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Aug 26

The X-Axis – w/c 21 August 2023

Posted on Saturday, August 26, 2023 by Paul in x-axis

X-MEN UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #101. By Steve Foxe, Stephanie Williams, Noemi Vettori, Pete Pantazis & Travis Lanham. Somewhat bizarrely billed as part of “the countdown to Fall of X“, which of course is well underway. The idea seems to be to do a spotlight story on each of the characters from the abortive X-Men team, and rely on the Gala issue to add some poignancy, but what it amounts to in practice is “Sam visits his home town and helps out with a flood because he’s nice.” It’s perfectly competent but I just don’t understand what the point is.

X-FORCE #43. (Annotations here.) Unlike most of the “Fall of X” books, we’re jumping back to the Gala itself here, as Colossus’ storyline finally comes to a head. Kind of. The basic idea is that Colossus was meant to be helping Mikhail Rasputin to mount his own completely unrelated attack on the Gala, only for Orchis to charge in first and make everything that Mikhail’s spent years working on utterly pointless. It’s hard to figure out whether this was always the plan or whether it’s an actual change of direction in response to the Gala, but it works surprisingly well – Mikhail’s plan going off the rails and leading to a bemused X-Force winding up on his doorstep is a more interesting direction than either having Mikhail sign up with Orchis, or having him duplicate their scheme. I’m less convinced about just plugging Kid Omega back into his old role, and Percy seems to have no real role for Omega Red – though he is Russian, and he does have a history with Mikhail, so maybe that’ll come to the fore in the next couple of issues. X-Force can be hit and miss but on the whole I’m quite liking this.

JEAN GREY #1. (Annotations here.) Well, that’s not what I was expecting. Jean Grey turns out to be a comic about a disoriented Jean Grey reliving her life with various alterations to try to get it right, with predictably disastrous results. If you take this at face value as an alternate timeline then it reads oddly, but I don’t think you’re meant to – it’s riddled with seemingly intentional timeline glitches, and the idea seems to be more about Jean reconstructing herself as she prepares for resurrection. If that’s the idea then it would probably benefit from Bernard Chang playing it a bit less straight on the art, but the book still looks fine. Jean can often be a terribly dull character presented as a saintly mother figure, but this leans more into the idea from All-New X-Men about her being rather too willing to mess about with people’s minds – maybe we’re going through the great disastrous decisions of her life in chronological order until we get to where she is today? I had my doubts about whether a Louise Simonson comic was really going to fit into the line in 2023, but it seems quite at home.

REALM OF X #1. (Annotations here.) This is a curious book, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. Evidently one strand of Fall of X is to scatter most of the mutants off world to keep them busy for a few months until they make their way back. You rather suspect that aside from Exodus’s strand, some of these plotlines are just there to create some busy work. Whatever the reason, we’ve got a bunch of mostly second-tier characters in Asgard, or rather, Vanaheim – Magik is the big name here. On the plus side, Diógenes Neves does a nice forest world, the story makes good use of Curse, and I like the idea of a fantasy world where the locals have some relatively complex ideas about how much trust they should put in their prophecies. Then again, I’m baffled by much of the cast choice – Torunn Grønbekk’s take on Typhoid Mary as an entitled princess seems to miss the point of the character completely, and why bother using Marrow just to be someone generically reasonable?

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #9. By Gerry Duggan, Juan Grigeri, Bryan Valenza & Joe Caramagna. This is not an X-book, but it is a “Fall of X” tie-in – bizarrely, not marked as such on the cover. Much of this issue is Iron Man and Emma Frost regrouping in the aftermath of the Gala, and in an odd piece of planning, it ends with the reveal that the Kingpin has taken over the Hellfire Club – which has already been casually revealed in other titles. I don’t mind the Emma/Tony dynamic, which works well enough, but Duggan does lean into the excessively grim aspects of “Fall of X” in a way that isn’t especially entertaining.

DEADPOOL #10. By Alyssa Wong, Luigi Zagaria, Matt Milla & Joe Sabino. In contrast, this does get a “Fall of X” tag on the cover, when it isn’t a tie-in at all. In fact, it still has the pre-“Fall of X” design for its credits and date pages. This is the final issue of the current volume, which basically completes the Atelier storyline and everyone lives happily ever after. As a relatively light and frothy Deadpool arc, I don’t mind this book at all – the giant symbiote puppy that bounds around enthusiastically after him is great fun – but I’m not at all convinced that it needed ten issues. There was definitely room to tighten this up and get to the point faster.

