling Lorna directly – um, why is Dani, who actually has psychic powers, an easier target than Lorna? And there’s a fairly routine “overcoming our past” bit at the end. Inoffensive, I guess, but it only touches on any of the themes it raised, and it’s nothing you need to go out of your way to read.

IMMORTAL X-MEN #14. (Annotations here.) Okay, after a slightly shaky start Fall of X seems to be hitting its stride. We’re no longer doing the spotlight issues here – instead, we’re following the former members of the Quiet Council, or at least those who aren’t off in their own books. Professor X is still keeping his silent vigil on Krakoa – and Gillen and Werneck demonstrate that they’re good enough to spend five pages recapping the plot and still make it interesting through the montage approach and the intercutting with his blank reactions. Sebastian Shaw has belatedly figured out that he’s been outwitted by Mother Righteous, because he doesn’t understand magic as well as he thinks he does, and he sets about trying to rectify the situation. And Exodus gets to do… well, I mean, of course his reaction to being dumped in a desert with the civilian population of Krakoa is to do Moses. The guy calls himself Exodus. This is the role he’s always wanted. Moreover… all this does read like a finite story rather than a long-term return to the 198, which is what worried me initially. So that’s reassuring.

CHILDREN OF THE VAULT #1. (Annotations here.) Hey, a logo that doesn’t use the standard X-font! It’s a bit 90s Marvel UK for my taste, but sure, the Children of the Vault shouldn’t have the standard design. Despite the title, this is actually a Cable/Bishop series in which they team up to deal with the threat of the Children of the Vault, who have decided to take over the world in the mutants’ absence by posing as heroes. Why conquer the world when you can make everyone love you with a literal viral idea? It’s a teensy bit parallel-universe – shouldn’t they be registering a bit more in other Fall of X books? – but maybe that’ll come with time. The approach to Cable and Bishop as a duo is a little curious as well, referencing the Cable series but not really committing to just how appalling Bishop was in that book. But… that said, I think I prefer seeing them written as professionals who’ll work together if there’s nobody else around, which is a subtler approach. The Children’s gimmick isn’t entirely novel, but it’s nicely done here, and this feels like a strong start to a series that has its own identity rather than just being part of Fall of X. Quite promising.

GHOST RIDER / WOLVERINE: WEAPONS OF VENGEANCE ALPHA. By Benjamin Percy, Geoff Shaw, Rain Beredo & Travis Lanham. This is the first part of a four-part crossover between Wolverine and Ghost Rider; since Benjamin Percy is the regular writer on both titles, it’s a natural fit. It’s a slightly odd time to be doing it, in the first month of Fall of X, but maybe it’s not a bad move to get Wolverine occupied with something else instead of finding busy work for him. The set-up here is pretty simple: years ago, Wolverine and Ghost Rider fought a demonically possessed kid who was brought to the X-Men Mansion because his carers mistakenly thought he might be mutant. Now the kid is back and they fight him again. Presumably we’ll get some more flashbacks to the previous conflict as this goes along. It’s a surprisingly gentle first issue in many ways, taking us back to the early 80s X-Men and Xavier as straight ahead teacher, with pleasantly understated art. Granted, the kid seems to have managed to visit the X-Men Mansion on a day when all the lightbulbs needed changing, but that’s demonic possession stories for you.

I feel obliged to point out that the chronology here doesn’t seem to work at all. The X-Men references pin this down quite precisely to somewhere around X-Men #139 in 1980. But the Ghost Rider has Roxanne Simpson with him, who was written out of his book in 1978 and didn’t return until 1983 – and spent the period in between as an amnesiac. So, er, yeah, that’s an issue. Maybe magic does weird things to time? But this is very readable and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting.

LOVE UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #62. By Carola Borelli, Carlos Lopez & Ariana Maher. So we’re doing Rogue and Gambit in a heist-off, and this issue is… maybe a bit heavy on the set-up for an Infinity Comic? But I see where we’re going with this. At first glance Gambit ought to win this hands down, what with thievery being his schtick, and Rogue being a battering ram. But Rogue can do stealthy if she wants – kind of – and more to the point, what’s going to mess up Gambit’s plans is having Rogue running around as an X-factor. Okay, that’s kind of cute. It’s disposable stuff but it feels like writer and artist both get the characters – and that’s the key to this this sort of thing.

Bring on the comments

  1. Josie says:

    “Haven’t tried Busiek’s work on the Avengers yet (aside from maybe one issue that crossed over with Thunderbolts – the one when Hawkeye decides to take charge of Tbolts) but if his work on Thunderbolts is anything to go by then yeah, the merit is more his than Brevoort.”

    Busiek’s Avengers is a weird beast. It’s fun, and it makes you appreciate the franchise even if you’re a new reader (which I was at the time it was coming out), but the real meat is the spinoff Avengers Forever maxiseries, about the war between Kang and Immortus. The main Avengers book featured a lot of throwaway C-list villains: Morgan Lefay, Whirlwind, the Grim Reaper, Moses Magnum, Terminus, and some original creations that have never been used since. Ultron Unlimited was a high point, and is the basis for the Age of Ultron film, but otherwise it’s kind of an uneven run which is redeemed entirely by George Perez. If the entire run was drawn by Jerry Ordway or someone comparable, I would’ve skipped it.

  2. Josie says:

    “If anything, it suffers from excessive attachment to the status quo and characters from decades ago.”

    This is a very weird assessment of the Krakoa era.

  3. Miyamoris says:

    Yeesh, what kind of person dislikes *Magik*?

    @Si: I understand your point of view and this has always been the most solid criticism of Krakoa era, but at the same time I do think there are plenty of great stories this era that would not have been possible without the mutant nation setting.

    Maybe it is an indictment of how stagnant X-Men books have been for ages, but even with its flaws the Krakoa era is still the most diverse period for X-Men books imo. For a while there was more diversity even behind the scenes, with more non-white and queer writers at helm. Marvel should build on this, improve what has been underwhelming, not shelve Krakoa entirely.

    @Diana: thanks, I usually keep up with his newsletter but I probably missed this part.
    It does make me aprehensive to lose both him and Ewing at the same time cause they’re big part of the reason I’m sticking around lol.

    @ylU: True, but that goes back to my point of having the right writer and letting they do their thing.

    @Josie: I thought Luis was referring to the X-Men franchise in general, not only Krakoa era.

  4. Luis Dantas says:

    I was. Granted, that is not unusual for comics, but I don’t think that the X-books want or need to be following the usual trends.

    I am not much of a Claremont fan, but he may have had the right idea when he wanted to retire Cyclops. I like the character, but it is hard to avoid the sensation that we keep revisiting old favorites and making cliches out of them.

    The Rosenberg run was shocking because it demolished the status quo, but it also brought back Cyclops and Wolverine in their traditional roles. The Krakoa era (which I consider to be paused if not finished) was just as shocking for the opposite reason: it made all sorts of things possible, but chose to focus on relatively few and high-concept events.

    Back to back as they went, they result in a holding pattern of sorts, because we do not expect Krakoa to be the new normal. It is just too disruptive of most characters’ characterization and plots. It glosses over lots of significant questions demanded by the setup itself, starting with “how come there are so few mutants that miss human society”?

    It is no coincidence that Kamala was revealed as a mutant just in time to be denied the choice of living in Krakoa and leaving her human family behind. Krakoa does not play to the strengths of her character concept. It does not play to the strengths of many character concepts.

    Were Krakoa to survive as a main setting, provisions would have to be made to establish that a sizeable contingent of mutants are not interested in living there for various, mostly character concept related reasons. Diplomatic relations between mutants would become a significant part of long term plotting. In its own way, that would be even more ambitious a setting than Hickman’s original proposal, and have deeper and more significant consequences on the Marvel Universe as a whole.

    It may come to happen yet; for all I know Tom Brevoort may be planning to make just such a move. Who knows? Each situation has its own advantages and drawbacks. I can’t help but expect a return to a more traditional, commercially safer status quo.

    But it may well be more entertaining if perhaps financially riskier for Marvel to go in a different direction instead. One of the reasons why the Grant Morrison run is so well remembered and well liked is because it did dare to change things permanently, introducing a true mutant community and outing Xavier as a mutant irreversibly. Market realities made it so that some of those changes were deemphasized in various ways since and others fully reversed, but it happened, it brought some lasting repercussions, and it was overall positive. Maybe we will have plots about Krakoan chauvinism and mutant communities or families that are split about Krakoa in the future. It can happen. IMO it should have happened in the early stages of Hickman’s run but largely did not.

  5. Josie says:

    “I thought Luis was referring to the X-Men franchise in general, not only Krakoa era.”

    “If anything, it suffers from excessive attachment to the status quo and characters from decades ago.”

    The problem is that 1. he says “suffers,” present tense, and 2. the Krakoa era is the present era, and has been for the past four years. It’s a bizarre criticism to make in the present tense in the present era.

  6. ylU says:

    Busiek, Bendis, and Hickman’s Avengers runs: Brevoort edited all three but they are wildly different flavors. Whatever direction the x-line takes with him in charge, I suspect it’ll mostly come down to the tastes of whoever he happens to hire.

  7. Luis Dantas says:

    @Josie: I don’t know about “bizarre”.

    I will say that it is only fair to point out that even if we consider the Krakoa era to be the current status quo (I guess it is arguable either way right now) the fact remains that it is superficially a profound change of status quo. Yet, as I elaborated in my previous post, the actual exploration of the plots that come organically with that change has been pretty conservative IMO.

    I could also add that, for instance, the revelations about Moira did not really amount to much overall.

    Four years later she has become a cyborg that might as well be a new character far as motivations or personality go; and she arguably provided (involuntarily) the mechanism for the “Sins of Sinister” event, which made a lot of spectacle but ended up doing little beyond providing Rasputin as a new character and the recordings to harm the reputation of mutants. Out of the top of my head I don’t remember other consequences. Not too much deviation from the most traditional status quo, IMO.

  8. Luis Dantas says:

    @yIU: I may be extrapolating too much from my perception of the 1980s and 1990s, but I understand that writers are ultimately bound by the directives that come from editorial.

    For instance, I assume that at this point in time the X-Offices will be following some sort of orientation with an eye towards the current plans for reintroducing the X-Men in movies and streaming series.

  9. Luis Dantas says:

    On second (third?) thought, speaking of the movies reminded me of how the MCU borrowed many concepts from the Ultimate Universe which seems to be under some form of revisitation.

    I have no idea of why or what will result from that. But other considerations aside, Tom Brevoort is easily one of the most experienced editors currently active at Marvel, and that experience includes extensive awareness of their shared continuity since the 1990s and working with other editors within the constraints of that continuity.

  10. Josie says:

    “it is superficially a profound change”

    Superficially profound? Is that like a wet desert or a married bachelor?

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