STORM #4. By Ann Nocenti, Geraldo Borges, Andrew Dalhouse & Ariana Maher. Huh, I completely missed issue #3. Oh well. This is the penultimate issue, and it’s not so much a solo mini as an X-Men arc with the focus on Storm. There’s a bit of dancing between the raindrops of continuity going on here, with Nocenti taking the opportunity to flesh out some of the character development from the #170s of Uncanny X-Men and chuck in a bit of hindsight to fit with where Destiny’s plans were apparently meant to be heading. But there’s a strong core to it, which is Storm meeting pushback from her friends when she tries to break from the persona that they know, and being drawn to the new man with whom she can explore other identities. There’s a twist about who that guy actually is which fits nicely with that theme too, and works surprisingly well in the context of the plot that had been set up. The art isn’t trying to copy the period X-Men style but fits with it in a broader sense (relatively traditional panel layouts, for example). These throwback minis have been rather patchy, but Storm is really pretty good.

LOVE UNLIMITED INFINITY COMIC #64. By Preeti Chhibber, Carola Borelli, Carlos Lopez, Ariana Maher. Ah, it wouldn’t be an Infinity Comic without an extended falling sequence. I’m going to gently suggest that this trick, effective though it might be, is getting to the point where it might be due a rest, no? Or just lean into it and run People Falling Down Holes Infinity Comic. Can’t be any worse than Avengers Unlimited. Anyway… we’re getting past the heist/romp phase of the story and into the “what dark secrets have we uncovered” phase. The answer turns out to be completely out of left field – it’s a minor character from 1994 who was supposed to have died in his only appearance! – but it doesn’t really matter if you recognise him and he does kick the story into a different direction just when that seemed to be needed. Chhibber writes a good Rogue and Gambit duo, which is what really carries this arc. A fun little story and I’d happy to see this team do something higher profile.

Bring on the comments

  1. Alex says:

    “It’s perfectly competent but I just don’t understand what the point is.”

    It’s probably a good idea to show characterization to an audience not necessarily willing to seek out old 80s comics to understand the current status quo.

  2. Michael says:

    Can someone tell me why Emma needs the psi-dampener ring that she got in Invincible Iron Man to avoid being detected by the Sentinels? All of the other telepaths fighting Orchis in Fall of X don’t need a psi-dampener to move around outside the Morlock Tunnels without being by the Sentinels- Xavier, Cable, Monet, Kwannon and Maddie all have no problem moving around without being detected. It’s not a Quiet Council thing, since Xavier doesn’t need one. I would think it was a case of miscommunication between writers but Duggan wrote Uncanny Avengers 1 and in that issue Monet and Kwannnon have no problem moving around without being detected by the Sentinels. So why is Emma the only one who needs a psi-dampener ring to avoid being detected?

  3. Luis Dantas says:

    She probably doesn’t exactly need it, but there are several reasons why she may want to use one while others can’t or won’t.

    First of all, it is convenient. She is in somewhat deeper cover than most other telepaths. Since her public role is so associated to Tony Stark, the presence of the inhibitor is also a bit easier to explain if the need arises. For instance, it may be effective as a defense against attacks besides disguising Emma’s own gifts.

    It may also be that Emma just isn’t particularly good at cloaking her psychic presence. Or became less adept at it since developing her secondary mutation back in the Morrison run. Or her personality isn’t conductive to efforts at keeping unnoticed.

    Also, it isn’t all that clear that the others are going unnoticed either. Penance and Psylocke are with the Uncanny Avengers, Maddie with her Dark X-Men. Both are fairly visible teams and may not be trying to hide their telepaths.

  4. Michael says:

    @Luis- Monet and Kwannon were hiding for “x weeks” before joining the Uncanny Avengers. You’re right, though, in that Emma might have become less adept at it since she got the ability to change into diamond, since her diamond form is immune to telepathy.

  5. Midnighter says:

    I also report the latest episode of Marvel Meow Infinity Comics dedicated to Mr. Sinister’s Cy-Cat!
    It is just a little story in which Cy-Cat wanders around Sinister’s lab messing up things wondering when his master will return (who at one point arrives along with two clones).

  6. Paul says:

    “Can someone tell me why Emma needs the psi-dampener ring that she got in Invincible Iron Man to avoid being detected by the Sentinels?”

    I’d assume the most likely explanation is that Emma doesn’t just intend to keep her distance from the Sentinels, but to do stuff right under their noses.

  7. Mathias X says:

    Re Emma, they made a point that her cover identity has clearances and stuff, and she’s moving around in broad daylight with Tony Stark. Kwannon, Monet and company are meanwhile just running in, throwing off their cloaks and throwing hands. I would look at it as the difference between an undercover cop and a SWAT team.

    Emma is also one of the Council/highest priority targets, and accompanying Tony Stark–who is both a celebrity, recognizable, and more paranoid by nature–to the Hellfire Club, where they’re likely going to do politics and business. She can’t really operate in that capacity if someone pegs her as Emma Frost.

    I also think that we’re supposed to assume that because their cell phones aren’t working in the Morlock tunnels that they’re also reasonably protected against the Sentinel scanners. Tho tbh if I were Moira and telling Orchis where to check, I would think the Morlock tunnels would be one of the obvious places to check.

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